Frequently Asked Questions and their Answers Print E-mail

1-     Question: Is the Chilean Horse a breed or a general term for any horse from Chile?

Answer: The Chilean Horse is very much a breed. In fact it is the oldest breed of Iberian origin in the Western Hemisphere, the oldest cowhorse in the Americas and the oldest registered breed of any kind in South America. A Chilean horse (with lower case “h”) could refer to any horse from the country of Chile, but a Chilean Horse (with upper case “H”) refers to the breed that started a formal registry in 1893. Such a name can seem confusing now but we must remember that until 1850 natives breds from Iberian origin were all that existed in Chile and even after other breeds were introduced the Chilean Horse has always had the greatest numbers in the country. Other breeds such as the Arab, the Andalusian (or Purebred Spanish Horse if you prefer), the Welsh Pony, the Belgium, etc. are also breeds that honored their land of origin and yet they seem like totally normal names to us today because they are well known breeds. Hopefully, some day that will be the case with the Chilean Horse as well.


2-     Question: Is the Chilean Horse part of the Criollo breed?

Answer:  No, it is a totally different breed, with a different origin. It was developed in a country that was totally different from the four countries where the Criollo breed has been developed, that had a distinct climate, topography, history and culture. The roots of the Chilean Horse go back almost entirely to the horses that were brought to Peru from Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Dominican Republic. From the first breeding establishment onward the Chilean Horse has been a product of planned breedings in horse establishments that focused on producing high caliber horses. It is a breed that has been selected to function in mountainous terrain, that has favored speed over endurance and that has been selected for over four centuries for its cow working abilities.


3-     Question: What is the Chilean Horse used for?

Answer: The origins of the Chilean Horse have always favored its ability to work cattle, but it also was a premier war horse, a surefooted mountain horse and a good wheat thrasher. However, since 1820 a strong emphasis was put on its corral working abilities and since 1869 it has been selected specifically for the sport of Chilean Rodeo. I doubt that another breed has been selected so long for a single stock horse event. Although its aptitudes still make it a great all around ranch horse, most of the Chilean Horses in Chile are bred for the sport of Chilean Rodeo and to a lesser extent Chilean Rienda.


4-     Question: Is the Chilean Horse a pony or a horse?

Answer: The breed standard would indicate that the Chilean Horse could have a height that ranges from a pony size to a small horse size. The great majority of the Chilean Horse specimens would classify as large ponies if measured at their subtly defined withers. Many individuals would reach the minimum horse height if the breed was selected for pronounced withers. However, the breed has a deep thorax and a horse size girth circumference. The body weights of the mature horse hover around 450 kg (1,000 lbs.) and the theoretical weight carrying capacity ranges from 106 kg (233 lbs.) to 120 kg (264 lbs.) denoting a equine capable of a horse’s workload. The Chilean Horse’s body proportions would also indicate a horse rather than a pony. In fact all wild horses and other wild species in the Equus genus would be no taller than the Chilean Horse. So the Chilean Horse has a height range that is the end product of 57 million years of evolution as all the taller breeds you can compare it to are a product of abnormal human selection. It is admirable that the Chilean Horse has stayed close to nature’s guidelines rather than tempting to think bigger is better like most contemporary breeds.


5-     Question: What breeds were used to create the Chilean Horse?

Answer: None. The Chilean Horse is an original breed that started from a variety of horse types that were imported from Spain to the Americas which were then molded within the climate and topography of Chile to meet the historical, political and cultural needs of its people. Not a single purebred, registered breed took part in contributing to the genealogy that resulted in the Chilean Horse and the registry has never been open to another breed.


6-     Question: How old is the Chilean Horse breed?

