Rare Peruvian Horses to Compete at Equestrian Center

The Iowa Equestrian Center

In a celebration of culture, history and equine beauty, rare Peruvian horses from across the country will compete at the 15th annual Fiesta del Norte Peruvian horse show August 16-17 at the Iowa Equestrian Center. The show is free and open to the public.

Also known as Peruvian pasos, the modern breed is descended from the mounts of the Spanish conquistadors. They’re known for their smooth, four-beat, ground-covering gait, beauty and gentle dispositions. For 500 years, they were bred in isolation in Peru as elegant transportation across the rugged and varied terrain of South America. You can see video of this completely natural gait here. This gait is not trained into the horse.

Since they were first exported to the United States in the 1960s (it was previously illegal to take the horses from their home country), the breed has become popular with riders who enjoy the bounce-free glide, particularly with people who suffer from chronic injuries that can be aggravated by jarring diagonal gaits. The Peruvian horse is a separate breed from the paso fino.

The Peruvian show will be judged by the Honorable Lucho Dapelo, a trainer and breeder originally from Peru. Dapelo and his wife Jeanelle breed, show and sell champion Peruvian horses from their home, Pecan Valley Ranch, in Weatherford, Texas.

This is the first year for the show to be held in Cedar Rapids; exhibitors and riders from across the country will compete in a variety of classes, including the traditional Champagne Performance. In this class, riders take to the arena holding a glass of champagne (or sparkling water for minors) to exhibit the remarkable smoothness of the Peruvian’s gait. Whoever ends the class with the most champagne in the glass wins. The show also includes breeding, performance and gait classes.

This year, a fully trained horse will be auctioned after lunch on Sunday, August 17. The horse is generously donated by Dr. Gail and Connie Benson of Bentwood Place, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Bensons are longtime breeders, competitors and supporters of the Fiesta del Norte show. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Fiesta del Norte Show and our ongoing efforts to share and promote the Peruvian horse.

Classes start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, August 16, and will end in the late afternoon each day of the show. Exhibitors and spectators are also invited to an informational session Friday, August 15, at 4 p.m.

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