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Some Information on Paso Finos

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.

Columbus discovered a horseless America. Although the ancestors of the present-day horse evolved and developed in North America and spread to other parts of the world, horses vanished from the New World during the Ice Age, between 8,000 and 12,000 years ago.

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 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. As Spanish settlers came to the New World, they brought more Spanish horses. 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.

The Paso Fino's gait is a smooth, four beat, lateral gait, reminiscent of an animated, accelerated walk. The horse seldom nods it's head as other gaited breeds do, because their compact body absorbs much of the torque, giving the rider a bounce-free, comfortable ride at variant speeds.

The paso corto is similar in speed to a slow gait, and is the gait of choice for most trail riders.
The paso largo can be compared to the fast rack only in speed, also. The gait cam be performed at speeds up to 35mph.

The paso fino is the most difficult to explain gait. The footfall pattern is the same as the corto or largo. The footfalls are very fast. BUT there is little forward motion at all. The horse SOUNDS like it's feet are going the speed of the largo (and they are), but with such limited forward movement (comparable perhaps to the passage), the horse is sometimes gaiting almost in place. You just have to see it to believe it.

General Impression:  The Paso Fino is born with a gait unique to the breed, and his attitude seems to transmit to the observer that this horse knows his gait is a very special gift that must be executed with style and pride! 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.

Head: 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.

Neck:  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.

Forehand:  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.

Midsection:  Moderate in length with a well-sprung rib cage. Topline 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.

Hindquarters:  Croup is slightly sloping with rounded hips, broad loins, and strong hocks. Tail is carried gracefully when horse is in motion.


Legs:   Straight with refined bones and strong, well defined tendons. Broad, long fore-arms 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.

Size: 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.

Color: 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 Fino's temperament is best described as having 'brio'.

Brio is often defined as "Controlled spirit", but it is actually just a Spanish term for what might otherwise be put as "Life Force". This Brio separates docile rent-a-horses from shimmering, spectacular show ring champions. Simbolo de Besilu, multiple national and World champion Fino stallion, HAS brio. Brio is not only for the show ring.  It can be seen on frosty mornings, when that horse is just too frisky to come up for feed just yet, and instead kicks up his heels a moment longer. Brio is when your jumper throws in an extra playful buck after a clear round. Brio is in the eyes, the flared nostrils, the pricked ears, the proud gait. In the Heart.

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, gymkhana, and back at the ranch working cattle.  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. A good Paso Fino has a refined head, a long, proudly-carried neck, and overall good saddle conformation. Mane, tail and forelock are kept as long, full and luxurious as nature can provide. Although not as large as some breeds, he can carry a large rider comfortably for an extended period of time. His legs and feet are exceptionally tough and many Paso Fino's need no shoeing. There is no predominant color as all equine colors may be found.

Paso Finos are a flashy, all-around, intelligent mount with the bonus of continuous comfort for the rider.  While the Paso Fino's great spirit is evident under saddle, his disposition allows even beginners to ride with ease.

Take the opportunity to get to know this unique and adaptable breed better.
Perhaps you'll discover that the Paso Fino would be "a natural" in you barn!
Last Updated: April 05, 2003
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