The Paso Fino … A Natural Choice
The Paso Fino Horse – a distinctive breed that has its own style accompanied by classic beauty. Today, many people in America think of the Paso Fino horse as one of the most exciting and pleasurable breeds. The Paso Fino horse is characterized by its distinguished four-beat natural gait, graceful carriage, wonderfully smooth ride, and its beautiful tail and flowing mane.
The Paso Fino is a horse for all seasons, a horse for all climates, and a horse for many diverse purposes. From the Florida Keys to Alaska – from southern California to eastern Canada, the Paso Fino horse demonstrates it’s remarkable versatility – not just in the show ring, but on competitive trail and endurance rides, dressage work, at barrel racing and gymkhana events, and back at the ranch working cattle. And, most important to hundreds of owners, the Paso Fino horse is unsurpassed as a pleasure horse and equine companion.
With its remarkable intelligence and willing, responsive disposition, the Paso Fino can be the first horse for a child – or the last horse for one’s autumn years. And he may be the one horse that can bring the pleasure of horseback riding to the handicapped or disabled like on the Stonehaven Ranch for mini horses.
This unique horse has been called “America’s 500-year-old new Breed,” since it was unknown in the United States until the late 1940’s, but has been bred in Latin America since the days of the Conquistadors.
The Paso Fino horse is an athlete, an investment, and a family treasure. And he does it all with a natural gait that provides unparallel comfort for the rider, a style that is unique to the breed, and unsurpassed versatility for the horse lover. See also this article about the Tennuvian Horse.
The Beginning – More than 8000 years ago, the Ice Age swept across America and changed the land. Many forms of life, including the horse, vanished or were driven to other parts of the world. So thousands of years later, when Columbus discovered the New World he found a land without horses!
Birth of a Breed – The following year when Columbus returned to the new land, he brought with him a few hardy horses and settled them in Santo Domingo. These horses were a mixture of Barb and Andalusian (both noted for their hardiness and stamina) and the Spanish Jennet, which was known for its extremely comfortable saddle gait.
Later explorers brought more horses and these, together with the original stock, were blended to produce a horse that was uniquely suited to the demands of the new land. These hardy horses could travel vast distances without tiring and were easy keepers that maintained their stamina on the available vegetation. But most importantly, these horses possessed and transmitted to their offspring a natural four beat gait that provided an extremely comfortable ride (a desirable trait to the explorers who spent numerous hours in the saddle!)
Used as the foundation stock for remount stations of the Conquistadors, these horses came to be known as Los Caballos de Paso Fino, “the horse with the fine walk.”
Characteristics of the Breed – American Paso Fino Horses reflect their Spanish heritage that’s shown in their grace, proud carriage, and elegance. They were born with a natural skill to carry out their specific Paso Fino gait and additionally, a highly selective breeding program has resulted in more basic skills and qualities that characterize the Paso Fino horses of today.
Paso Fino horses are “people-oriented” and enjoy their human companions and strive to please them. They are spirited and willing yet easily managed and gentle at hand. Paso Finos’ hooves are very durable and they seldom shod unless they are ridden on a rocky surface. Their enormous lung capacity provides endurance and they are athletic, naturally quick, and surefooted. These horses come in different sizes but they average around 14 hands and you can find them in many colors and without or with white markings.
Paso Fino horses have the ability to execute all-natural equine gaits and can be taught to perform them on cue. But, because the Paso Fino gait is so comfortable and unique, most riders require the Paso Fino to move only in its own special gait under saddle. If you want to read about the difference between a Paso Fino and a Peruvian Horse, check out this article.
The American Paso Fino is born with a gait unique to the breed. As a natural gait, it is not showing the exaggerated or catapulting leg action that characterizes gaits that are man-made. A Paso Fino’s gait is rather straight, rhythmic and smooth, balanced in its flexion, and synchronous from front to rear, which results in unequaled smoothness and comfort for the rider. American Paso Finos are agile, supple, and graceful equine athletes that use all their four legs in harmony and with precision.
The Gait – The gait of a Paso Fino horse is a 4-beat evenly spaced lateral gait where the horse’s feet contact the ground in an independent way at very precise intervals that creates an unbroken rapid rhythm. The four beats of the hoof are perfectly even both in impact and cadence.
Classic Fino – Executed fully collected, there is a very slow forward speed with a very rapid footfall whereas while the extension and the steps are exceedingly short.
Paso Corto – he forward speed of the steps is rather moderate, like unhurried but ground-covering. This is executed with stride and medium extension while the collection requirements are varying by class.
Paso Largo – This is the fastest speed. The Paso largo is characterized by longer stride and extension and varied collection degrees. The forward speed is varying depending on each individual horse as all horses should attain their top speed in line with their own cadence and natural stride.
In the United States, the emphasis has been placed on naturalness and any evidence of abusive training methods results in disqualification in the show ring. This is what the owners should pay attention to. Whether executing the highly collected classic Fino or the fully extended Paso Largo, the Paso Fino’s performance is a pleasure for both rider and observer. We invite you to experience the pleasure yourself…for when it comes to elegance, comfort, and performance, the Paso Fino Horse is a natural choice.