Part Two: Brother Judges:

To understand the popularity of this man, the affection that was felt for him even when he occupied the thankless and controversial post of judge, one needs to know something of don Antonio, the man. His greatest attributes are his unassuming manner and his remarkable sense of humor. His always seems to have his feet on the ground and his priorities in order. There is a story about him that illustrates this quite nicely.

Antonio and his brother, Fernando, were world class polo players. Antonio had a handicap of 5 and Fernando 6, the highest in Peru. They played on many outstanding teams together. The best teams they played on represented the Grana family Hacienda, Huando. One year they won every match in Peru except one, and over the years Huando won many important national and international prizes including the Prince of Wales Cup which was presented to they by the Prince, himself. Perhaps the most memorable competition that the Huando team ever entered was the first Pan American Games in 1951.The games were held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before 20,000 spectators at the largest polo club in the world, and teams entered from all over North and South America. In those days it was typical for the members of a polo team to travel to distant competitions and buy their horses locally. The Mexican team was so determined to win this particular competition that they arrived some two months ahead of time to buy their mounts and prepare them. Antonio arrived 3 days beforehand, and had to buy 14 horses for the Huando team before the first game. One day at the polo club a member of the Mexican team, practicing the intimidation that has always been part of contact sports, approached Antonio and during a conversation announced, "I'm not afraid of anything. I've broken every bone in my body at one time or another playing polo."

Antonio's lightening response to the Mexican Macho was so typical of him. Without batting an eye he said, "How silly. It isn't necessary to break your bones to play polo."

Incidentally, the Huando team won.

Don Antonio focused his efforts as judge on saving the gait of the Peruvian breed. In order to do this, he had to almost overemphasize the importance of the gait at the expense of other qualities. He was most certainly not unaware of the many other characteristics necessary in a good Peruvian horses. Once when a certain breeder arrived at one of the shows with two enormous, coarse and completely out-of type mares, don Antonio, upon seeing them pass during the prueba funcional* said to a friend, "Those mares are very nice, but I think the owner has forgotten something."

"What is that?" asked the friend.

"The plow."

Several of the most knowledgeable men in Peru, including no less an authority than Jose "Pepe" Musante, Sr. consider Antonio to have been the best of all the non-professional trainers of the last quarter century at least. No other gentleman trainer is regarded as having been his equal though several came close. Don Antonio's teacher was Huando's master trainer, Solomon Guerrero. Antonio has fond memories of Guerrero, and he particularly remembers the pains the man took to teach him Peruvian equitation.

Antonio has always been an avid sportsman. He enjoys many varied sports, and hunting is high up on his list of favorites. He was also a more than acceptable golfer, having been a member of Peru's National Senior Golf Team. In 1971, he represented Peruvian international competition for golfers over 55 years of age in Colorado Springs, Colorado, against teams from all over the world, including Hawaii, Japan, China and India.

When he announced that he would no longer accept the post of judge for the National Championship Show, Antonio suggested that his brother, Fernando, would make a suitable replacement. Don Fernando had the qualifications for the job. He was intelligent, cultured, sophisticated, eloquent and an accomplished lifelong horseman who knew many breeds and many equestrian forms from polo to working with fighting bulls. He was named to cojudge with Alex Zatak and Miguel Sarria in 1958 and 1959. Then from 1960 through 1968 he teamed up with Carlos Luna de la Fuente and Carlos Gonzalez to judge. In 1969-70-75 and 76 he was the sole judge. During the years he worked with cojudges, don Fernando was unquestionably the dominant personality in shaping the breed. In this regard he had inherited a task that was well started but far from complete. The breed and the breeders still needed direction. In terms of gait, breeders now shared a common set of criteria. But in regards to anything beyond that, very little was clearly established. The vast body of knowledge which existed was almost entirely empirical. Breeders and trainers knew what they knew from experience and experimentation. But the scientific method had not yet been employed with its gathering of data, its arranging of facts and systematization of knowledge, its studies and comparisons, and its theories and verification thereof.

Two men were principally responsible for bringing order, logic and the scientific method to the study of the Peruvian horse. One of these was a foreigner, Luis de Ascasubi from Ecuador. The other was Fernando Grana. Grana began to classify the knowledge of the breed in a technical way and was one of the important contributors to a new "national" vocabulary which helped breeders from all over Peru discuss their ideas with one another in terms that all could understand. He also focused the minds of breeders on their breed's weaknesses and helped to standardize the diverse criteria of breeders all over the country. Before don Fernando's influence began to be felt there were some people who understood the Peruvian horse but couldn't explain it. Others tried to explain the breed but didn't really understand it. One of the first who could do both in great depth was Fernando Grana. Until don Fernando's appearance on the scene, most "aficionados" in Peru flew by the seat of their pants. There is one famous anecdote that will illustrate what the state of affairs was in those days. During a social gathering of breeders at the Hacienda TamboInga, Carlos Parodi and Ernesto Carozzi began to have a disagreement about how a horse moves when "cuarteando". In a certain sense it was a strange argument. Don Carlos was among the better riders in Peru and had taught countless horses to "cuartear". "Tito" Carozzi spent little time training horses, and would have seemed to be at a tremendous disadvantage. As the evening wore on, neither would let the argument die, so convinced was each that he was right. Fueled by a few drinks, the disagreement became more and more energetic. Finally the two men wound up on all fours, each one showing his version of whether the inside hind leg steps in front of or behind the outside leg when a horse is "cuarteando". It was then, while they were both on hands and knees that the argument was finally settled, for both men could then clearly see that "Tito" was right, the inside hind leg steps across the path of and in front of the outside hind leg in this maneuver. It was a rather unexpected end to the argument. Don Carlos was bested by a man who had nothing comparable in the way of experience in riding horses while "cuarteando", and probably could not have taught a horse to do so. But "Tito" had watched horses "cuarteando", and he - better than don Carlos - knew exactly how the horse did it. Into this time and place came a man named Fernando Grana, a man who was logical above all other things and who always thought very carefully before he presented his arguments.

