The Chilean horse, also known as the Chilean Corralero, is a breed of horse that originated in South America. This horse is the oldest registered breed in South America and the oldest breed of Iberian origin, as well as the oldest official breed of stock horse in the Western Hemisphere. It is thought that the breed was first developed in 1544 when Father Rodrigo González Marmolejo began breeding with the intent of producing high quality horses. By the early sixteenth century, horses bred in Chile were designed for efficiency in war, while by the seventeenth century horse breeding in Chile had expanded to breeding show horses and stock horses.
The Chilean horse was used mainly for stock purposes during the eighteenth century, although yearly cattle roundups had been mandatory since 1557. The skills the horses used to round up thousands of cattle are now utilized by horses in today’s Chilean rodeos. Mares were used for farm work during the eighteenth century, forming threshing teams that numbered between fifty and one hundred horses. The horses used for this purpose, which were foals of the rodeo horses of that time, were strong, but those who were not able to work efficiently were slaughtered. By the late eighteenth century, many prominent farms kept records of both specialized types of horses.
By the time Chile became independent from Spain in the nineteenth century, horse breeders were focused on warhorses and stock horses. Breeders at this time also focused on developing horses with skills in speed as racing became more popular. The need for stock horses and farm horses declined as mechanization swept through the country, but the Chilean horse was able to survive due to the popularity of rodeos.
Because of the isolation of Chile prior to 1850, the Chilean horse was able to maintain a pure bloodline, and even when European horse were introduced into the area, the mountainous terrain prevented many of the imported horses from breeding with the Chilean horses. Breeders did not want to crossbreed their horses with European horses and after the Chilean horse became the recognized official breed of that region, it became even less desirable to crossbreed. Today, the breed still maintains its pure bloodline thanks to the popularity of the Chilean rodeos, which no other breed of horse can dominate in the same manner as the Chilean horse.
The Chilean horse is known for its strong hooves, its calm temperament, and its immunity against diseases. It has a thick double coat of hair that allows it to live in both cold and warm areas and can be bay, black, chestnut, or grey in color, among other colors. It can also display dilutes in color including palomino and buckskin. A registry has been established to maintain the bloodline and breed standards of this species, although this has been done for over 150 years without a registry.
Image Caption: Eduardo Tamayo. Credit: Huaso/Wikipedia