Italy is probably the country in Europe where most Criollos are, due to an important sea shipping traffic between Uruguay, Argentina and Italy. Indeed, during almost thirty years, an important Italian horse business man from the region of Piemonte (North Italy) used sea shipping to import in Italy horses from Uruguay and Argentina. Each ship used to bring around 1400 horses, including a great number of pure breed Criollos but mainly horses “mestizos”, to sell them as riding horses or as slaughter horses. The most beautiful purebred Criollos made possible the development of the first breeds in Italy and Germany.
If this business contributed to the introduction of the Criollo horse in Europe, it also forested the introduction of a huge number of “mestizos”, commonly named “Argentinian Horses” and many times, improperly called “criollos” that, even if they were most of the time excellent riding horses and/or working cow horses, had neither an official pedigree, nor a morphology similar to the purebred Criollo’s morphology.
In 2010, the horse sea shipping was interrupted and prohibited for administrative and economic reasons. However, a lot of Italian people are still remembering with some nostalgia this period because the unloading of so many horses used to be a real show that encouraged the diffusion and the love of the Gaucho Culture in Italy.
If today it is almost impossible to determine the exact number of Criollo horses living in Italy because most of them belong to individual owners, some of these owners willing to develop in a more structured and organized way the development and the promotion of the breed in Italy founded the Italian Criollos Breeding Association decided in 2007: “Associazione Nazionale Allevatori Cavallo Criollo” (ANACC).
Italy has today 10 breeders officially registered and members of the ANACC. Those breeds are quite small with an average of 1 to two broodmares per breed. However, in 2015, the ANACC registered two new breeders with more than three broodmares.
The ANACC was founded in 2007 by Eugenio De Flores and Laura Campiglio and used to have in its Administrative Board a mix of breeders and Criollo aficionados. In 2013, new elections of the Board were organized and since this year the Administrative Board counts 5 breeders only with a President, Mr. Denis Lanzanova. This change appeared to be necessary in order to give to the breeders, which include owners of stallions and/or broodmares, a central role in the development of the association and the promotion of the Criollo in Italy.
Today there are 40 members in the ANACC including the 10 breeders. The ANACC has an open system of membership. This means that to be part of the ANACC it is sufficient with being a Criollo lover and paying an annual fee.
Photo: Uruguayan Criollo Stallion Del Mate Malu, owned by Celine Coufinhal
One of the ANACC’s goal is to promote in Italy the Criollo which supposes to urgently fight against some popular common believes coming from the Horse Sea Shipping Period pursuant to which an “Argentinian Horse” is a Criollo. As a consequence, the ANACC is curtly trying to explain to people interested in Criollos that a Criollo is a purebred horse, the product of a natural and human selection undertaken more than a century ago, with a very determined morphology and character, registered in official breeding registries.
The ANACC is also willing to create a book registering all the Criollos living in Italy.
The ANACC organizes some events to promote the Criollo breed. The main event organized by the ANACC takes place during the Fiera Cavalli in Verona at the beginning of November, since 2008 (except 2013 where the ANACC had no representation during the Fiera). During this very big show, the ANACC offers different animations and shows like a Flags Show, a European Morphology Competition with judges coming from Uruguay and Argentina, and disposes of stables and a desk to welcome visitors.
Morphology competition Verona November 2015
Morphology competition November 2016