Criollo Horse

The Criollo horse breed is a descendant of the horses that were brought to the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.

These horses are known for their hardiness and endurance, and are popular throughout Latin America.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Criollo horse breed, keep reading!

Criollo Horse Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Criollo horse:

Height (size) 14.3 hand high
Colors Colors include bay, brown, black, grullo, buckskin, palomino, blue or strawberry roan, gray, and overo, however, the line-backed dun is the most popular color.
Country of Origin the native horse of the Pampas (a natural region between Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay)
Common Uses Rodeos, working cattle, polo, trail riding, western disciplines

Criollo Horse Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

The history of the Criollo may be traced all the way back to 1535, when one hundred Andalusian stallions arrived in Buenos Aires with the Spanish conquistadors.

Pedro de Mendoza, the founder of Buenos Aires, was the one who imported them.

Just five years later, the Spanish were compelled to leave Buenos Aires due to the hostility of the indigenous people, and they were also forced to release some horses into the wild.

During these turbulent years of war, conquering, and settlement, this was far from the only occasion in which horses escaped.

When Buenos Aires was resettled in 1580, the baguales (feral horses of the pampas) were estimated to number 12,000.

The baguales interbred with horses that passed through the area as people traveled between Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile, including Dutch and Portuguese horses like the Lusitano.

Baguales swiftly adapted to the harsh circumstances of the pampas and acquired amazing toughness, illness resistance, and endurance.

This was made possible by the rapid process of natural selection, which sorted out the strong from the weak.

For four centuries, they roamed free, eventually becoming vital to the local indigenous population, who raised semi-wild herds for hunting, transport, and sports.

Near the end of this period, they also became the preferred mount of gauchos, and between the horses of the Indigenous peoples and the horses of the settlers, the Criollo wove itself into the fabric of South America.

Criollo influence can be seen throughout gaucho culture, from the recado, which serves as the gaucho’s saddle as well as his bed, to the poncho, which protects him from the cold and the rain.

The word ‘criollo’ literally means “of Spanish origin”.

During the mid-19th century, English horses and Percherons were imported to the region, which resulted in some undesirable crossbreeding.

Don Emilio Solanet, a zootechnist from Argentina, took it upon himself to restore the original characteristics of the Criollo breed.

Because of this, an official breed registry was established, and better lines were created in which the original characteristics were restored.

The breed registration was established in 1923, and ever since then, the Criollo’s genetic integrity has been carefully preserved.

Criollo has proven invaluable to the gauchos of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay over the years, remaining one of the region’s most powerful symbols and a celebrated part of everyday life on the estancias.

The Criollo breed has historically been involved with endurance testing, both for competitive sports and for breed evaluations alike.

Breeders used to take part in an event known as “La Marcha,” which required horses to complete a 750-kilometer course in just two weeks while carrying heavy loads and eating nothing but the grass that grew along the road.

They are well-known for taking part in several cross-continental trips.

At the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, Roberto Jou Inchausto from Brasil competed in Reining riding a Criollo horse named F5 Licurgo Tapajos, winning 11th place.

The results that Roberto and Licurgo achieved in the qualifying round were impressive enough for FEI to publish an article on their website titled “King Criollo”.

Every year in Argentina, the Criollos participate in a 15-day, 750-kilometer-long endurance ride.

The Criollos must carry a total of 242 pounds, and are allowed to eat only grass that they find along the way, and are not allowed to get any supplement food.

When the Criollo horse was crossed with the Thoroughbred, it helped to create Argentina’s world-famous polo pony.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names

“Criollo” (Argentina), “Crioulo” (Brazil),”Costeño/Morochuco (Peru), “Corralero” (Chile), “Llanero” (Venezuela)


Intelligent, willing, and sensible

Physical Characteristics

Compact and robust, with a straight or convex head, a wide chest, and well-developed joints.

It is well-known for its toughness and endurance.

The Criollo is a hardy horse with a brawny and strong body with broad chest and well-sprung ribs.

They have sloping strong shoulders with muscular necks, short and strong legs with good bone structure and resistant joints, low-set hocks, and sound hard feet.

Straight or slightly convex profile, wide eyes, medium to big long muzzled head.

A sloping croup, well-muscled haunches, and a short back with a powerful loin are all characteristics of this breed.

They have the ability to thrive in severe environments, since the climate in their homeland ranges from very cold to extremely hot.

These horses have thick manes and tails, and some are gaited.


Colors include bay, brown, black, grullo, buckskin, palomino, blue or strawberry roan, gray, and overo, however, the line-backed dun is the most popular color.

Typical Criollo features also include a dorsal stripe along the back and zebra stripes on their legs. Some Criollos also have curly coats.

Height (size)

Average 14.3 hands high


14.0 – 15.0 hh





Blood Type


Common Uses

Rodeos, working cattle, polo, trail riding, western disciplines


They have good disease resistance and are long-lived horses

Popular Traits

Long-distance endurance linked to a low basal metabolism


They don’t need much grass to thrive

Country of Origin

The Pampas (a natural region between Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay)


Andalusian horse, Peruvian Paso, the Venezuelan Llanero, Lusitano