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@2001 Jennie Williams
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The Paso Fino As a Breed 

     It is the lateral four-beat gait that distinguishes the Paso Fino in the equestrian world. As it moves, the horse's feet fall in a natural lateral pattern instead of the more common diagonal pattern. Rather than trotting, causing that seat thumping bounce that can be unpleasant for horse and rider, the Paso Fino's medium speed is a corto, during which the rider is reassuringly seated.

     The basic gaits of the Paso Fino in order of speed are the paso fino, paso corto, and paso largo. They also walk and canter. These are not trained movements, but are natural to the horse from the moment of its birth. Paso Fino owners pride themselves in the naturalness of their animals.  However it is normal that a horse that can paso fino will rarely paso largo, and a horse that is proficient in the paso largo is not normally a horse that can paso fino.  This is because the amount of collection and the length of stride is what determines the speed of the gait.  All can walk and all can canter and all can corto, but only the select few, the very best wear the title of FINO.  However, the trail riding person does not need a fino horse, they would rather have the largo horse.   Fino is exciting to watch in a show ring or a parade, but doesn't get you down the road very far, very fast.  A paso largo on the other hand, will outdistance a horse of another breed in a canter. 

     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 gait is a four-beat lateral gait, the birthright of every Paso Fino. Newborn foals struggle to their feet and take their first faltering steps in gait.  It is essentially a broken pace: it is lateral, not diagonal. The sequence of the footfall is right rear, right fore, left rear, left fore. The cadence of the 1,2,3,4 beat is rhythmic with equal time intervals between hoof beat. 

PASO FINO GAIT

   This animation is from a website that describes paso fino gait in great detail.  On the left you can see the actual slow footfall.  

 For more details, visit: http://www.pasofinogait.com

If you would like to see a Paso Fino on the sounding board to watch and listen to the gait follow the link at the left and click on the video button.

     There is very little up and down movement in either the croup or the shoulder of the horse. The gait is performed at three speeds with the collection decreasing as speed increases. As with a child, an upbringing that includes good food, affection tempered with discipline, and lots of exercise, will assure that the horse best fulfills its potential. Artificial training aids like weighted shoes and chains are not necessary to bring about this genetically inherent gait.  The gait itself is evenly spaced, with each foot contacting the ground independently. The power of movement is generated primarily from the hind legs, and the impact of footfall is dissipated before it can reach the rider so that the ride is incomparably smooth.

     Though each Paso Fino is born with the gait, some are natural athletes whose skill and presence destines them for the show ring.  Those who demonstrate superb execution of the classic fino gait will compete in classes where the ultimate test of the even footfall comes when the horse traverses the fino board to the hushed silence of the audience. As each hoof strikes the board, the quickness and even rhythm are communicated to judge and audience in a clear report. A champion generates a rapid staccato rhythm while muscles ripple over a fully collected body. The power of the hind leg drive is executed in beautiful contrast to the stunning restraint of the forelegs, which move forward in inches. Horse and rider, as one, are challenged to perform at Olympic quality levels, to the immediate thunderous applause of the audience's appreciation.

     All Paso Fino gaits are a pleasure, but what most owners are looking for in a pleasure horse is not only beauty, spirit, carriage and disposition, but also a comfortable medium speed gait. That gait is the corto. Comparable in speed to a trot or a jog, the corto is the average trail gait. A well conditioned Paso Fino can travel at the corto for hours, and thanks to the smooth gait, so can the rider. 

     The largo is an even more extended version of the same footfall. A horse at the largo can cover ground at a breathtaking speed while still providing a secure and balanced seat for the rider. 

     Elegant and with a brilliant style, the Paso Fino generally ranges in size from 13.2 hands to 15 hands. Colors run the spectrum with a variety of markings from chestnut, bay, palomino, black, gray and roan to pinto. It is a spirited yet gentle horse, intelligent and tractable. The Paso Fino has been bred for physical balance, with no exaggerated muscling or size in any portion of the horse. The ideal show horse is at once dramatic, regal, restrained, and generates an aura of presence.

     Paso Finos make an exciting investment opportunity. If the purchase is motivated by a desire for a personal pleasure horse, then there couldn't be a more pleasurable equine experience. On the other hand, the thrill of competition is an enticement enjoyed by many owners. Show classes are available at levels from first-time novice to professional trainer, and the rewards vary from personal satisfaction to international prestige. Shows are conducted year-round at regional levels throughout the United States as well as in the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. United States' competitors and spectators can also participate in an annual Grand National Championship Show sanctioned by the Paso Fino Horse Association.

     Versatility is the passport to satisfied ownership for this popular equine. In addition to show and pleasure-trail abilities, the Paso Fino can be trained for a variety of uses. In competitive trail riding the endurance of the well-trained Paso Fino has earned the breed national honors. Its compact size and quickness have carved it a place on ranches where it becomes a hard working partner and employee. Remember, in South America, Pasos ARE the cowpony.  It is an excellent driving horse, and competes with spirit in gymkhana. In bird dog work, the Paso Fino not only demonstrates a fine temperament for field handling, but also is of a size that makes frequent mounting and dismounting easy. Because of its exceptionally smooth ride, it is the premier and prudent choice for those with back and neck injuries and arthritis, as well as for therapeutic riding programs for the handicapped. Paso Finos are ridden and trained both English and Western. They are lightly shod or go unshod depending on the terrain you are generally riding on.  

     It was a Paso Fino mare who won the battle of the breeds in horse country in Florida where the horses were  judged on their abilities to perform a number of different disciplines, including jumping, barrels, trail, show, reining, and driving.  A Paso can be trained to perform any function that you may desire, and will enjoy the teamwork and partnership that it takes to get there.  

     In 1972 the Paso Fino Horse Association, Inc., was established to promote, protect, and improve the breed. It organized registration, importation, breeding and showing in the United States, and gave the breeders an opportunity to join hands in an effort to publicize the availability of this once rare breed. Since that time, the numbers of Paso Finos and Paso Fino enthusiasts has risen dramatically, and breeders anticipate continued enthusiasm for the company of this outstanding horse.

     One of the outstanding things about a Paso Fino that differs from so many other gaited horses, is that they are in gait even coming downhill at whatever speed you desire.  Even on his own, with no rider, the Paso Fino is in gait.  That is what we call a "natural gait" that is inherent in the breed, not manufactured.

 

Brief History of the Paso Fino

     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. 

     In 1492 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. Over 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 also was able to pass the gait on to its offspring. The result of the blending of these horses was to become known as the Paso Fino breed - the horse with the incredibly smooth gait. 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 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 Colombia, the Paso Fino demonstrates 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. And he does it all with a gait that provides unparalleled comfort for the rider. 

 

 

 

 

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