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  • Writer's pictureMary Juan

Horses in Belize

Belize’s relationship with horses is long and colorful. Initially they were used for light field work and transportation between inland settlements.

However, the growth of cattle farms in the west and north of the country meant they became an essential part of the economy.

Initially, ‘criollo’ type horses, short and tough, were the dominant breed but quarter horse blood was soon introduced. Crosses between the criollos and the quarter horses became the dominant all-purpose animals for farm work.

The growth of the chicle industry saw the demand for horses and mules grow significantly. As mule and horse trains supplied the chicleros in the industry and brought the chicle to the towns, they were critical for the industry’s growth.

Today, most horses are used in the traditional Mennonite communities for general farm work and pulling buggies. These horses also tend to be a mix of quarter horse, Arab and thoroughbred breeds.

In fact, these have become the dominant breeds for all purpose farm work throughout the country. Appaloosas are also growing in popularity as trail horses for horseback riding to waterfalls and ancient Maya ruins within the tourism industry.

With their undoubted beauty, endurance and strength, horses will continue to be an important part of Belize’s rich cultural heritage.

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