During a conversation many years ago, a particularly respected old time breeder was explaining to a large group of listeners, including Fernando Grana, that there were "stallion gaits" and "mare gaits," and that each sex had a correct and distinct way of moving. Shortly after wards, while discussing which parent gives a foal which of its characteristics, the same speaker explained that, "The mare gives a foal her gait." Everyone present was accepting the lesson without question, except Fernando. He saw the obvious flaw in the logic of the speaker, and he pointed it out by saying, "In that case, sir, stallions would have to give birth to stallions."

The Peruvian breed in its homeland has been basically shaped by two different races of people, the Italians and the Spanish. The majority of the breeders in the Lima area were Italians. In Lima the breeders' names were Musante, Parodi, Carozzi, Isola, Risso, etc. Without over emphasizing stereotypes, they were men of more emotional natures than the breeders in Peru's provinces who were more often of Spanish origin, with names like Elias, de la Borda, Ruesta, Aspillaga, Onrubia and Grana. The combination of the romantic, flamboyant Italians and the colder, more analytical Spaniards with their calmer, more logical, more practical natures created a very interesting system of checks and balances. Neither of the groups alone could have done what they did together. The Spaniards would not likely have given the Peruvian breed its romantic side, and the Italians would probably have neglected to do things such as Fernando Grana did for the breed.

Among the most important things that don Fernando did as a judge was to preside over the change of "eras" between the years when the horses from the north dominated the National Show to the time when the horses from the south became preeminent. Don Fernando remembers that moment well. He describes it by saying, "The moment the de la Borda horses came to Lima, they were a hit. They had so much brio that they collected themselves automatically, and they had something about them that attracted everyone's attention."

For Fernando the horse that most typified the characteristics of the de la Borda horses was Caramelo about whom he says, "That eye catching thing that Caramelo had caught everyone's attention. Then and there they decided it was indispensable and should be added to all horses in the breed."

With the coming of the southern horses, there was the same sort of controversy that goes hand in hand with the upsetting of any vested interests. The breeders from the north felt that the breed was being changed. The breeders from the south felt it was being improved. Time has proven that the breeders from the south were correct only twenty years after they screamed "foul" the important breeders in the north, without exception, have improved their horses with massive injections of southern blood. As don Fernando points out the qualities of the southern horses, such as their incomparable brio, had always been admired by breeders in Peru, but they were not seen nearly as frequently before southern sires such as Sol de Oro (V) made their contributions to the breed. In other words, the coming of the southern horses did not change the existing standard of a good Peruvian horse. Rather this event brought the entire breed closer to the existing standard of the "ideal" horse.

As he guided the breed into the 1960's and '70's, don Fernando was guided by a very sophisticated notion of what should be done. To quote him, "Function determines beauty. A bulldog and a greyhound are both beautiful, but they are different because they were bred for different purposes." The rewards for a man like don Fernando are often of a personal nature. He still remembers with satisfaction when Anibal Vasquez, Sr. came to him and said, "I owe it to you, don Fernando, that I have good horses because you gave me such hell in the show ring for so many years that I learned at last. " Anibal's words constitute a meaningful tribute from a man whose opinion is very important to a man who did a great deal for him and for the breed he loved so very much.

Another long time breeder, Fernando Peschiera, had words of praise for both of the Granas. Of don Antonio, he said "I consider him to be one of the horsemen in Peru who in his life best knew the essential characteristics or our national horse, those being to carry the rider comfortably over long, difficult journeys with elegance, smoothness and brio. He was a traditionalist and a very conservative man. He was also a confident and judge who helped form the Peruvian Paso horse. I hold him to he one of my best friends." Of don Fernando, Peschiera says, "Fernando Grana was very knowledge about our breed and had an extraordinary ability to guide us in the correction of the defects in our breed. He was always able to maintain the right balance among all considerations during his judging. He was a loyal and sincere friend."

Note: Fernando Grana also made some very significant contributions to the breed during his two terns as President of the ANCPCPP. These shall be discussed in detail in a later article in this series. For now the reader will be offered two final tidbits of information about don Fernando's many years as a judge. In his opinion the most controversial competition he ever judged was *Mantequilla vs El Cid. The most difficult was Jimena vs Alhaja.
(*) The "Pueba Funcional" has been a part of the Peruvian National Championship Show for many years. it is a requirement that all horses to be shown under saddle and in the bit travel a certain distance on a track prior to entering the classes in which they will compete. The distance to be traveled varies with the sex of the horse, with geldings being required to travel the greatest distance.

AUTHOR'S POSTSCRIPT: The preceding article was written in 1981. At that time I did not even dream that it would he published after the death of Fernando Grana. However, in rereading the article, I believe it is a fitting memorial to one of the Peruvian breed's most important men. I hope that his family and friends will agree.

Go to an Interview with Senor Fernando Grana 

This third edition has been expanded to 432 pages. Information has been added on Bloodlines, training, famous horses and famous personalities in the breed. It contains a complete list (including 1993) of Champions and Champion of Champions at the National Shows in the U.S. & Peru. A beautiful 8 1/2 x 11" collector's quality book containing many outstanding color photographs.This classic book has been unavailable ever since the second edition sold out over a decade ago! ·Perfect for gift-giving - sure to become a collector's item!
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The Peruvian Horse and His Classic Equitation

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Last Updated December 11, 2000