The Chilean horse is one of the oldest registered horse breeds that are developed in the Americas, although many people outside South America donít know anything about the breed. It is native to Chile and descended from the Spanish horses in the early 16 century. Precisely, the breed is originating from Peru around 1544 when the famous breeder Rodrigo Gonzalez Marmolejo began breeding equines, giving accent to the quality of the breed. He dedicated his life to horse breeding and formed the first farm of Chilean horses. Through the centuries they have utilized as war mounts in the 16th century, as parade horses, pacers and trotters in the 17th century, as a working animal and mostly for the use in the Chilean rodeo, a world known event where speed is a quality above the strength.
The Chileans needed a horse that will be used in every purpose; tough and brave enough to confront with other aggressive cattle in a war, to have an even temperament so it can be highly trainable, but still saving the energy for work at the fields.
Round-ups in the 18th century made herds to have capacity of no less than 7000 head. Cattle were castrated and branded, which resulted with rise of the talent that the Chilean horses already possessed. During this period mares were used in threshing teams of 50- 100 animals. They had to walk in circles on the wheat grain on a hard surface. That demand required sure footedness and enormous energy. If an animal slip on its knees it would immediately sent to slaughter. These hard workers at the same time were one of the best rodeo horses (corraleros) of that particular time.
The Chilean rodeo is distinguished from the rodeos in other countries. The goal is to chase cattle by a team of two riders and two horses in a crescent-shaped arena called medialuna and earn points. The riders are called Huasos (Chilean cowboys) and together with their horses are riding laps around the half-moon arena and trying to stop a calf.
During the 19th century Chile had the most influential breeders. They introduced a greater selection at the Chilean horse for speed and defined the characteristics of the breed. In this period, the mechanization grew and the need for thrashing mares extinguished. On the other hand railroads and automobiles also limited the use of horses for transport. Thatís way the breeders concentrated to save the grace of the Chilean horse and increase the popularity of the Chilean rodeo.
The head of the Chilean horse has somewhat convex profile that is typical for all breeds of Iberian origin. They have deep and expressive eyes; small and mobile ears; and fine muzzle. The neck is wide; the chest is broad; and the back is short and strong. Legs are strong and well muscled and hooves are very sturdy. The mane and tail are abundant.
The average height of the Chilean horse is between 13.1-14.2 hands and all coat colors are acceptable. They have thick and double-hair coat, which makes them well suited for cold and dry weather.
Selective breeding of almost 500 years resulted with a breed separate than others, with natural athleticism, trainability, courage and cow sense. They are characterized with low metabolism, great immunity to diseases, remarkable recovery rate and abundant energy. The Chilean horse is a true worker, sure-footed on mountain slopes and excellent in draft, carriage and racing requirements.
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