Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Criollo horse, handiness and endurance - Full Article

By Gérard Barré, webmaster of

The chosen mount of legendary Gauchos, the Criollo horse is the symbol of equestrian cultures in Latin America. This hardy little horse is exceptionally easy-handling. To invoke its name is to fuel dreams of adventure…

The Horse of Conquistadores : Heritage

The Criollo horse or breed, literally "creole", has no actual name of its own. It is the direct descendant of horses brought to the New World since the arrival of Columbus, imported by Spanish conquistadores during the XVIth century and notably by Don Pedro Mendoza, founder of Buenos Aires, in 1535. Many of these war horses escaped or were abandoned, and rapidly returned to a more primal state in an environment perfect for their development, the Pampa. For the next four centuries, the Criollo breed adapted itself to the vast South American plains through the pitiless process of natural selection. This adaptation to the rude conditions of life on the Pampa was determined by selective factors acting on wild populations, which permitted them to develop qualities of physical hardiness and resistance to diseases.

The indigenous people became riders upon contact with the Spanish military and colonialists, and began raising these horses in semi-liberty in the vast plains. Much as the Gauchos would later do, they transformed the horse into their mode of transportation, their hunting or working companion, their partner in games. Since then, the Criollo has always been a cattleworking horse for the Gauchos or peones.


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