For thousands of years, horses have been man’s most faithful companion in everything from transport to agriculture, where they have played an essential role. We could say that horses helped to pave the road to civilization.
Their intelligence, capacity for adaptation, expressiveness, and deft movements justify the admiration that these beasts persistently provoke among human beings. They could be described as the most docile wild animal that exists, because over time they became domesticated, and as such they were brought to Cuba by the Spanish more than 500 years ago.
The work of our National Enterprise for the Protection of Flora and Fauna has been decisive in improving horse breeds. With the use of technical and human resources that will guarantee success, a specialized approach has been taken to every breed that exists in our country.
Flora and Fauna’s national equine genetic program has 40 genetics centers, eight centers for mules and five for donkeys, in addition to a laboratory for extracting and freezing semen. At the Enterprise’s ranches, 17 breeds are developed, including Arabian, Cuban Pinto, Cubano de Paso (Cuban gaited), Criollo de Trote (Cuban Trotter), Patibarcino, Quarter Horse and Royal Dutch Warmblood.
Parque Lenin, a sprawling recreational center 12 kilometers from the capital, is home to the national Riding School and the Club Ecuestre de La Habana (Havana Equestrian Club), a fully-equipped facility for showing off to visitors the abilities of the horses bred and trained there.
The center has qualified personnel, Cuba’s best riders, and a capacity for more than 115 stabled horses. It also features a comfortable rural motel, a store with equestrian-related items, and a food and beverage complex serving traditional Cuban food.
With complete security, we can say that an annual auction held here, the Remate Élite Internacional for jumping horses, is the enterprise’s emblematic event, and represents the culmination of one whole stage of work. The first (and successful) edition of this yearly auction was held in 2009.
This past Jan. 29-31, the 6th Remate Élite took place. Thirty Royal Dutch Warmbloods were auctioned off, including broken and unbroken horses. During the first two days, the 29th and 30th, customers and other participants, including visitors from all over the world, were able to observe the abilities and physical conditions of the horses to be auctioned. This sixth Remate also made it possible to demonstrate the strengths and successes of the development of equestrian sports in Cuba in recent years.
With the goal of providing a good show, the Equestrian Club was joined by well-known Cuban entities that represented our culture through products and services. A range of collateral activities was organized as well, including exhibitions and sales of equestrian-related artwork and souvenirs, music, and other traditional Cuban products.
Some 30 buyers came from Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Venezuela, Chile, Angola and Spain to participate in the auction, where observers included visiting businesspeople from Italy, Angola, China, Spain, France and Hungary. As in previous years, the income raised from this project, which also is sponsored by the Alcona distribution company and the travel agency Ecotur S.A., will be devoted to developing equine therapy and conservation projects, as well as the country’s equine gene pool.
Once again, the auction demonstrated the potential that this sector has reached in Cuba: rapid growth of the reproduction and development of purebred horses.