This particular breed is derived from some of the finest horses brought from Spain to South America in the 1500s; many of them were escapees in battle or simply scattered in the many battles. Afterwards, they were on their own and they either survived or suffered because of the harsh conditions. The ones that survived passed their superior traits on to their offspring, and from this came the Criollo. They are found throughout South America, but they are highly concentrated in Peru and Argentina. Their endurance cannot be matched by many horses; the only one that really comes close is the Arabian.
The Criollo has a naturally low basal metabolism, it has proven on some occasions to be a better long distance horse than the Arabian because in the occasional prolonged race; they can go longer without supplemental food.
The word Criollo originally referred to animal and people that were born of pure Spanish ancestry in the Americas or it referred Portuguese term criulo, which meant any animal or African American born in the Americas.
Since the Criollo horse is known for its endurance, it is no surprise that they have a couple that are famous for completing a great distance and even better, completing it with little trouble. "Mancha" and "Gato" completed a 13,350-mile trip between Buenos Aires and New York. At one point of the journey, they reached an altitude of 19,250 feet and even crossed 93 miles of desert with temperatures reaching clear up to 120 degrees; the trip through the rough desert was also amazingly done without water. There is now an annual endurance ride through Argentina that lasts 15 days covering over 470 miles. One such event is known as "La Marcha." The only rules and requirements are that the horse must carry up to 242 pounds on the trip and they are not allowed any food besides what is found along the trip's trail, which is naturally only grass.
During the 19th century, the breed began to suffer from neglect and the low birth rates. Attempts at cross breeding with European Thoroughbred coach and draft horses almost ruined the Spanish horse type. So in 1918, the Argentina Criollo purebred registry was put into process, then in 1923 the registry was created. In 1934, the breeders association was under the control by Dr. Solanet, who had distinct plans for the future of the breed. They were trying to make a shorter more compact stock horse; it was by 1938, that 70% of the registered Criollos were culled or selectively picked from different herds because they didn't meet the new standards of the registry.
Because there was so much cross breeding, naturally the Criollo had a few that were of different nationalities. Such a couple are the Asian and the African which is taller, has a thinner mane and tail, a convex head, and fallen croup.