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May 17, 2013

State of the Peruvian Horse Breed in the United States

Rich Ovenburg

I found this on the internet

Endangered species
State of the Peruvian Horse Breed in the United States

There were less than 100 new foals registered in 2012. The prospects in the next three years are that there will be less than 300 Peruvian Horses registered from 2012 to 2014. At this rate we will have a ten-year total of about 1200 registered foals in the United States.

Do we blame the bad economy? Aren't all breeds having the same problems? As the economy recovers won't the Peruvian Horse business?
As far as the Peruvian Horse business in the United States is concerned, probably not, because the economy is only a small part of the problem.

In the 1990's the Peruvian horse industry was expanding and growing, the number of registered Peruvian Horse foals in 1997 was at about 750 and growing 10% every year. The years 1999 to 2001 the number of new foals topped out at close to 1000 each year. The year 2002 saw a slow decline in registrations and by 2004 the number was back down to about 600. The totals by 2007 were down to less than 500 a year and still dropping. So what was happening to the Peruvian Horse business? The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for the United States from 2002 to 2004 spiked to above 4% and stayed above 3% until 2007, the economy was humming along, so what happened? If Peruvian Horse breeding had been strong in 2003 those horses would be 8 years old now, so horses bred in 2003, 2004 and 2005 would be 8, 7, and 6 and we would see them in our shows. The American Quarter Horse registrations were strong from 2000 until 2007 and they actually saw a slight increase in registrations in 2007- 2008 before a 20% decrease in 2008-2009 as reflected by the economic downturn. The Peruvian horse breeders in Peru are now producing over 1200 new foals a year and just set a record for their National show of 850 horses.

The Peruvian Horse began its surge of popularity in the United States in the late 1970's and early 1980's, but even then there were some problems. As Vern Albright, Peruvian Horse historian, stated in his book "The Peruvian Paso and His Classic Equitation" (published 1993) right from the beginning some American breeders "threatened to reduce this unique and very uncommon breed to a mere shadow of itself" with no real knowledge of horses, they thought of the Peruvian Horse as nothing more than a "smooth Quarter horse". While the Peruvian Horse is the smoothest riding horse in the world, its biggest attribute, was to soon to become its biggest problem. Like someone with a new Ferrari and no knowledge of cars, things began to break down. People with almost no riding skill and very little knowledge of horses could take these beautiful animals and head for the trails. However, the real problems began when these same unskilled riders started breeding Peruvian Horses and then became the leaders of Peruvian Paso Horse Registry of North America, the national organization for the Peruvian Horse.

Poor decisions in the breeding barn soon translated into poor quality horses with lots of leg problems. Taking no responsibility for their breeding mistakes, these new breeders with no knowledge of horse breeding, hired a veterinarian who had never done any research, to research their breeding problems. The results would become disastrous for the Peruvian Horse.

Talking before the American Association Equine Practitioners in 2002 Dr Jeanette Mero claimed that Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis or DSLD, a made-up disease with no base in any science, was genetic, deadly and incurable, and was causing many Peruvian Horses to go lame and be put down. In fact, Dr Mero claimed that Peruvian Horses were "predisposed" to getting DSLD. This report was sent to every veterinarian in the country and was reported in EQUUS magazine, the top equine journal in North America with a circulation of 150,000 horse owners.

Alamo Pintado one of the top equine research clinics in the country and a clinic that had extensive experience with Peruvian Horses, disputed these claims in a letter to Peruvian horse breeders that said "The simple answer to this problem is to not breed bad-legged horses to bad-legged horses, or to breed any horse with a severe inherited conformation fault. Once that becomes obvious, the problem goes away."

However, the National Organization for the Peruvian Horse in America (now called NAPHA) not only continued to raise money and support Dr Mero, a few years later in 2004 they helped support and fund Dr Halper's research from the University of Georgia. Dr Halper, a biochemist who's primary research up until this point had been with chickens, claimed in her research paper, that DSLD while still "predisposed" to Peruvian Horses, was in fact a proteoglycan accumulation. She claimed that by cutting into the nuchal ligament of your Peruvian Horse and sending her the sample, (along with a fee), she could diagnose your horse. As ridiculous as these claims proved to be, Dr Halpers research paper was sent to every veterinary clinic around the world and was posted on the front of the NAPHA website in 2006.

It didn't take to long before every injury, stone bruise or poorly bred Peruvian Horse was diagnosed with DSLD. If Peruvian Horse breeders bred poor quality horses, or if their horses became injured or lame, it just wasn't their fault, it was in the blood of their Peruvian Horses.

