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History of the Peruvian horse breed dates back to when the Spanish conquistadors brought a mix of several horses to Peru, where their adaptation to walking on sand created the four beat lateral gate that gives them the reputation as the “smoothest riding horse in the world.”
About 60 of these horses were shown in competition at the Sooner State Regional Peruvian Horse Show Friday-Sunday at the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center. Eight of those horses belonged to Luis and Jeanelle Dapelo.
Luis is president of the Board of Directors for the Sooner State region and is originally from Peru. He and his wife now live in Weatherford, Texas on their property, Pecan Valley Ranch.
“Thirty-three years ago, my father and a group of people from Peru brought about 100 horses to Texas,” said Dapelo. “They sold them to well-known people so they could promote the breed.”
It was in the 1940s when a group of friends in Peru got together to form an association — the ANCPCPP — for the breed so they could professionally show them. Included in that group was Dapelo’s grandfather and father.
“I am fourth generation in breeding, training, showing and judging in my family; I was practically born in the stall,” he said. “Through the years, (the association) has gotten better and we have horses that have presence now.”
Some of the esteemed people who had those horses sold to them decades ago included Jerry Freeman Sr. with Free Oaks Farm and Dr. Robert Noble with Hacienda del Paso. From those sales and representation, the breed awareness and ownership in the U.S. grew. Texas and California host the biggest numbers of Peruvian horses.
“It was slow because of the economy for a while but I think it is picking up now,” Dapelo said. “In the U.S. now, there are over 25,000 Peruvian horses.”
Peruvian horse shows are distinctive from other equestrian competitions because of both the style of contests and the exhibitor’s dress. While competing, exhibitors are decked in all white.
“That is very traditional from Peru with the white hat and scarf,” said Dapelo. “In the beat competition, we also wear ponchos.”
There are three different class competitions at a Peruvian horse show: halter classes, bosal classes and beat classes. Halter is for the beginning training of a Peruvian horse and bosal is the next step. In between bosal and beat is another round of training that isn’t competed in at a show. Finally, after the horse has been completely trained, they compete in the beat class.
This is the first time for a Peruvian horse show to come to this area and Dapelo said he has enjoyed the association’s decision to visit Duncan.
“We came out here and met Mike Anderson (director of the SCFEC), who is a wonderful person and agreed to have the show here,” he said.
“It’s a new place and we love the facilities because they are clean and it’s a great location for everyone to come. We hope to continue the show here and the crew out here has been very helpful and so nice.”
Championship show is free today at the Expo Center, and begins at 9 a.m.