Just How Ancient is the Peruvian Paso Breed?

July 28, 2011

We know from reading Dr. Deb Bennett’s seminal work “Conquerors, The Roots of New World Horsemanship” that the first horses were brought to Peru in 1531 AD by Francisco Pizarro and Hernando De Soto during the Spanish conquest of Peru. Those first horses were brought from Spanish stud farms in Panama and Nicaragua. The early Peruvian horses were imported primarily from the Province of Andalusia and were primarily of Andalusian, Spanish Jennet and African Barb blood lines. The horses thrived in Peru and over the centuries their breeders have been careful to preserve their inherent qualities, especially their ambling gait.

Almost five hundred years is a pretty old breed. However, horses have been domesticated much longer than that. In May of this year Becky and I traveled to Greece to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. There we visited Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games held in 776 BC. In fact those games were held continuously every four years at Olympia for over 1000 years. The games there were ended in 393 AD by Imperial decree of Theodosius I, the emperor of Byzantium.

At some point in the history of the games at Olympia horse racing and chariot racing were added as contests. It was common for the winner of an event to celebrate his victory by commissioning a commemorative statue or figurine and offering it for display at Olympia. One such bronze figurine has survived the millennium and is now on display at the Museum of Olympia. This figurine is one horse of a four horse chariot team which was cast in bronze. While at the Museum, I took several pictures of this now famous little bronze. The figurine is now simply known as “The Horse of Olympia”. Once I returned home it seemed to me that there were certain features of this artist’s stylized rendition of this chariot horse which reminded me of our own Peruvian Paso horses, especially WF Prodigio. So Kaitlin Kaiser and I took pictures of WF Prodigio and they are presented here along with the corresponding pictures I took of the “Horse of Olympia” for your consideration. See what you think. The “Horse of Olympia” is dated by the Museum as 470 BC, nearly 2,500 years ago! Now that is truly ancient!!