The best business ventures are usually those that come to you naturally, satisfying your own needs or particular calling. New Horizon Peruvians is no exception.
“In 1988 I was searching for a comfortable horse that would look after my husband when he learned to ride,” explains Sherri Rosia of Cochrane, AB. “I didn’t realize how that search would totally change our lives.”
Sherri had grown up with horses, but married a non-rider. “When our oldest son, Tanner, began to beg for a horse I thought – yes, there is a God!” Sherri laughs. “Soon we owned a number of horses of various breeds. But my husband found trotting down the trails a miserable experience, so we began searching for a family-safe gaited horse.” Sherri had an uncle that was a gaited horse judge, so with his assistance the family test rode a wide variety of breeds including Tennessee Walkers, Icelandic Ponies, Paso Finos and Missouri Fox Trotters. “We looked everywhere, even in the United States, and while we found some great horses, there wasn’t one that was ideal for our situation,” Sherri says.
After a year of endless searching Sherri’s uncle decided to allow the family an opportunity to try one of his personal horses, a Peruvian Paso mare that was used for breed demos. “This was a horse that my uncle wanted to keep forever,” Sherri said. “She was one of those rare horses that anyone could ride.”
The family travelled to Em-Te-Town where they met up with a group of Peruvian Horse owners that were trail riding in the area. “Dinamita, the mare, was a 15 hh bay with a big soft eye, and I liked her immediately,” Sherri says. The boys, who were seven and five, rode Dinamita and managed well. Sherri’s husband, feeling self-conscious, waited until everyone had returned to their campsites for the evening before mounting the horse.” They were a perfect match,” Sherri says. “My husband kept grinning, and finally he said ‘I have to have this horse, go make a deal with your uncle!’”
The family enjoyed Dinamita so much they purchased a half-sister the following year, and others soon followed. “When Tanner was 11 he wanted a horse of his own,” Sherri says. “We purchased a Peruvian gelding named Sobresaliente (nicknamed Ace), and Tanner did every aspect of that horse’s care. He fed him, gave him his shots, and saddled him by standing on a bucket. As Tanner got taller the buckets got smaller, and soon there wasn’t anything that horse wouldn’t have done for the boy, and vice versa!” That first summer Tanner and Ace won a Champion of Champions award at the Lloydminster show, competing against adults. Eventually the pair earned three consecutive Canadian Nationals titles in the Pleasure Division. “Winning three Champion of Champions is called a Laureado, and earns the owner a Laureado chain,” Sherri explains. “After you earn a Laureado chain you cannot compete in that division anymore. Tanner was the first child that ever earned that award.”
New Horizon Peruvians now owns 19 Peruvian Paso horses, with two being stallions and the rest broodmares and young horses. “We raise only two foals a year,” Sherri explains. “And the mares that don’t have foals are still used for showing and general riding. Our goal is to produce horses that anyone can handle. We don’t want hot show horses, we want good moving horses that can do a variety of jobs.”
Sherri explains that the Peruvian Paso horse has a unique gait called the paso llano. This gait has an action where the front legs are swung from the shoulder much like the arm motion of a person swimming. This action, called termino, produces a ride that is smooth and effortless to sit. “You can ride a Peruvian in any type of saddle; English, Western, Australian or even bareback,” Sherri says. “But the saddle has to be kept off their shoulder and scapula so they can move properly. Slowly we’ve purchased special tack from Peru that works perfectly for these horses. We use that tack for showing, and also for trail riding.”
Sherri quickly points out that the movement of a Peruvian is a result of genetics and conformation, and is not trained into the horse. At Peruvian shows all horses must compete in bare feet with hooves no longer than four inches to ensure the horses are gaiting naturally.
“We do most of our trail riding with other Peruvian riders because we all travel the same way, at the same speed,” Sherri says. “Peruvian horses can paso llano 30 miles, while travelling at a speed that would force other horses to trot. I like to tell people ‘If you buy a Peruvian you’ll be riding a La-Z-Boy chair down the trail!’” .