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Choosing a Paso Fino

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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The Paso Fino is a breed apart from all others. This breed is known for his special fine step gait, which is an inherited trait and cannot be learned. For this reason, the Paso Fino is said to be born, not made.

History & Origin

The Paso Fino is an ancient breed whose exact origins are uncertain. Some Spanish authorities feel that the horse is a descendent of the Andalusian and the extinct Spanish Jennet. What is known is that in the early 1500s, Martin de Salazar brought some horses to Puerto Rico. More horses followed and, by the mid 1500s, horse breeding centers had been established throughout the Caribbean. Over time, the Caribbean horse breeders developed a distinctive, rugged horse with a characteristic four-beat lateral gait. This special gait was found to provide an extremely smooth ride, which the horse can maintain, even on long journeys.

The Paso Fino is a horse that developed in the Caribbean. Each island has independent breeding centers and the resulting horses have subtle but distinctive differences, depending on their island of origin. The Puerto Rican Paso Fino is the most well known and has been developed as a show horse with a great deal of style.

The American Paso Fino is a little different from the Puerto Rican Paso Fino. Originally, the Paso Fino was introduced to the United States in 1950. Horses from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Peru were also imported and crossbred. Eventually, the American Paso Fino was developed.

Appearance

The Paso Fino is a naturally docile medium-sized horse with an upright and arched neck. The head is small with large eyes spaced far apart and wide nostrils. The shoulders are deep and the chest is moderately wide. The legs are delicate and straight with small hooves. The mane and tail are typically grown long and full.

Ability & Aptitudes

The most distinctive characteristic of the Paso Fino is his gait. Called a four-beat lateral gait, the hind foot touches the ground a fraction of a second before the front foot. This gait is executed in three different speeds.

  • The Paso Fino gait is a slow forward movement but with rapid footfall. This gait gives the breed his name and is usually reserved for the show ring.

  • The Paso Corto gait is similar in speed to the trot but in a more relaxed form. This is an elegant and snappy gait that is ideal for pleasure riding and trail riding.

  • The Paso Largo gait is a faster gait somewhere between a canter and hand gallop.

    The Paso Fino is a gentle and docile horse but can be quite spirited under the saddle. Each horse has a tremendous individual personality. This horse can get along with other horses but seems to thoroughly enjoy time spent with their beloved owners. This horse is best known as an excellent trail riding horse and pleasure horse.

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