A Cadillac and a Pickup Truck
by Donna Bearer

   From its very origin, the Peruvian Horse has been bred for luxury and endurance. They were expected to carry their owners over great distances in comfort.

   The origins of the Peruvian horse are traced back to the Andalusian, the Barb, and the Fresian, all sturdy, dependable horses. In the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors brought their warhorses to Peru and proceeded to sweep across the continent in their conquest of the Inca empire.

   The capability of the horses to endure long forced marches gave the conquistadors unbelievable mobility and tremendous advantage over their slower, surprised enemies.

   As the Peruvian horse evolved over the next 400 years, careful attention was paid to breeding a sturdy, horse with an extremely comfortable gait.

   The four-beat, lateral gait of the Peruvian horse is without question, the most comfortable ride in the world.

   Thru the centuries, the Peruvian horse has been selectively bred to produce a medium-sized horse ranging from 14 to 15.2 hands with the normal size falling between 14.2 and 15 hands.

   Designed for the transportation of lords and landowners, the horses were expected to carry their riders twenty to forty miles in a single workday that required mounting and dismounting many times a day. As one rider noted," it is much easier to mount and dismount a horse under 15 hands many times a day, as compared to a horse that stands 16 to 17 hands.

   In addition to their use on ranches, the horses were used in the savage mountain ranges of the Andes where their compact size made them ideal for navigating the narrow, treacherous mountain passes.

   The congenial nature of the Peruvian horse is no accident. With a living to make and many duties to oversee, landowners had little time for a contrary horse. A horse with a bad disposition was simply removed from the breeding program.

   Brio is a word one will hear often when discussing Peruvian horses and it is a word with a definition all its own. It means intelligent; spirited yet docile with great dignity and presence -- almost an arrogance -- not found in many breeds. The Peruvian horse is extremely gentle and loves people. They become very devoted to their owners and will go past endurance when asked, never knowing when to stop. Brio encompasses all of this.

   Only a few of Peru's most prominent families assumed the responsibility of breeding these wonderful horses, and over the years they have carefully supervised the breed to produce intelligent, strong, amiable horses.

   Over 400 years of selective breeding have produced the beautiful, gait for which the horse is so famous. While other horses are trained to emulate the al-most-prancing gait of the Peruvian, it is a natural, inbred quality in these horses. The Peruvian is the only gaited horse on earth that can guarantee its natural gait will be passed on to its offspring.

   Breeders today strive to carry on the tradition started by the Peruvian breeders. A sturdy, mid-sized horse with tremendous brio and the world's most comfortable ride.

   Good breeder's constantly stress the importance of the horse's natural gait, often culling an otherwise perfect specimen from their breeding program if the horse is lacking in the amount and quality of pisos (gait) for which the breed is famous.

   Today there are only about 16,000 Peruvian horses in existence in the world, and about three-fourths of them are currently in the United States.

   The single most important breeding stallion in modern history has been *Sol de Oro (V). Every National Champion of Champions Stallion in Peru since 1961 has carried his blood and his name is prominent in the bloodlines of almost every U.S. National Champion horse since 1973.

   A tremendous break for American breeders of Peruvian horses came in 1972 when John Delozier and Angle Schmidt of Thunder-bird Ranch brought *Piloto, the Champion Peruvian Breeding Stallion, to this country. A son of Sol de Oro (V), *Piloto and his line have been the foundation stock for many successful breeders in the United States for the past twenty years.

   A list of the top ten producing stallions since 1980 showed *Piloto as the number two producer of champions in the United States. An extraordinary accomplishment for a horse that died in 1985.

   *HNS Domingo, imported from Peru by Raul and Jo Ann del Solar of Rancho Domingo in Bueilton, CA, is the number one producer of champions in the United States since 1980.

   The del Solar's breeding program may very well establish the foundation for the modern, American Peruvian horse.

   H N S Domingo's son RDS Me Llamo Peru++ is the first and only double National Lau-reado Breeding Stallion in the history of the breed. He won the National Champion of Champions Breeding Stallion title six times. Winning the highest honors both national re-gisteries offer.

   To receive a Laureado, a horse must win the same class in the same show three times. After a horse receives it's Lau-reado, it is not allowed to compete in that class again.

   There are two organizations serving the Peruvian breed: The American Association of Owners and Breeders of Peruvian Paso Horses (AAOBPPH) and the Peruvian Paso Registry of North America (PPHRNA)

   The main objectives of both organizations are to register purebred Peruvian horses, promote the breed and educate the public.

   The AAOBPPH may be contacted at 510-895-2720 and the PPHRNA's number is 707-579-4394. Both are located in California.

   It is no secret that the "Baby Boomers" drive the market of supply and demand in this country, and they are beginning to demand a gentler, more comfortable horse to ride. Thus the Peruvian is becoming increasingly more popular.

   If one visits with a Peruvian owner, and the talk gets around to "why did you buy a Peruvian?" The number one answer will be: "! had given up riding because of a bad back, etc. Then ! heard about this wonderful horse with a ride as smooth as a rocking chair. Now I go on thirty mile trail rides and have no problems. This horse is so-o-o smooth?

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