Today there are several websites and blogs on the internet that will sell Peruvian Horses owners herbs to cure DSLD or tell them which bloodlines to avoid. You can get information on how to send a nuchal ligament sample to Dr Halper or some DSLD groups even offer to diagnose your Peruvian Horse from a picture and now DSLD has its own Facebook page. Look up Peruvian Paso on Wikapedia and it connects DSLD to the Peruvian Horse as a "genetic condition" even though a $250,000 study at the University of Kentucky in 2005 could find no genetic connection to any disease.

A web search by potential buyers of Peruvian Horses will produce pictures of poorly conformed, broken down Peruvian Horses, which are said to have a deadly incurable disease. The few Peruvian Horse breeders left are now being harassed and told that their healthy stallions are carriers of DSLD.

No one in the United States is investing in Peruvian horses any more, no one in this country is buying Peruvian Horses and certainly no one is breeding Peruvian Horses. There were less than 100 new foals registered in 2012.


Mar 12, 2013

Liens bill to relax horse sales
Boise Idaho

Capital Press - Mar 8, 2013

BOISE -- A bill that would make it easier for people who have horses dumped on them to sell the animals is sailing through the Idaho Legislature.

The bill passed the House 69-0 Feb. 26 and has been sent to the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee.

The legislation would amend Idaho's livestock liens law to allow people who are owed money for horse services they provided or who have horses dumped on them to offer the animals directly to the public for sale. Under current Idaho law, horses with liens can only be sold at licensed public livestock auctions.

The problem with the current law is no public livestock auctions in Idaho accept horses, said Larry Hayhurst, Idaho's state brand inspector. With 200,000 horses in the state, it has become a problem for the industry, he said.

"The horse market is on its face. You can't hardly give them away," he said. "The poor horse people don't have anywhere to go."

Hayhurst said his office can't even take strays to sales yards without paying them $150 per animal to take them.

"This is just a fix for the horse people so they have an option," he said.

A livestock lien is similar to a lien that a mechanic places on a car if an owner doesn't pay for repairs.

As an example, Hayhurst said the bill would benefit someone who boards horses, rents pasture or trains horses and doesn't get paid for their services.

"If you're boarding 20 horses and you don't get paid, you have nowhere to go right now," he said.

While those people are still unlikely to break even if they sell their horses to the public, the new law "would at least allow them to stop the bleeding," Hayhurst told lawmakers.

Idaho's livestock liens law applies to horses and cattle, but Hayhurst said the changes wouldn't apply to cattle.

"There is absolutely no problem with cattle going to a licensed public livestock auction," he said.

Horse owner Connie Blayney, a member of the Idaho Horse Council's board of directors, said the bill's passage would be a big benefit to the industry.

"If someone were to dump a horse on you or if you own a boarding house and someone left you high and dry, this would give you an opportunity to get rid of those horses," she said. "Otherwise, you just have to keep them and there are no other options."

Jan 4, 2013
Dear friends:
So that you all know that the government of Peru has declared the Peruvian Paso Horse as a “PRODUCTO BANDERA” of our nation along with 10 other products of Peru as the Pisco and others. We are proud of this award to say the less.
Best regards,
Here is the document:


Gerente General
Cel: (51) 99358-6720
Nex: (51) 98148*8511


Jan 27, 2012


Oregon wildlife officials say a mule found dead recently in northeast Oregon’s Wallowa County was probably killed by wolves.

The mule carcass was found on private rangeland east of Joseph, OR. Wolf tracks were found in the snow nearby. Officials also considered a history of recent livestock kills in the area.

Source: Capital Press (Jan 27, 2012)

How long will it be before a horse is taken by wolves?


Farmers shouldn't own animals, but Michael Vick can.

When the CEO of a Humane Society says convicted dog-fighting kingpin Michael Vick would do a good job as pet owner, it should raise more red flags than a Chinese parade. That’s just what happened two weeks ago as Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), endorsed Vick’s future as a dog owner.

If that seems out of the mainstream, or sounds like something your local humane society would never say, you’re on to something.

HSUS isn’t a pet shelter organization. It’s an animal rights group that has grand designs on reshaping Americans’ relationship with animals especially the animals we eat.

With the words Humane Society in its name, it’s easy to be confused about what HSUS does. A poll this year from Opinion Research Corporation (CNN’s political prognosticators) found that 71 percent of Americans think the organization is an umbrella group for pet shelters.

