By PetMD Editorial on Dec. 20, 2009

The Costeño, or Peruvian Paso, is a common horse breed that originated from, where else, Peru. Its fluid gait, endurance, and "cow sense" make the Costeño a great mount for those working in the cattle ranches of Peru. It is also adapted to high altitudes, often working in mountainous areas over 9,000 feet above sea level.


Physical Characteristics

The Costeño is a muscular horse with a brawny neck, back, and legs. Its legs have clean tendons and short cannons; the croup is round and sloping. The horse's shoulders, on the other hand, are sloped and long. The chest conforms to the rest of the horse’s proportions; it is both deep and broad. Overall, the Costeño has striking strength and elegant form. It also has a great sense of balance, making it a great saddle-horse for high-altitude and mountainous places.


On average, the Costeño is 14.1 to 14.2 hands tall (56-57 inches, 142-145 centimeters). The most common coat colors for the breed are black, bay, gray, and dun.



The Costeño is not a delicate breed. It is one of the tougher breeds of saddle-horse, reared in and acclimatized as it is to mountainous terrain. In fact, it thrives in the mountainous areas of Peru such as the Callejon de Huaylas, the Cajamarca, and the Huancayo.


Unfortunately, these areas have been experiencing continuous rains. While the rain itself does not faze the Costeño, it has degraded the soil and the area where the horses graze. A result of the rains is the gradual decrease in mineral content in the area, thus the relatively low levels of minerals in the Costello’s diet. This has led to health and nutrition problems for the breed. Breeders, therefore, must ensure that the Costeño is getting the right nutrients and minerals; they should perform supplemental feeding if necessary.


History and Background


Modern Peruvian horses are all descendants of the horses brought by the Spanish Conquistadors to help in their efforts of colonizing and "civilizing" the New World. These horses, which were probably of Barb and Spanish descent, were then interbred with horses imported from the United States. Three specific horse breeds resulted from the Peruvian breeders’ efforts: the Morochuco and the Chumbivilcas -- collectively known as the Peruvian Andean -- and the Costeño de Paso, or Costeño, in which the fluid and lateral gait of its Spanish Jennet ancestors is apparent.


The Costello is a widely-respected horse breed in Peru mainly because of its great "cow sense" and aptitude for navigating high altitudes. In fact, its name in the native tongue is Costeño de Paso Aclimatado a la Altura, which describes the horse's aptitude for high altitudes.

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