The Paso Fino - the mount of the Spanish Conquistadors - has proud ties to a glorious past and the prospect of an even greater future, as this elegant smooth-gaited breed captures the hearts of horse lovers everywhere. The Paso Fino is the oldest true native breed of horse in the Western Hemisphere.
It was the Moors invasion of Spain that would bring together a wealth of equine genetic material. The Spanish stock contributed to many of the modern day American breeds, the Mustangs, the Quarter Horses, and Appaloosas just to name a few. While the United States grew and grew and more and more horse were crossed, the blood was soon diluted except for extreme cases of isolation or careful attention to breeding practices.
Nearly 500 years ago, on his second voyage from Spain, Columbus brought a select group of mares and stallions from the provinces of Andalusia and Cordela, and settled them at Santa Domingo. These horses were a mixture of Barb, Andalusian and Spanish Jennet. The Spanish Jennet not only possessed an extremely comfortable saddle gait, but also was able to pass the gait on to its offspring. The result of the blending of the blending of these horses was to become known as the Paso Fino breed - Los Caballos de Paso Fino (the horse with the fine step). They became the foundation stock for remount stations of the Conquistadors.
The Paso Fino became a prize possession of Puerto Rico and their National Horse. Columbia, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and other Latin Countries bred the Paso Fino in semi isolation. . As Spanish settlers came to the New World, they brought more Spanish horses. It wasn't until World War II and a good fifty years after the peak of the last great world horse culture had ended that the American soldiers stationed in those countries rediscovered the Paso Fino. Soon they were being imported by an adventurous select few. It was not long before the advantages of the breed became apparent.
During the nearly 500 years that Paso horses have been selectively bred and perfected in the Western Hemisphere, they have been called upon to perform a diverse role, first in the conquest of and then in the exploration and development of the Americas. Today they are being used in all equine disciplines and are unequaled when it comes to the luxurious ride that they produce. The Paso Fino is a horse for all seasons, a horse for all climates, and a horse for diverse purposes. From the Florida Keys to the Pacific Northwest, and from southern California to New England, Eastern Canada, Puerto Rico and Columbia, the Paso Fino demonstrated its remarkable versatility not just in the show ring, but on competitive trail and endurance rides, in dressage work, rodeo, and back at the ranch-working cattle. And he does it all with a gait that provides unparalleled comfort for the rider. The energy-efficient Paso Fino, with its unexcelled versatility, and unique comfort for the rider, opens a New World for horse lovers.
The Paso Fino is a naturally stylish horse. Paso Fino's are a flashy, all-around, intelligent mount with the bonus of continuous comfort for the rider. Although not as large as some breeds, they can carry a large rider comfortably for an extended period of time. Their legs and feet are exceptionally tough and many Paso Fino horses need no shoeing. There is no predominant color as all equine colors may be found. While the Paso Fino horse’s great spirit is evident under saddle, his disposition allows even beginners to ride with ease.
CHARACTERISTIC OF THE BREED
General Impression The Paso Fino is born with a gait unique to the breed, a light horse of great grace and style and with definite, but controlled, spirit. The gait, being totally natural, does not exhibit the catapulting or exaggerated leg action of man made gaits: rather the movements are smooth, rhythmic, purposeful, straight, balanced in flexion and synchronous front to rear, resulting in unequalled comfort and smoothness for the rider.
The head should be refined and in good proportion to the body of the horse, neither extremely small nor large with the preferred profile being straight. Eyes are large and well spaced, very expressive and alert, and should not show excessive white around the edges. Ears are comparatively short, set close, and curved inward at the tips. The lips should be firm and the nostrils large and dilatable. Jaws are defined but not extreme. The impression should be of a well-shaped, alert, and intelligent face.
Gracefully arched, medium in length and set on at an angle to allow high carriage, breaking at the poll. Throat latch should be refined and well defined.
Shoulders are sloping into the withers with great depth through the heart. Chest is moderate in width. Withers are defined but not pronounced and slope smoothly into the back.
Moderate in length with a well-sprung rib cage. Top line should be proportionately shorter than the underline. The back should be strong and muscled. The midsection should join the forehand and the hindquarters so as to give the horse a pleasing, proportioned appearance.
Croup is slightly sloping with rounded hips, broad loins, and strong hocks. Tail is carried gracefully when horse is in motion.
Straight with refined bones and strong, well-defined tendons. Broad, long forearms with shorter cannons. Thigh and gaskins are strong and muscled, but not exaggerated. Standing slightly under in the rear is typical. Pasterns are sloping and medium in length. Bones are straight, sound and flat, and joints are strong and well defined. Hooves are well rounded, proportionate in size, and do not show excessive heel.
MANE, TAIL and FORELOCK:
As long, full and luxurious as nature can provide. No artificial additions or alterations are allowed. A bridle path not exceeding 4" is acceptable.
13 to 15.2 hands with 13.3 to 14.2 being the most typical. Weight from 700 to 1100 lbs. Full size may not be attained until the fifth year. The Paso Fino horse is just the right size for easy mounting and dismounting. Its small stature however doesn’t mean that it cannot carry its rider for long distances. It is all in conditioning, a horse should be able to carry a third of its weight comfortably.
Every equine color can be found, with or without white markings. Disposition: An extremely willing horse that truly seems to enjoy human companionship and strives to please. Spirited and responsive under tack, sensible and gentle at hand.
The Paso gait is essentially a broken pace, a lateral, not diagonal gait. The sequence of the hooves are: right rear, right fore, left rear, left fore; the hind foot touching the ground a fraction of a second before the front foot. When performed on a hard surface, a definite 1,2,3,4 beat can be heard. This serves to eliminate the jarring effect of a true pace and causes the rider practically no up and down movement. The motion of the horse is absorbed in the back and loins giving the rider comfort. The gait is natural. It is not uncommon for a newborn foal to be gaiting shortly after birth. The gait may be refined through natural training methods, and no artificial training equipment is allowed.
THE 3 FORMS ARE:
PASO FINO- Sometimes called "Fino - Fino" the classic show ring gait. It demonstrates rapid, steady, unbroken rhythm of the hooves with every slow forward speed. Performed with the horse balanced and collected. Only a small percentage of Pasos perform at this level, Capuchino, a famous stallion is reported to have 126 beats per minute and a 4 inch extension. When going down the sounding board it was like rolling thunder, enough to give anyone goosebumps.
PASO CORTO- A more relaxed form of the gait that is commonly referred to as the natural Paso gait. Paso Corto is the ideal trail and pleasure gait, executed with only medium collection and light contact on the bit. Most Paso Fino horses prefer this gait to walking.
PASO LARGO- The speed form of the gait. The same 1,2,3,4 rhythm must be maintained and the rider should appear motionless in the saddle, as he should be at all speeds of the gait. Be ready to move out because some Paso Fino horses have been clocked going as fast as 32 mph.