It isn’t. HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter, and it’s not affiliated with any.

The same poll found that 59 percent of Americans think HSUS gives most of its money to pet shelters. But real humane societies and other local hands-on pet shelters only share in about 1 percent of its $120 million budget at least if you believe HSUS’s own tax returns. (To learn more, visit www.HumaneWatch.org.)

It turns out that HSUS despite the puppies, kitties, and animal welfare messages in its fundraising materials is actually an animal rights group. That’s a horse of a very different color.

Think about the notorious wackos at PETA. HSUS is just PETA in a suit and tie. The two groups share the same goals, but HSUS goes about its work without naked interns or red-paint bombs.

Fundamental to animal rights activists is the idea that animals have a right not to be eaten (by people, at least). And forget zoos. Seeing eye dogs are slaves. Your home aquarium is a little fish prison. And cancer research can’t use mice unless they sign tiny consent forms.

Since 2004, when Wayne Pacelle became the first strict vegan to hold HSUS’s top job, he’s increased its number of lawyers ten-fold. He steered millions in public donations to his staff (and himself), diverting money from pets to pension plans and big-business-level salaries. Pacelle recruited top PETA staffers to run shareholder activism against food companies, and to produce the kind of anti-farmer schlock-u-mentary films that made their PETA mentors famous.

HSUS’s lawyers sue. Its PR flacks create media frenzies. And its propagandists publish guides to eating more humanely (i.e., dropping that cheeseburger).

The Humane Society of the United States is also tied into the fringe environmental movement. At this month’s Cancun climate change junket, HSUS’s international arm showed up to try and tie meat-eating to planetary destruction. There’s no truth to it, of course livestock agriculture in the U.S. accounts for less than 3 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions but why let facts get in the way?

No one should deny animal activists the right to argue for their preferred worldview. If Scientologists and Raelian cultists have free-speech rights, practitioners of the animal-worship religion should too. But when you’re a PETA knock-off with a bigger bank account, some transparency is in order. Especially when your staff includes a key decision-maker who has endorsed violence and arson.

HSUS tells the public that it simply wants more humane standards for raising animals. But the group’s leaders don’t believe there is such a thing as humane meat.

More humane is a loosey-goosey term in a clever semantic game, but this Humane Society thinks humane means meatless. That’s far outside what the Average Joe believes.

We all want cats and dogs to find homes, and to not be abused. About 99.99 percent of us, for instance (HSUS’s president notwithstanding), understand that giving Michael Vick a pet will always be a risky proposition.

But it turns out that America doesn’t actually have a real national humane society. There simply is no big umbrella group that raises money for the pet shelter in your community. If you want to support your local humane society, you’re going to have to do it yourself.

Don’t expect HSUS’s leaders to send your donation back into your community. They need that money to outlaw chicken nuggets.

(From the Daily Caller)

May 22, 2009


In 2006, Dr Halper from the University of Georgia, with the support of our National Organization, released a News Bulletin to the entire equine world. That press release sent to every vet clinic in the United States claimed that Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis was actually a “systematic disorder involving accumulation of proteoglycans” and claimed that “it was most common in Peruvian Pasos” The claim was also made that they had developed a test and that the since the disease “tends to run in families” by simply cutting into the nuchal ligament of horses and looking for proteoglycans.  “Peruvian horse owners can choose not to breed predisposed horses” Dr Halper even changed the name to Equine Systemic Proteoglycans Accumulation…
ESPA                                                                                                                                       Every veterinary clinic in the country now has this information

The only problem with all of this is ……
none of it is true.

Simply by looking at Dr Halpers own charts it became obvious that the data did not back up the conclusions and we stated this in the Misdiagnosis Report in 2007.

Now six Doctors from across the country, in an independent abstract study came to the exact same conclusion. 
Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis is Not a Systemic Proteoglycan Disease - April 2009, J Gallante, Orthopedic surgery Rush Medical College, Chicago Il. R Poole, Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University   D Schenkman, Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin. A Armier, Veterinary Population Medicine, University of Minnesota J Williams, , Orthopedic surgery Rush Medical College, Chicago Il R Schultz Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin.
Taken from their conclusion: “In contrast to the findings of a previous study, proteoglycans deposition was not unique to DSLD horses, and Proteoglycan deposition in aortas and nuchal  ligaments of some control horses exceeded levels of proteoglycans presents in similar DSLD horses. We found no evidence that DSLD is a systemic proteoglycans deposition disease.”

