Criollo Horses
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About Criollo HorsesAbout Criollo Horses

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Criollo horses are native of Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, andrnParaguay. They may have the best endurance of any horse breed in the world nextrnto Arabian horses. In fact, due to a low basal metabolism, they may be a betterrnlong-distance horse than Arabians in prolonged races over a week in durationrnwith no supplemental feed. Because of their hardiness and stamina they are veryrnpopular in its home countries.

The word criollo originally referred to human and animals ofrnpure-bred Spanish ancestry that were born in the Americas, or, in Portugueserncrioulo, to animals or slaves born in the Americas. In time, the meaning of thernword would simply come to refer to native breeds of the Americas.

rnrnCriollo bloodlines come from selective breeding of Bagualesrnhorses. Baguales horses are feral horses of the Pampas (fertile South American lowlands,). They were bredrnfor use as cattle and riding horses. Their ancestors came from Spanish stockrnbrought during exploration of the South American continent. Many animalsrnescaped or were left behind to formed feral herds that roamed the Pampas.rnrn 

rnrnThe feral animals of the Pampas were influenced by importedrnanimals over the years. This included Portuguese and Dutch breeds, the blood ofrnwhich distinguishes the Argentine Criollo from the animals found in Peru andrnColumbia. These herds proved useful to the local tribesmen who began to dependrnon them and became great horsemen.

rnrnDuring the early 19th century both English Thoroughbred and Percheronrnhorses were introduced to Argentina. Subsequently, their bloodlines were addedrnto the Criollo mix. They were crossed with Thoroughbred for refinement andrnelegance, with the Percheron for size and strength. Sadly, with all of thisrncross-breeding the original bloodlines of the Pampas had become diluted andrnextremely rare by the end of the 19th century.

In 1917, the Sociedad Rural de Argentina was created tornpreserve the “creole” horse of Argentina. They located a herd of mares withrnpure breeding which became the foundation for regenerating the breed. At firstrnthe breed was called the Argentinean, then Argentine Criollo, but now they arernsimply referred to as Criollo horses.

rnrnEvery year The Criollo Breeders Association organizes anrnendurance ride which tests the stamina of purebred Criollo horses. The ridernlasts covers 465 miles, 14 days and must be completed in less than seventy-fivernhours. Horses carry a minimum of 250 pounds and are allowed no food other thanrnwhat is found along the trail. 

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