What is a Paso Fino?The Paso Fino horse reflects its Spanish heritage through its lively spirit commonly known as brio. The brio is seen through the natural gait and proud carriage that demonstrates grace and elegance. This breed is extremely intelligent and eager to please and that equates to a very willing and desirable equine partner.
The Paso Fino is commonly called "America’s 500 year old new breed". The Paso Fino was virtually unknown to this country until the 1940’s when it was first imported to the U.S.
It has however, been bred in Latin America since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors. When Columbus first came to the New World there were no horses and on his second voyage he brought with him horses that were a mixture of the Andalusians and Barbs (known for their hardiness) and the now extinct Spanish Jennet (known for its comfortable saddle gait). As these horses were selectively bred with more horses brought from Spain, a breed developed that was hardy, easy to keep on the sparse vegatation and that had a unique four beat gait which was comfortable for riding all day. The Conquistadors called these horses “Los Caballos de Paso Fino”, the “horse with the fine step”.
Bred for their stamina, smooth gait and beauty, these horses served as the foundation stock for remount stations of the Conquistadors. Centuries of selective breeding by those who colonized the Caribbean and Latin America produced the Paso Fino that flourished initially in Puerto Rico and Colombia, and later, in many other Latin American countries.
Awareness of the Paso Fino as we know it today didn’t spread outside Latin America until after WWII, when American servicemen came into contact with the stunning Paso Finos from Puerto Rico in the mid 1940’s. Two decades later, many Paso Finos began to be imported from Colombia.
Selective breeding has enhanced the beauty and refinement of these horses typically displaying well proportioned conformation that conveys strength and power without extreme muscling.
The Paso Fino gait is totally natural and normally exhibited from birth. The gait of the Paso Fino is a natural evenly spaced four beat gait. The footfall is the same pattern as the walk: left rear, left fore, right rear, right fore. The sound of the footfall should be absolutely even in cadence and impact. The Paso Fino propels itself primarily from the hind legs while the motion is absorbed in its back and loins. That is why there is no bounce when riding as there would be at the trot and jog of other breeds.
An important aspect of this breed is the fact that the gait is exhibited from birth and when the horse is put under saddle they are not made to gait with mechanical devices, soreing or any kind of special shoes. The trainer works with the horse to refine and enhance the already natural gait.
The Paso Fino Gait is preformed at three forward speeds and with varying degrees of collection and motion.
The PASO CORTO, forward speed is moderate, with full to moderate collection. Steps are ground covering but unhurried, executed with medium extension and stride. It covers ground similar to the trot and is the average trail gait.
The PASO LARGO is the fastest speed of the gait, executed with a longer extension and stride, and moderate to minimal collection. The speed of each horse’s Largo varies with the individual horse and range of motion.
The CLASSIC FINO is the most highly collected gait, with very rapid footfall, and is the slowest forward motion gait. This modality of gait cannot be performed by every Paso Fino and is mainly used for show purposes.
The Paso Fino is capable of executing other gaits that are natural to horses. The Paso Fino can walk, trot, canter and gallop like any other horse but most riders find that the horse’s natural way of going is much more fun and comfortable.
Now the Paso Fino is being widely recognized for its versatility in many varied disciplines. There has been lots of success in the competitive and endurance riding events where top placements have been achieved. The Paso Fino is also being used and gaining popularity on cattle ranches as working cow horses. Participation is growing at the PFHA/AHSA sponsored shows, in Western Pleasure, Trail, Driving and Versatility classes.
The Paso Fino is truly an admirable equine partner and the smoothest riding horse anyone will experience.