By Henry Curry, Jr., MD

Printed in the Peruvian Horse Review, Volume 2, Number 2, Summer 1975

On many occasions during the past four years I have enjoyed listening to Verne Albright's comments on the important Peruvian Paso Horses.  His enthusiasm is always great when he likes a horse but it seems to have a special additive when discussing Caramelo, his offspring and particularly Laurel, Caramelo's most famous son.  Verne describes Laurel's tremendous stamina, speed, sureness of foot, beauty and energy in terms that are orders of magnitude above most Peruvian Pasos.  Several years ago I had no inkling that the opportunity would arise for me to personally confirm and test these qualities.  Upon Laurel's arrival in California he resided at our stable for a year while Mike Pardue was developing the facilities for his ranch in Hidden Valley, California.  During this time my wife and I handled Laurel daily and rode him frequently under a variety of conditions and terrain.  We can only conclude that Verne did not exaggerate his praise of this truly special horse.

Like most beings of merit, Laurel is complicated and cannot easily be captured by description.  He has a distinctive aloofness and bearing that defies anyone to approach him with a common attitude.  Terms such as "regal" or "royal" are so redundantly applied that they lose effect, but this is precisely the aura he conveys.  Laurel never appears humble, even when standing relaxed, and when he is untied, one approaches with respect or not at all.  But in spite of this tremendous energy and arrogance he always displays a discerning willingness to cooperate with a situation that he is allowed to assess.  The first time I came to a difficult place on the trail with Laurel I approached with trepidation.  The short steep descent into a narrow gulley with an immediate sharp ascent on the opposite side is intimidating.  It is a place where many horses repeatedly balk and some panic after beginning the descent. Laurel paused at the edge, gazed in the chasm for several seconds, snorted twice and within a few seconds we had traversed the precipice without a misstep.  This illustrated what I have since experienced with him many times; he will respond to any sensible demand appropriately and safely if allowed a few seconds to examine the circumstances and make a decision.

Of all Laurel's qualities though, the single most impressive is his incredible reservoir of energy.  And it is truly a reservoir of vast capacity.  The woods are full of horses that can flash in the show ring for thirty minutes, but how many can maintain a sizzling performance for hours on end?  One can ride Laurel for twenty miles on hilly terrain and have the feeling that he is merely beginning to warm up.  It was his energy that became the critical factor in defeating Mayoral in the contest for Champion of Champions Stallion in 1969, and in 1971 Laurel's stamina and soundness were flaunted to the delight of the Peruvian aficionados.  He entered the show ring in Lima after having been ridden directly from his home in Ica, a distance of 180 miles!  His arrival was sensational, not just because he carried a rider across the desert, but that he accomplished this feat and still entered the arena with style and brio!  If it is proved that Laurel can transmit these qualities he will be a legend, as was his sire.  There are already indications that he may reach the pinnacle.  One of the finest stallions in the United States is a son of Laurel, Rey de la Solana.  He came to this country in utero, and now at the age of four years continues to fulfill the early promise he showed as a foal.  His victories in the ring include national Junior Champion Colt and Pacific Coast Concurso champion colt.  I understand from his trainer that he is showing exceptional stamina and soundness.

Laurel's first offspring, conceived in North America, was foaled in May of this year and is a beautiful filly with the "Caramelo look".  Hopefully this is a harbinger of an important career at stud in North America.

Laurel's history in the Concurso Nacional (National Show), Lima, Peru, is as follows:

  • 1967 First Place, Potrillos de 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 sin ensillar
    (colts 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years, halter class)
  • 1968 First Place, Potrillos de 2 1/2 hasta 4 anos de bozal
    (colts 2 1/2 to 4 years, ridden in bozal)
  • 1969 First Place, Potros de 4 - 7 anos de silla y freno
    (stallions 4 - 7 years, ridden in the bit)
    Campeon de ano Machos (Champion Stallion)
    Campeon de Campeones Macho (Champion of Champions Stallion)


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