The Paso Fino horse has a proud past and is one of the oldest
native breeds in the Western Hemisphere. During the 500 years
that they have been selectively bred in the Western Hemisphere,
the Paso Fino has participated in the conquest of the Americas,
and then in the exploration and development of both North
and South American continents. Today they are show horses,
pleasure trail horses, and have a host of versatile uses in
all equine disciplines. But it is the lateral four beat gait
that distinguishes the Paso Fino. This exceptionally smooth
motion makes it an excellent choice for people with spinal
injuries or arthritis, as well as for therapeutic riding programs
for the handicapped.
The origins of the Paso Fino began in Spain where a chance
mix of breeds created offspring that would one day become
one of the world’s finest riding horses. When the Moors occupied
the Spanish countryside they brought with them the Berber
horse, also known as the Barb. Interbreeding with native Spanish
stock produced the delicately gaited Spanish Jennet (which
is now extinct, but being re created). These were subsequently
bred with the Andalusian. The resulting offspring had the
hardiness of the Barb; the natural pride and presence of the
Andalusian; and the extremely comfortable saddle gait of the
In 1492, Columbus discovered that the New World had no horses,
so with his second voyage, he brought the first horses to
Santo Domingo, a select group of mares and stallions from
Andalusia and Cordela of the above mixed bloodlines. The result
of the blending of these horses and the isolation of them
to such a small area assured that these bloodlines would eventually
evolve into the Paso Fino horse.
The offspring of these isolated horses were dispersed through
the various lands that the conquistadores invaded. Centuries
of selective breeding by colonists in Latin America and the
Caribbean produced variations of the Caballo de Criollo, (native
horse). Among them was the small, extremely muscular, very
refined Paso Fino that flourished initially in Puerto Rico
and Colombia, and later, in many other Latin American countries
(primarily Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Venezuela)
that were suitable for ranch work throughout Central and South
America. But most treasured was the incredibly smooth gait
of the Jennet which was quickly recognized as a desirable
trait and actively perpetuated. This gait became the genetic
stamp of the Paso Fino.
Awareness of the Paso Fino didn’t spread outside Latin America
until after WWII. It was after American servicemen came into
contact with the stunning horse while stationed in Puerto
Rico that Americans began importing them in the mid 1940s.
In the 1960’s, Paso Finos started to be imported from Colombia.
But which country produces the true Paso Fino? There are purists
who advocate for one or the other country, but the American
Paso Fino is often a blend of the best of the Puerto Rican
and Colombian bloodlines.
The Paso Fino ranges in size from 13.0 hands to 15.2 hands.
Weight ranges from 700 to 1100 lbs but full size may not be
attained until the fifth year. Every equine color, from solid
to pinto, can be found in the Paso Fino, with or without white
The head should be refined and in good proportion to the
body, neither extremely small nor large with a preferred straight
profile. Eyes are large, well spaced, expressive and alert.
Ears are short, set close, and curved inward at the tips.
The impression should be of an intelligent face. The neck
should be gracefully arched, medium in length and set on at
an angle to allow high carriage. Mane, tail and forelock should
be as long, full and luxurious as possible and no artificial
additions or surgical alterations are allowed. The tail is
carried gracefully when horse is in motion. Standing slightly
under in the rear is a typical pose.
One cannot talk about a Paso Fino without focusing on their
extremely smooth gait, even their name, Paso Fino, means Fine
Step . The basic gaits of the Paso Fino in order of speed
are the paso fino, paso corto, and paso largo and they are
capable of executing other gaits that are natural to horses,
including a relaxed walk and lope or canter. These are not
trained gaits, but are natural to the horse and are displayed
at birth. Newborn foals struggle to their feet and take their
first faltering steps in the gait. Owners pride themselves
in the naturalness of their horses since artificial training
aids are not necessary to bring out this genetically instinctual
The Paso Fino gait is performed at three forward speeds with
varying degrees of collection. At all speeds of the gait,
the rider should appear motionless in the saddle, and there
should be no perceptible up and down motion of the horse’s
croup. Demonstrations show the rider holding a full glass
of water, not spilling a drop, and barely moving the water
in the glass at all.
The Classic Fino, also known as the Fino Fino, Paso, or Paso
Fino gait, exhibits full collection with a very slow forward
speed. It is an evenly spaced four beat lateral gait with
each foot contacting the ground independently in a regular
sequence at precise intervals creating a rapid, unbroken and
extremely regular 1 2 3 4 rhythm. Executed perfectly, the
four hoof beats are absolutely even in both cadence and impact,
resulting in unequaled smoothness and comfort for the rider.
The footfall is extremely rapid with the steps and extension
exceedingly short. Although the horse steps extremely rapidly,
it takes only small strides; so the speed is somewhere between
a walk and a canter. This gait is usually only used in show
because it strains the horse, although they can sustain the
Paso for an extended period of time without resting. It is
quite a remarkable sight since the horse appears to be dancing.
The Paso Corto has a forward speed that is moderate with
full to moderate collection. The footfalls are ground covering
but unhurried and are executed with medium extension and stride.
It is a comfortable medium speed gait similar to the trot
in speed. The corto is the average trail gait and a well conditioned
Paso Fino can travel at the corto for hours. Since it is very
energy efficient, it is ideal for long days of riding.
The Paso Largo is the fastest speed of the gait, almost like
a canter, and is an even more extended version of the same
footfall. It is executed with a longer extension and stride
with moderate to minimal collection. The forward speed varies
with the individual horse since their top speed should be
in harmony with its own natural stride and cadence. A horse
at the largo can cover ground at a breathtaking speed, extending
its legs much more to cover more ground, while still providing
a secure and balanced seat for the rider.
Some Pasos develop the Trocha, which is a diagonal variant
on the Paso. This is often discouraged except in parts of
Colombia. Although it is a natural gait, it is not as desirable
as the Paso. Some horses develop this diagonal version when
they are stressed or tired, so it can be a signal that a horse
is overworked or simply picking up bad habits.
The Paso Fino has a lively yet controlled spirit and is a
gentle horse that is intelligent, sensible and tractable.
It is an extremely willing horse that truly seems to enjoy
human companionship and strives to please with its very responsive
attitude when under tack. They are often trained in both English
and Western style and many owners choose stylish tack from
one of the countries of the horse’s origin. They are lightly
shod or go unshod when away from rocky or paved surfaces.
In 1972, the Paso Fino Horse Association (PFHA) was founded.
It is a member governed, not for profit organization dedicated
to promoting, protecting and improving the breed. It is unclear
from their website if they are a breed registering body as
there is no reference to the official or historic studbook
or any other registration information that you would expect
from a registry. Its 8,500 members are represented by 24 regional
groups in the United States, Canada, Europe and South America
who all sponsor shows and other events, but do not register
Another website called Paso Registry (PFR) likewise is not
THE registry as one blogger has written, but it does have
a pedigree lookup for the foundation stallions. A link on
their site to register your horse leads nowhere, and there
is no registration information that one would expect on a
registry site. A glance at the pedigrees listed shows that
Paso Fino names are usually Spanish or Spanish flavored but
whether this is an official registration requirement (as in
some breeds), or just traditional preference is unclear when
registration rules are unavailable.
The Paso Fino horse is versatile, able to adapt to a variety
of climates and purposes and demonstrates its remarkable versatility
not just in the show ring, but on competitive trail and endurance
rides, in dressage, rodeo, and working cattle. They continue
to grow in popularity, as one by one, converts are won over
through the experience of the ride.
Author Resource:-> Crystal writes for http://www.HorseClicks.com,
classifieds of Paso Finos for sale