Answer:  The Chilean Horse breed goes back to the first breeding establishment in Chile in 1544. By the 1700`s Chile had the reputation of producing the finest horses in South America. By the end of that century there were distinguished breeders that kept meticulous records of genealogy of their ranch horses. By 1858 a model specimen was born that provided the breed with the ideal characteristics that all Chilean Horse breeders tried to emulate. As a registered breed we can say the Chilean Horse is 113 years old but of course the breed dates back much further than that. Some of the registered foundations sires have ancestors that can trace back to 1830.


7-     Question: Why is it that the Chilean Horse is so rarely mentioned in horse breed books?

Answer: As a general rule most of the breeds of South America have not been recognized by authors of horse breed books. Perhaps the Criollo breed is the one that has received the most credit and sometimes the Chilean Horse has even been classified erroneously under that name. In reality it is not until breeds from Latin America reach the countries or North America and Europe that they receive recognition as a breed. Unfortunately up until now the Chilean Horse breeders have made no effort to market the Chilean Horse in the developed countries of the Northern Hemisphere and as a result the breed has been gone unrecognized in obscurity. Moreover, until now practically no effort has been made to inform the rest of the world about the breed and no books have been written about the breed in the international language of English. We hope to remedy all these things now and give the Chilean Horse breed the acknowledgment it merits.


8-     Question: What are the distinguishing characteristics of the Chilean Horse?

Answer:  The Chilean Horse is warmblood breed that ranges between 1.36m (13.1 hh) and 1.48m (14.2 hh) and weighs between 380 kg. (836 lbs.) and 500 kg (1,100 lbs.). It is between 4-13 inches longer than it is tall and has a smooth ventral line from the neck, over the withers, into a somewhat long back, a strong loin and a fairly long slightly fallen croup. The breed has a semi-convex or straight facial profile but in both cases it is a ram-like head with thick frontal bones. Its eye is partially covered by the orbital lid but should not be sunken in the socket. Its nostrils should be large but not protrude past the profile of the nose. The breed has an extremely thick, coarse and wavy forelock, mane and tail. It has some presence of feather behind the fetlocks. The hooves are sound and hard and usually oval in shape with a well cupped sole. It also has a thick undercoat of hair and a long over coat that grows out in the winter often times with beards under the mandibles and along the ventral underline. The skin is thick making it resistant to insects and abrasions. The Chilean Horse is a very hardy breed with a low metabolic rate that can subsist on very poor quality feed. This race is very resistant to disease and when sick they show a strong will to live. Their temperament for the most part is very docile but they are very courageous individuals with a great deal of energy that will have them do more than is good for them if the rider is not conscientious about watching out for their best interest.


9-     Question: Are there Chilean Horses outside of Chile?

Answer: Some of the first horses to populate the Australian continent arrived from Chile. South Africa also received Chilean horses in the 19th century and again during the Boer War at the beginning of the 20th century. In the second half of the 20th century are over 400 horses have been exported to Argentina and Brazil. Some horses have been imported in Uruguay. Small numbers have reached Europe, most of these being in Germany. Even smaller numbers of horses have been exported to the USA where they competed very well against American stock horse breeds in national competitions. The potential for importation lies wide open as this is an exotic breed that at the same time has proven to be competitive in open stock horse events.


10- Question: With what kind of tack are the Chilean Horses ridden?

     Answer: In Chile the Chilean Horse uses a special stock horse  tack that is very unique to the “huaso” (Chilean cowboy) culture in that country. The saddle has a sloped back fork that lies over the rider’s thighs and a deep bowl shaped high backed cantle. The saddle uses two circumscribed cinches with a ¾ and 7/8th rigging. The saddle has no stirrup leather fenders as the huasos ride with leather leggings. The stirrup is carved out of a solid piece of wood and is shaped like a pig’s snout. The horses start off in leather bits, then move up to articulated metal bits that may have 2 to 5 sections. Eventually the horses will be ridden in a beaded O-ring spade bit with no shank or purchase. Although this is the typical tack in Chile the Chilean Horse has also been used with traditional western stock horse tack when competing in reining competitions.