The Criollo horse breed is one of the most famous horse breeds native to South America, and it's easy to see why. The Criollo's uniquely resilient nature and endurance capability as well as its aesthetic beauty and skill in many fields - no pun intended - has made them extremely popular all over the world. Read on to discover all about the Criollo horse, as we answer all of the main questions we all have about this wonderful breed.
Where did the Criollo horse breed come from? The Criollo horse originated with a 1535 shipment of 100 purebred Andalusian stallions from Cadiz, Spain, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Twelve to forty-five of these horses were set free in 1540 and quickly reproduced, numbering 12,000 by 1580. Over the years, their hardy nature lead them to thrive and survive all over the South American continent. In 1918, Argentine breeders created a purebred Criollo registry, and a breeder’s association was formed in 1923. And the rest is history. Today, you will find Criollo horses living in the Pampas of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil,and Paraguay, as well as being shipped out all over the world for all kinds of purposes.
What is the nature of the Criollo horse breed? The Criollo horse breed is known for its long-distance endurance, hardiness and stamina, due to its low metabolism. They are famous for their ability to live in very harsh conditions, perfect for life in the wilds of South America, where there is both heat in the arid deserts and grasslands as well as cold in the mountainous regions. Luckily, the Criollo horses can survive in all types of environments and thrive on little grass. Physically, the Criollo breed is broad and strong, measuring on average 14.3 hands (that's 149cm), which makes it perfect for physical labour. It is also resistant to many equine diseases.
What are the typical colourings of the Criollo horse breed? Criollos come in a variety of colours, with their main colour being line-backed dun, but also comes occasionally in brown, bay, black, buckskin, palomino, overo, chestnut, blue or strawberry roan, grullo, or grey. The colour ‘grullo’ is variety of dun, recognisable by the darker dorsal stripe along the criollo’s back.
What are the main uses of the Criollo horse breed? Today, the Criollo horse breed is used mainly as a working cow horse in cattle farms all over the world. However, they are also used in many other work and leisure capacities. One of the main other uses is as a polo pony, both on a professional and amateur level. Criollo horses are also used as trail horses, as well as in the rodeo, in Argentina as well as in the States.
Why is the Criollo horse breed so popular with the Argentine Gaucho community? The Criollo's excellent use as a cow horse makes it an obvious choice for the Argentine Gaucho, as these cattle ranchers work with cows all day long. Another key factor to the Criollo's significance for the Gaucho is its availability and popularity in Argentina - being the Criollo's home country. Also, the polo skills of the Criollo can't hurt, with Gauchos often playing polo in their spare time, often using their own work horses in ranch teams like we may have work five-a-side football teams. These teams will often wear polo belts in their team colours, a practise that has taken place in Argentina since the birth of the modern sport in rural communities. If you would like to see what these polo belts look like, and maybe even get one for yourself, explore our broad range of premium polo-inspired pampeano belts right here on our website.