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Use and characteristics of the Campolina
The Campolina is a powerful and impressive horse with distinctive looks. Stallions average 15.2 hands (62 inches/158 cm) high and mares 15.0 hands (60 inches/152 cm) high. While no coat colours are disbarred, dun, buckskin, bay and pinto (Pampa) are most frequently seen, and they are all striking. Breeders sometimes also sell a Campolina that is dun-coloured with a dorsal stripe and zebra-style markings on the legs. Silver-grey is one of the most popular colours among equestrians who buy a Campolina. Campolinas have trapezoidal heads with convex profiles and flat foreheads. The smooth, comfortable four-beat ambling gait of the Campolina is known as the marcha verdadeira, or “true march”.
Origin and history of breeding Campolina horses
Some fascinating stories have grown up around the Campolina horses, including the suggestion that Cassiano Campolina developed the breed for a traditional event to celebrate the launch of a railway! It’s recognised that 1870 was the foundation date for the breed at his Fazenda Tanque estate in the famous horse-breeding area of Minas Gerais in Brazil. A black mare called "Medéia", a gift to Campolina from a friend named Antonio Cruz, was bred to an Andalusian stallion belonging to Mariano Procópio. Emperor Dom Pedro II himself had given the well-bred stallion to Procópio. Campolina was an experienced horse breeder with a clear vision of the type of horse he wanted to produce, a strong, characterful horse for riding and carriage work. The offspring of Medéia and the stallion was a stunning grey colt who would become Monarca, the foundation sire of the breed. Later, stallions of Anglo-Norman, Thoroughbred and Percheron were used as well. After Campolina’s death, his farm was bequeathed to Joaquim Pacheco de Resende, who decided that the gait of the Campolina would benefit from improvement. To this end, he used two Thoroughbred stallions and a walking stallion said to have Clydesdale ancestry. Holsteiner, American Saddlebred and finally Mangalarga Marchador horses contributed to the breed before the stud book was closed in 1934 with the establishment of the first breed standard. The breed organisation is known as the Campolina Breeders Association. Refinement of the breed focussed at first on conformation for a smooth and regular gait, with an emphasis on a rather long back and an even height in both withers and croup. Now that the breed is being used for dressage a slightly different conformation, with withers higher than the croup, is encouraged, and a somewhat different head and jaw shape have emerged.
Campolina horses in equestrianism
The popularity of the breed in Brazil proves the success of these strong horses with their muscular, yet elegant necks. Their conformation in outline is harmonious and balanced, from the long, well-set neck to the full croup. For pleasure or trail riding, and for harness and light draught work, the Campolina is a handsome all-rounder.