Discover the Naturally Gaited Peruvian Horse
Imagine a horse that is effortless to ride……naturally smooth in its gaits, with no bouncing trot. Imagine a Spanish Conquistador strutting toward a group of Inca Kings, the Spaniards sand their horses so magnificent that they appeared to be heaven-sent. Imagine a Peruvian nobleman travelling across the Atacama desert; his bold horse striding relentlessly in that unforgiving terrain. Now – imagine YOURSELF, astride a horse with unlimited energy, and yet smooth as glass. The horse rises up beneath you and you feel the thrill of powerful, utterly smooth floating movement, as if on a magic carpet.
In the 16th century, the riding horses of Spain were the naturally gaited Jennets. These were the horses brought to the New World by the conquerors. Some crossed with English horses and became the ancestors of the Mustangs of the American West. As Europe built roads and turned to cart travel, the Jennet horses left in Spain were crossbred with trotting horses, and eventually the Spanish Andalusian became a trotting breed.
Spanish gaited horses in North America contributed to other gaited breeds we know today. But all of them were crossed in some way with trotters. Of the ancient gaited Spanish horses, only the horses of Peru were kept pure, due to their geographic isolation between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The Peruvian colonists prized the smooth gaits of their riding horses and selectively bred for all the qualities that were important in a good travel horse. There were few roads in Peru, so horseback riding was the main form of transportation. As plantation agriculture developed, so grew the importance of good horses that could be ridden all day checking crops. There were many large sugar cane plantations, including one so big that 500 horses were saddled daily, and it took a week to cross the vast hacienda on horseback. Four hundred years of selective breeding has given us the breed we know today.
When 21st century riders first encounter the Peruvian Horse, they are surprised by how the breed differs from the horses they have known. First, there is the gait. Unlike trotting horses, the Peruvian moves in smooth transition from a comfortable walk to an easy Paso Llano and then extends to a smooth Sobreandando, which can be as fast as a canter. Each foot moves individually, with a rear and a front foot on the same side working together. Even those who are familiar with gaited horses are impressed when they learn that Peruvian Horses are born with this natural ability. In Peru and North America, the horses are trained and shown entirely natural with no artificial devices. Shoes are not allowed in the show arenas, to maintain the ultimate in a natural horse.
The Peruvian horses has an inborn physical flxibility and many show aptitude for movements usually found only at the highest level of training. The Peruvian horse must take a long stride and move out efficiently, yet he must also carry his head high and proud. In other breeds, these two qualities are usually not thought possible in the same animal. A Peruvian horse is expected to have a flashy action, with a fairly high step in the front legs, but also be very smooth. This is extremely difficult to find in the same horse in other breeds but is a routinely found talent in the Peruvian Horse. The Peruvian horse has great energy, yet is calm and easy to handle. And while bursting with energy, they are expected to have a naturally loose, flexible movement. In the Peruvian horse we find a marriage of opposing characteristics.
What aficionados say is that they have “discovered the horse” – the way that horses should be! We invite you to come try one of our Peruvians and find, as many have, that finally the ideal horse is not just a dream, but a reality.
Articles About the Breed
An article published in various magazines and on the web, with perspectives on gait. 270 KB
An article on the creation of successful breeding strategies in Peruvian horses. 98.2 KB