History of the Paso Fino
The Paso Fino’s journey to the Americas began more than 500 years ago with the importation of Andalusians, Spanish Barbs from North Africa, and smooth-gaited Spanish Jennets (now extinct) to the “New World” by Spanish Conquistadors. Bred for their stamina, smooth gait, and beauty, “Los Caballos de Paso Fino” – the horses with the fine walk – 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 variations of the “Caballo de Criollo,” among them the Paso Fino that flourished initially in Puerto Rico and Colombia, and later, in many other Latin American countries (primarily Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Venezuela).
Descendants of the Conquistadors’ horses are believed to have spread into North America after the Spanish soldiers forayed for a brief time into this territory. The modern-day mustang has traces of his Spanish forbears. The Nez Perce Indian tribe, renowned for their expert horsemanship and sophisticated knowledge of breeding spotted horses, may have mixed some Spanish stock into their famous Appaloosas, whose name is derived from the Palouse River region of the Nez Perce’s tribal homeland in Oregon.
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 stun¬ning Paso Fino horse while stationed in Puerto Rico. Americans began importing Paso Finos from Puerto Rico in the mid-1940s. Two decades later, many Paso Fino horses began to be imported from Colombia. For a while, there was some contention as to which country produced the “true” Paso Fino. Though there are still some self-professed “purists” who advocate for one or the other country, the American Paso Fino - true to our “melting pot” tradition - is often a blend of the best of Puerto Rican and Colombian bloodlines.
Adorned with the title “Smoothest Riding Horse in the World,” Paso Fino horses are increasingly gaining the attention of American horse lovers. Full of energy, drive, stamina, yet gentle on the ground, the Paso Fino may very well be America’s best kept secret. Bred for good physical balance, the Paso Fino is quick, sure-footed, and very athletic. The Paso Fino movement is completely unique to the breed and although it may be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before—don’t write this breed off until you have ridden one.
Smooth and Versatile
One of the most unique attributes of the Paso Fino breed is its natural gait. Horses can be trained to perform different gaits for show and competition, but the fact that these sought-after gaits are performed naturally and perfectly by the Paso Fino sets it apart. Many people who have a hard time mounting or riding a horse due to age, and those who have had back injuries, knee injuries, or have been told, “You won’t be able to ride again,” find themselves able to ride a Paso Fino when no other horse will do. It’s even been said that the ride is as good as going to the chiropractor!
Appearance and Conformation
The Paso Fino has a refined head with a straight profile in good proportion and alert, intelligent eyes that do not show excessive white. The neck is strong and supportive with a high carriage that smoothly slopes into the back. Legs are strong and well-defined with shorter cannons and longer forearms. The Paso Fino should be well-proportioned, conveying strength and power without extreme muscling. Hooves are durable and rarely shod. They can be registered in any equine color, with or without white markings. These horses are often defined by their long, flowing mane and tail, and Paso Fino breeders take great care to keep them in naturally perfect condition.
Credits : Paso Fino Horse Association