During the early 1500s, Spanish conquistadors travelled to the New World, settling mostly in South America. They took horses of Barb descent with them. Many were lost or stolen, and began to run free across the Pampas(plains) of South America. Over the next few centuries, the number of feral horses in South America increased rapidly. At one point, in 1580, there were 12,000 of them galloping across the plains, though were captured over the years when settlers needed them for work.
However, there huge numbers began to change in the early 1800s when European invaders came to Argentina, binging with them Percherons and Thoroughbreds, both of which greatly increased the size of the breed. Before long, the Criollo was almost becoming extinct. Only 200, held by a south American tribe, remained. It wasn't until 1917, though, that the Sociedad Rural de Argentina began making efforts to save the breed. Upon discovering the small herd, they began a breeding program. The next year, a breed registry was made, and in 1923, the breed association was formed. Five years later, a breeder named Dr. Solanet, who was interested in the Chilean Horse, wanted the Criollo to become more compact and stock, like the horse he admired. In 1934, he took over the breed association. Soon, over 70% of the Criollo had been culled from the registry because they didn't fit the criteria, and the breed became more compact and stocky, like it is today.
|Criollos are stocky, muscular horses, perfect for ranch work.|
Breed Description and Uses
Everything about the Criollo reflects strength and power. Standing 14.1 hands, it has muscular, sloping shoulders, a powerful crested neck, short legs and back, a sloping croup, and burly hindquarters. Most commonly, it comes in dun, but other coat colors can be found as well, including patterns with a dorsal stripe and zebra markings on the legs.
The Criollo is one of the best endurance horses. In fact, breeders often test the horse's endurance by having them travel 466 miles in 75 hours, divided evenly among 14 days. Despite the rigorousness of the test, no supplements of any kind are allowed. The horses must be able to make to the end without any performance-enhancing supplements.