Before the turn of the 1600's, most of the known riding horses in the
world were naturally gaited breeds with trotting horses used as pack animals
or servant's mounts. Most people knew very little about riding and most
traveling was done by horseback, making a smooth riding horse a necessity.
Even the Knights - who rode huge trotting type horses for battle - often
kept an easy gaited horse to ride when traveling, leading his trotting
horse along behind.
As roads were built, and people began to travel by horse-drawn vehicles
rather than on horseback, a decreased need and use for gaited horses resulted
since trotting horses were more suitable for pulling wheeled vehicles.
At about the same time horses became important for working cattle as great
expanses of land were devoted to cattle raising and horse racing gained
in worldwide popularity placing even more emphasis on breeding trotting
horses. As the seventeenth century opened, it was unusual to see a horse
that trotted but at the close of the same century, it was unusual to see
a horse that did not trot. It was one of the most unusual transformations
seen in horse breeding history.
As horsemen of the world were making the transition from gaited horses
to trotting breeds, on the other side of the world, in the country of Peru,
the Peruvian horsemen continued breeding their naturally gaited "Caballo
Peruano de Paso". The Peruvian Horse descended from foundation bloodstock
that was brought to Peru directly from Spain by Spanish noblemen and political
authorities during Peru's colonial period when Lima was the center of Hispanic
America. The Spanish were recognized as foremost horse breeders in the
world. These horses bought to Peru are said to have been a blend of several
breeds: the Barb which gave the Peruvian horse a tendency to amble, contributed
to its conformation, striking colors, and energetic but tractable temperament;
the Fresian gave the Peruvian horse larger size, high action and head carriage,
proud but cooperative temperament, low set tail and abundant mane and tail;
the Spanish Jennet gave the Peruvian horse an even temperament, its lateral
gait, extremely smooth ride, and sloping shoulders; and the Andalusian
gave the Peruvian horse it's high action, a cooperative temperament, sloping
shoulders, a straight profile with large expressive eyes, a long mane and
tail, aristocratic carriage and spirit. It is said that the Peruvian Horse
breed actually began about 1530 A.D. Due to selective breeding, 450 years
of isolation, and such factors as climate and forage which served to modify
succeeding generations, a new breed was created which possesses characteristics
that are different from those of any other horse in the world. The Peruvian
Horse has evolved as one of the purest breeds in the world and as a unique
entity in the horse kingdom. The existence of this breed has been called...."the
greatest triumph of genetic selection ever achieved by a group of breeders."
The Peruvian breed has the unique characteristic of being the only natural
laterally gaited breed in the world which can guarantee its inherited trademark
gait to 100% of its offspring. There is no such thing as a foal born of
two pure blood Peruvian Paso horses that does not do the Paso gait.
In recent years, horsemen have begun to rediscover the pleasures of
the natural easy gaited horses. Horse fanciers of all ages from many nations
are turning to the Peruvian horse as an ideal mount for the Twentieth Century
horseman. A long standing Peruvian practice of not breeding animals that
have unsuitable dispositions, has made the tractable temperament of the
Peruvian horse one of the world's best. He is also one of the showiest
horses because of the beauty, arrogance with inner pride and energy that
makes him travel with a style and carriage as if he is always "on
parade". And individuals who thought they would never ride again due
to injuries and age are riding today with the greatest of pleasure.
The trademark of the Peruvian horse is a special, inherited, completely
natural, four beat lateral gait. Called Paso Llano, it is a type of broken
pace which makes the Peruvian horse the smoothest riding horse in the world.
A unique, spectacular and beautiful natural action of the front legs that
is highly desired and universal in the Peruvian breed is called "termino".
Put simply, termino is similar to the arm motions of a swimmer in which
the foreleg rolls forward and toward the outside before stepping down,
which also allows the hind foot to advance sooner and farther than would
otherwise be possible. The gait can be as slow as a walk or as fast as
an extended trot or slow canter and it is completely natural - the gait
is not induced or aided in any way by artificial training or devices. Naturalness
of the Peruvian horse is placed to the forefront with such emphasis that
competitions in Peru and the United States require the Peruvian horse be
shown without shoes and with a short, natural hoof.
The average height of the Peruvian Horse is between 14 and 15.2 hands,
and the weight is commonly between 900 and 1,100 pounds, about the same
as Morgans and Arabians. The head shows power and vigor, with a straight
line or slightly concave profile, strong at the bottom with outthrust jaw
and is carried steady and firmly. The ears are alert, of medium length,
graceful, mobile with fine tips curved slightly inwards; the eyes are expressive,
dark, elongated, wide set; the nostrils are long, sensitively dilated.
The neck is of medium length with a gracefully arched crest. It is set
high and runs well back into discretely marked withers. The mane and forelock
are naturally fine, long and lustrous. The body is well-proportioned, length
to height, medium-size, with strong, well developed, deep and wide thorax,
a well-arched rib cage with a short, wide girth, the joining of the shoulder
blades being smooth and level with the croup. The chest is well-proportioned,
strong, wide and well muscled. The back, is short to medium in length,
strong and rounded. The bottom line of the barrel runs nearly horizontal.
The limbs are solid and firm and stand in proper alignment. The shoulder
is long and very well inclined with an open angle at the elbow giving the
front limbs free and graceful movement. Proper joining is the basis of
the animal's correct alignment and poise, and the width and strength of
the articular joints are indispensable for proper movement of all these
parts. The arms are normally short and muscular. The forearm is long and
muscular at the top, and slimmer below. The knees should both be well-modeled,
with slightly convex rear face. The cannon bone is short with well defined
sinew. At the hindquarters, the thigh should be well-joined to the croup
and rump, showing powerful but not excessive contraction. The leg muscles
should be outstanding, the rump rounded down to the thigh but not too low.
The hocks should be well-formed and defined, tending inwards, with strong,
lean bone structure, and well balanced proportions. The tail should start
rather low, carried quietly, close to the rump, and be long and fine. The
leg bone and shanks, called the gaskin, should form a sufficient angle
to give it support, leaning towards the center of gravity most of the time.
The shanks are short, strong, with good bones, strong tendons, well implanted
and defined, the fetlocks strong and lean, well-outlined with precise contours
and rather sharply angled, the pasterns strong, medium length, fine and
clearly defined, and springy with a slope equal to that of the shoulder.
The hooves should be hard, well rounded, concave inner sole, and a long,
wide and prominent frog, and of good size proportionate to the horse with
sloping walls and sufficient high heels to permit the proper projection
of the angle of the pasterns.
The Peruvian Horse, because of its direct link to the Barb horse, comes
in an array of striking color tones and shades, coming in all basic solid
colors as well as greys and roans. There is discrimination against animals
with marked albino factors and rejection of dappled ones.
At the present time there are approximately 15,000 Peruvian horses in North America and no more than 25,000 worldwide.
Weanlings can be found in the $250.00 to $1000.00 price range for pleasure gelding stock. But more typically, breeding quality to show quality weanlings range from $2,000.00 to $10,000.00. Trained geldings average $3,000.00 to $5,000.00 for trail/pleasure quality and from $7,500.00 to $12,000.00 for luxury show competition quality. Breeding/Show stock range from $3,000.00 to a realistic price of $50,000.00 depending on potential/training/ and show &/or breeding career. Usually you get what you pay for - but price may not equal quality! Regardless of price, get a vet check! The $300 you will pay for a vet chack may save you many thousands of dollars and heartbreak!