Horse farmer and riding instructor
Grelo farm founded in 1978
3545 Olde Base Line Rd, Inglewood, Ontario
My dad totally brought Portugal to the farm. Everybody who came and brought their horses who had been at other barns, they immediately told us about how unique the flavour was. In Canada there is a fad for the European trainer, and he lived up to a lot of people’s expectations – Rosanna Grelo.
Frank Grelo was the first horse farmer in Canada to breed the Lusitano horse. Since 1978, Frank’s horse farm and riding school, first in Cedar Mills and later in Caledon, Ontario, has hosted many students, who have learned how to ride using classic Iberian techniques, some inspired by bullfighting. Two of Frank’s best students are his daughters, Melissa and Rosanna. After having accompanied their father in many horse riding shows across Canada, the Grelo daughters pursued careers in entertainment, with Melissa becoming one of the most recognizable faces on Canadian television as the host of multiple top-rated shows.
Franciso “Frank” Grelo was born in Moimenta da Beira, a town in northern mainland Portugal, where he lived for the first six years of his life, after which he moved to Caldas da Rainha. From a very young age, Frank grew up surrounded by animals, especially horses. His father had been a military farrier and veterinarian who continued that occupation throughout his life. Among his clients were equestrian athletes and bullfighters, including José Tanganho and Vitorino Frois. Frank worked with his father until he was conscripted into the Portuguese army and sent to fight in Guinea. After serving in the military, Frank emigrated to France, where he lived for four years. He tried to immigrate to the United States but was denied. After that he moved to Canada, where arrived with a tourist visa in September 1971. Six months later he was granted landed status.
Frank settled on Denison Avenue, near Augusta Avenue in Toronto’s Kensington Market, then the most densely-populated Portuguese neighbourhood in Canada. There he frequented the many Portuguese billiards and taverns, where fado and flamenco were played. In one such venue, Frank met his future wife, a Filipino immigrant, whom he married in 1973. The couple had two children, Melissa and Rosanna.
Frank and a group of partners opened his first horse farm in Cedar Mills, Ontario, in 1978. In 1983, he became the first importer and breeder in Canada of the Lusitano, a Portuguese horse breed. Besides being a horse farmer, Frank is arguably best known in the equestrian community as a horseback riding coach who uses bullfighting techniques seeped in Iberian flair. For instance, he introduced the tourinha (little bull) – a mechanical replica of a bull’s head mounted on a single wheel and manually pushed by two handles – to practice the horse’s dexterity. By charging the tourinha towards the horse, simulating an attack from a bull, the animal responds by contorting itself, mirroring classical dressage movements. Frank’s teaching style, deemed unique in Canada, has attracted students from all over the world to study under him. Two of his students have become dressage champions, winning gold and silver in the Pan Am games. In 2009, Frank and his family moved to Caledon, Ontario, and opened the farm they still operated today.
Frank and his daughters have given workshops and performed in many horse (dressage) shows around North America, including Equitana USA, Polo For Heart, Many Riders Many Hats, The Ex, and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. The Grelos have also been regular features in ACAPO’s Portugal Day parade in Toronto. Possibly inspired by his media-savvy daughters, Frank and his dancing horses have also had a significant media presence through YouTube videos, television commercials and shows (including Road to Avonlea and Murdoch Mysteries), and print advertising.
Hora dos Portugueses
Photos & Videos
See 3D version here.
Short description: Tourinha
Creators: Frank Grelo, Tammy, and Beverley
Place of origin: Cedar Mills, Ontario
Description: Mechanical contraption made to look like a bull’s head mounted on a bicycle wheel with two handles for pushing and steering. This is a tool, or “toy,” used occasionally by Frank Grelo in his horseback riding classes to teach the rider and the horse about vision and dexterity.
See 3D version here.
Short description: Horse bullfighter outfits
Creator: Alfaiataria Marques (blue jacket); A. Armindo (A. Armindo)
Place of origin: Blue jacket, Biscainho-Coruche, Portugal; Maroon jacket, Rua Augusta, Lisbon, Portugal
Description: Horse riding bullfighter jackets with gold embroidery ornaments, shirt, and hat worn by Frank Grelo during his classical dressage live performances.
Short description: Portuguese saddle
Creator: Carlos Silvério
Place of origin: Pombalinho, Portugal
Description: Leather saddle ornamented with tacks, with a ridged seat, cantle, and pommel, and a fur skirt. Brought from Portugal by Frank Grelo.
See 3D version here.
Short description: Black Hat
Creator: Chapelaria Coelho
Place of origin: Água Peneira – Tremez, Santarém Portugal
Description: Black, wide brim, felt hat worn by Frank Grelo during performances. Part of the traje curto (short outfit) or traje de campo (country field outfit).
Short description: Cap
Place of origin: Portugal
Description: One of Frank Grelo’s everyday flat caps.