The Paso Fino is a beautiful and spirited horse breed that is gaining in popularity. Originally bred for long hours in the saddle, Paso Finos are now being used for a variety of activities including pleasure riding, endurance riding, western events such as trail and versatility, team penning, and many others. They are graceful and agile in movement, and are a pleasure to watch as well as ride.
The Paso Fino horse was first developed in the country of Puerto Rico. During the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadores brought their horses to the Americas to use in the exploration of the lands. Martin de Salazar arrived in Puerto Rico in the year 1509 bringing with him the first horses to inhabit the island.
More horses arrived two years later in 1511, including eight stallions. Horses continued to be shipped in over the next decade and in the 1550’s, the selective breeding that developed the Paso Fino began. The bloodlines can be traced back to the Spanish Jennet (now extinct), the Andalusian and the Barb.
Paso Finos were relatively unknown outside of Latin America until after World War II. The current trend started in the 1940’s when Americans who were stationed in Puerto Rico started shipping the horses to the United States. Today, the Paso Fino breed is quite popular.
The horses were selected for their fine gaits and their stamina. In those days, plantation owners and travelers had to spend long days in the saddle in order to get anywhere, so the more comfortable the horse, the better the riders fared. Thus the gaits of the Paso Fino were born.
This breed has three gaits, the paso fino, the paso corto, and the paso logo. The paso fino is a slower pace where the feet move up and down quickly with lots of action. It is performed
at full collection and it is the most common gait used in the show ring. The paso corto is like the trot, and is a very comfortable gait. It is used for traveling long distances. It is moderate in speed and is performed at full to moderate collection. The paso logo is like the canter, though a bit faster in speed. It is performed at moderate to minimal collection. Paso finos are also capable of traveling in the normal gaits of walk, trot and canter as well.
The Paso Fino has great action in its front legs and is propelled into motion by powerful hind legs. The rear quarters are kept low, which is the cause of the comfortable movement of the horse. This movement can be maintained for such long periods of time because all of the
concussion is absorbed through the horses back and hindquarters.
Appearance and Standard
A summary of the standard of the Paso Fino Horse, described by the Paso Fino Horse Association, is described as:
Overall– the horse is graceful, agile and supple
Head– refined and in good proportion to the body
Neck– graceful arch, medium length and set to allow high carriage
Fore-hand– sloping shoulders and moderate chest width
Hind Quarters– Slightly sloped croup, round hips, broad loins, and strong hocks
Legs– straight, refined bones, well muscled
Mane, Tail and Forelock– long and full
Size– 13 to 15.2 hands with 13.3 to 14.2 being average; between 700 and 1100 lbs in weight.
Disposition– willing, spirited and responsive
The Show Ring
Paso Fino owners, like many horse owners, like to take the opportunity to show off their magnificent animals in competition. Paso Fino shows offer a variety of classes, and the basics are listed below.
Classic Fino Division- In this division, the horses only perform the classic fino gait.
Performance Division- The gaits shown are the collected corto, the collected largo, and the collected walk.
Pleasure Division- The gaits shown are the mildly collected corto, the mildly collected largo, and the flat footed walk. The rider must look like they are enjoying the ride.
Bellas Formas Division- The only gait shown is either the classic corto or fino gait.
Specialty Division– This division shows off the versatility of the Paso Fino. Classes include western pleasure, trail and costume.