From the Misdiagnosis report 2007

“However, by simply looking at Dr Halper's own charts we can see that the unaffected Peruvian control horse has this accumulation in as many places as the affected horses and five of seven of the unaffected control horses would test positive with a nuchal ligament biopsy”

The fact remains that what people call DSLD is for the most part an accumulation of small injuries that when left untreated become chronic.           To find out more about these injuries go to,
WWW.friendsoftheperuvianhorse.com  and click on healthy horses. To read the full “Misdiagnosis Report”  click on research.

Rich Ovenburg 



Apr 9, 2008

Activists fight horse exports to Mexico

As slaughter drops off in U.S., attention shifts to live exports

The irony is that more horses are now being shipped to Mexico as the result of horse slaughter bans in several U.S. states, said Tom Lenz, a veterinarian, past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and chair of the Unwanted Horse Coalition.

"What's going on today is exactly what we predicted," he said.

Horse slaughter isn't banned at the federal level, but bans in Illinois and Texas effectively shut down the last three remaining plants in the U.S. last year. Since then, exports of horses for slaughter have surged, Lenz said.

About 10,900 horses have been sent to Mexico for slaughter so far in 2008, up from about 4,900 at the time last year - more than a twofold increase, according to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

"Nobody is raising horses in this country to be processed. ... These are just discarded horses," said Lenz. "If there were no longer horses being discarded, there would be no horse slaughter in this country."

from a recent article in the Capital Press, Oregon edition

Jun 25, 2007


This letter was written in 2002. Alamo Pintado has once again given permission to pass this letter on to the Peruvian horse world. They have treated hundreds of Peruvian horses since 2002 and still feel the same today as they did when they originally wrote and signed this letter.

Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, Inc.

To: Peruvian Paso horse owners

Re: Suspensory Ligament Desmitis

Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center has been treating horses for over 30 years in Los Olivos, California. We see horses of all breeds and of all equine performance sports. We have always seen a large number of Peruvian Paso horses because of our locale to many top Peruvian breeders and trainers in the Santa Ynez Valley and California.

In the last six years we have diagnosed well over 1,000 suspensory ligament injuries in horses associated with racing, jumping, dressage, cutting and endurance events. We have diagnosed approximately 8 Peruvian Paso horses with suspensory ligament injuries during the same time period. Of these 8 injuries in the Peruvian Paso horses, six were determined to be typical overuse injuries and were treated as such at APEMC. Of the other two Peruvian Paso horses that did not fit the typical overuse injury, one was due to being extremely overweight and poorly taken care of and the other horse may have had what has been called degenerative suspensory ligament disease but it was not confirmed with any histologic evidence.

The veterinarians at APEMC have always found it to be curious that this condition of the Peruvian horse has not been described in any equine lameness or surgery text and has not surfaced as a cause of unsoundness in the Peruvian Paso horses that we have dealt with on a daily basis for the last 30 years. On the contrary, we have found suspensory desmitis to be very rare in the Peruvian Paso population that we treat compared to a relatively high incidence in the racehorse, jumper and dressage horses. We feel that these high rates are a factor of footing, training and shoeing problems. We do feel that some of these injuries are related to abnormal conformation in some horses and are not just occupational hazards. Some large breed broodmares that have had numerous foals will often develop a chronic progressive suspensory ligament degeneration and breakdown that is very difficult to treat as long as they remain heavy and continue to carry heavy pregnancies. Once this degenerative process develops it is not possible to reverse and return the suspensory branches to normal with rest or treatment. Weight management in any breed of horse is critical to health and soundness.

I am sure that this condition has been diagnosed and documented in a certain number of Peruvian Paso horses on some farms in the United States, but I have not heard of the numbers and the overall incidence as of yet. We have seen this identical problem in Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses, but these are horses that were poorly conformed and passed the predisposing conformation to their offspring. The simple answer to this problem is to not breed bad-legged horses to bad-legged horses, or to breed any horse with a severe inherited conformation fault. Once that becomes obvious, the problem goes away.

In our experience, the Peruvian Paso, as a breed, is a very tough, durable and sound breed of horse when compared to all the other breeds of horses we see at APEMC. I hope that the excitement and confusion over a small group of isolated horses does not continue to cast irresponsible unwarranted connotations on a very strong and sound breed of horse.

Doug Herthel, DVM Mark Rick, DVM
Greg Parks, DVM Ed Hamer, DVM
Carter Judy, DVM DACV