The Criollo horse is the native horse of Uruguay (1910), Argentina (1918), Brazil (1932) and Paraguay. Criollo is the Spanish name for the breed and in Portuguese it is known as the Crioulo. These horses may just have the best insurance of any horse in the world next to the Arabian. They have a low basal metabolism which makes them better long-distance horses than the Arabian in prolonged races over a week in duration with no supplemental feed. Criollo horses are known for their hardiness and stamina and are most popular in their home nations.
The name, Criollo, originally referred to humans and animals of pure-bred Spanish ancestry that were born in the Americas, or, in Portuguese crioulo, to animals or slaves born in the Americas. In time, the meaning of the word would simply come to refer to native breeds of the Americas.
These horses are known for being hardy with a brawny and very strong body. They have broad chests and very well sprung ribs. Their shoulders are strong tend to slope and they also have muscular necks, short and strong legs with good bone structure and resistant joints. Criollo horses also have low-set hocks and sound hard feet.
The head of this breed is usually straight or slightly convex in profile and it is medium to large in size with a long muzzle and wide-set eyes. The croup is sloping, the haunches well-muscled, and the back, short with a strong loin. Their average height is 14.3 hands high between the maximum height for stallions and geldings of 14 to 15 hands high.
When it comes to their mental traits, the Criollo is an intelligent and sensible breed of horse that is tractable and very willing. When it comes to color the most popular is the line-backed dun, however, the breed also comes in bay, brown, black, chestnut, grullo, buckskin, blue or strawberry roan, palomino, gray and overo colors.
They are known for their ability to live in harsh conditions and their endurance capabilities, as their homeland has both extreme heat as well as very cold weather. When it comes to eating the Criollo horse is very frugal and they thrive on little grass. As well as their hardiness they also have good resistance to disease and are long-lived horses.