Breeds Native to South America
The Mangalarga Marchador
The Mangalarga Marchador is endemic to Brazil. It is the National Horse of Brazil and one of South America's most popular and widespread breeds. 'Mangalarga' was the name of the hacienda which acquired some of the first cross progeny. The 'marcha' of 'marchador' relates to the cadenced, rhythmic gait of the breed. There are several South American breeds which are gaited including the Peruvian Paso and the Paso Fino. These breeds have only lately become more easily accessible to horse-lovers in other countries although the Criollo and Falabella have been more in the public arena for a longer time.
The Mangalarga Marchador is founded on a single Alter Real stallion. The stallion was mated to native mares of Spanish Jennet and Barb blood. Other Alter Real and Andalusian blood was added. Many of these were 'gaited' and had a fast, smooth amble. It is this feature that differentiates the Mangalarga Marchador from other breeds. It is a good quality, finely built, riding horse. It is used extensively for stock work on the vast ranches of Brazil.
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In 1949, an association for the breed laid out standards in conformation, temperament and gait. Selective breeding for over 180 years has seen little or no introduction of outside blood. The breed is graceful, sure-footed, comfortable to ride and has an excellent temperament. It is essentially a working horse with phenomenal stamina.
The Mangalarga Marchador is between 14.2hh and 16hh and weighs around 1,000 pounds. Greys, bays and chestnuts are most common. It is intelligent, docile but with a commanding presence. Breeding stock is tested in cross country, endurance, reining and gaited tests. There are two different 'marcha' gaits. These accelerated races maintain regularity making the ride very smooth and comfortable.
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The marcha picada is a broken pace which produces little vertical movement. It has been likened to the paso fino, corto or largo and to the Peruvian paso llano. The marcha batida is a diagonal four beat gait, not unlike the trocha displayed by the Paso Fino breed.
The Mangalarga Marchador has an alert, attentive character and is easy to train. The neck is held quite high. The head is longish with medium length hears, a straight profile and open nostrils. The legs are tough with well-muscled thighs and forearms, big joints, long to medium sloping pasterns and very tough feet.
The breed reached the United States in 1991 and can also be found in Germany, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal and Italy as well as in most South American countries.