To some he was a hero, other a bringer of doom. To us horselovers we are Thankful! This man was Christopher Columbus. When he first landed the Americas were devoid of horses. Those that had orignially inhabited the region had all either migrated elsewhere or met with extinction. Columbus took care of this on his second journey by bringing with him horses of Spanish breeding; specifically Barb, Andalusian and the now-extint Spanish Jennet bloodlines. He delivered this precious cargo on Santo Domingo, now the Dominican Republic, and the revolution began. The offspring of these horses would beget dynamic clans of horses unique to the Americas. One of these marvelous breeds was te Paso Fino.
The Spanish have long viewed horses as an art form. As some of the New World's most active settlers, they brought these sentiments with them across the ocean along with the horses they would need to perpetuate Spanish bloodlines in their new homes. Those first horses were soon joined by others of their kind, their genes then carefully melded together in an equine melting pot. On farms in the Caribean and certain regions of South America(Columbia), breeders orchestrated the birth of the Paso Fino.
The modern Paso Fino, whose name means "fine gait", can thank all three of its founding breeds for its special gifts. But most experts believe that the Spanish Jennet is responsible for its prized gait that has earned it a reputation as oe of the world's most comfortable riding horses. While the Barb was blessed with endurance and strength and the ANdalusian with beauty and grace, the Jennet moved with a gait unique to the horse world, as well as the ability to pass that gait on to its offspring.
The Paso Fino is a small horse ever eager to boast its Spanish heritage. Standing between 13 and 15.2 hands high, usually within the 13.3 - 14.2 hand range, its size can be deceiving. An easy keeper with a hardy constitution, this is a strong, elegant, rugged animal that can carry a rider almost endlessly in incredibly comfortable fashion.
The Paso Fino is harmony in motion. It's broken four-beat gait is a natural gift, inherited to varying degrees in the horses tha bear the breed's name. So natural is the gait that newborn foals will often begin to move in their birthright fashion shortly after foaling. This gait, performed at three distinct speeds, produces a constant cadence, in which there is little vertical movement in the horse's croup or shoulder, creating a motionless ride for the rider.
Long valued as a mount for disabled riders, the well-trained Paso Fino produces a ocmfortable ride, lacking the jolts and bumps so often associated with horseback riding. The horse can go on like this for hours, be it on past plantations and warriors to todays trail and pleasure riders as well as excelling in the show ring.
The secret to the gait lies within the horse's structure. The Paso Fino is tremendously athletic, although an overly muscled conformation is something breeders work to prevent. Its considerable strength is perhaps its best-kept secret, hidden beneath an elegant, refined exterior. Found in any equine color, sometimes with white markings, the Paso Fino moves on strong yet refined legs with short cannons, that are further graced by tough, hard, often unshod, feet.
The Paso Fino's substantial intelligence shines in its large, dark expressive eyes, its small, usually inwardly tipped ears further lending the horse an alert,inquisitive expression. It hold its refined head proudly, highlighted by a high arched neck and a thick, full mane left long and flowing to match its flowing tail. From head to tail, this horse proudly exhibits the same attributes that won it such acclaim among the Americas' earliest European settlers. Apparently that devotion is something that has carried on into present time as well.
A lot of people search for a smooth riding horse. In a Paso Fino you will find just that: a smooth riding horse. I call them "the horse with wings". But in addition to that you get so much more...
Althought the Paso Fino breed is approximately 500 years old, its modern American history began only 50 years ago when Americans fell in love with the horse while stationed in Puerto Rico during World War II. They brought these equine souvenirs back to the US with them at the end of the war, and in 1973 made their passion official by establishing the PFHA to register the horse, protect the breed's heritage and promote its special gifts.
What makes the horse so unique is its evenly spaced four - beat gait that makes a ride of unparralleled comfort for the rider. IF you have a Paso Fino that's not gaited, you don't have a Paso Fino.
Shown either barefoot or in regular equally weighted plate shoes the Paso Fino's three gaits are identical in form but differ in sppe in collection. Collection decreases as speed increases.
The Classic Fino is the classic show ring gait that not all Paso's can accomplish. At the speed of a slow walk, it is a picture of controlled strength and energy involving a rapid footfall with little forward motion performed by a tightly collected equine athlete. The Paso Corto is the gait most Paso's would choose if given the choice. At the speed of a colected trot, this is the ideal gait for trail and pleasure. The most rapid gait is the Paso Largo, performed with less collection and at the speed of a graceful canter.
Temperment, too, is an elementethat captivates those who meet this fine horse. Marked by intelligence and a special brand of spirit the Spaniards called brio, it exhibits both in its perfornmce as a consmmate saddle horse.
These little horses are touted to be very spirited under saddle but gentle in hand. There very intelligent, quick and forward moving.
~~The Magic of Brio~~
In the Paso Fino we have a smallish equine package full of spirit and pride in its heritage. They'll carry there heads high and proud, giving you there whole heart, and they'll go all day that way. They've got energy to spare.
Don't be put off by this spirit though. Even beginners and children can ride a Paso Fino and are often anxious to do so once spotting one performing a Paso gait along a trail or in a ring. The rider must simply understand that this is a wise and intelligent horse that requires respect from it's rider.
They're sensual horses. You need your body to talk to them as they are very sensitive to cues and body language. They are not difficult horses to ride.
They aim to please their rider, and are very affectonate.