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Digital Subscriptions > Horse Illustrated > Jan 2020 > Horses of South America

Horses of South America

These beautiful and unique breeds have Spanish roots and smooth gaits.
Paso Fino stallion Themisto de Milagro.
CHERI PRILL/STUNNING STEEDS PHOTOGRAPHY

When the Spanish came to conquer the New World in the 1500s, they did more than war with native cultures and ransack their gold. They also brought horses with them—special gaited horses that would go on to populate the Americas and become the ancestors of nearly all of today’s North and South American breeds.

That now-extinct horse, called the Jennet, was known to be compact in size and “easily gaited”, meaning it had special smooth gaits instead of just the usual walk, trot and canter. The Spaniards favored this breed and used it as their preferred light cavalry horse.

Historians believe the Jennet was the mount the Spaniards brought with them when they began colonizing Venezuela in 1502. The breed eventually spread throughout South America and became the ancestor of four of the continent’s most well-known breeds.

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