The Paso Fino is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful horse breeds in the world. Known for it’s alluring gaits and rapid leg action, this breed has become extremely popular in Latin America. Currently, the Paso Fino Horse Association has over 50,000 registered horses and 9,500 members.
Paso Fino History and Origins
The Paso Fino is a gaited horse breed. It is widely thought of as a Spanish horse, but it is popular in many other countries, including Colombia, the United States, and Puerto Rico.
The Paso Fino horse was bred from two types of Spanish horses – Andalusians and Spanish Jennets – and the North African Barb, or Berber horse. The Spanish Jennet, known for their smooth riding gaits, were crossed with Andalusians to form the Paso Fino breed.
Eventually, this breed its way into the United States in the mid-1940s when American servicemen stationed in Puerto Rico encountered the beautiful breed. They began to import Paso Finos into the States from Puerto Rico after WWII, and later from Colombia.
There is some dispute over which is the “true” Paso Fino breed, but in the U.S., most Paso Fino horses now carry the bloodlines of the finest of the breed from both Puerto Rico and Colombia.
Paso Fino Breed Statistics
Height and Weight
The Paso Fino horse ranges from about 13 to 15.2 hands in height and typically weighs between 700 to 1000 pounds.
Color and Markings
This breed can be found in any color, with or without white markings on the head and legs.
According to the Paso Fino Horse Association, the ideal Paso Fino horse begins with a refined head, bearing an intelligent face. It must be proportionate, the jaw well-defined but not extreme.
The neck should arch gracefully, neither too long or too short, allowing for high carriage. The shoulders should slope into the withers with great depth through the hearth.
The topline should be shorter than the underline but proportionate, while the back should be muscular and strong.
The croup should be slightly sloping, rounded through the loins, with strong and broad hips finished with strong hocks.
The legs should be straight, refined of bone, with well defined tendons, broad, long forearms, and shorter cannon bones. The thigh and gaskin should be thickly muscled, but not exaggerated. The desired pasterns should be sloping and medium in length.
Characteristics and Temperament
This beautiful, delicate breed is a medium sized horse with a dainty head and wide-spaced eyes. They are very kind and gentle in temperament, as well as typically being very loyal and loving toward their masters.
The Paso Fino is used in many disciplines, including showing. It is especially popular for trail riding.
Paso Fino Horse Gaits
In addition to the other natural horse gaits (walk, trot, and canter), the Paso Fino horse is known for its unique gait. It is performed at three forward speeds while the degrees of collection can vary.
No matter which speed, the rider should seem to be motionless in the saddle, and the up and down motion of the horse’s croup should be imperceptible.
In this gait, the horse should be in full collection, with only very slow forward speed. Rapid footfall is expected while the steps and extension remain extremely short.
Collection is full to moderate while the forward speed is moderate. Steps are unhurried but cover ground. This speed of the gait should be executed with medium extension and stride.
Executed with a longer extension and stride, this is the fastest speed of the gait. It should be performed with moderate to minimal collection. The forward speed will vary based on each individual horse, because each horse should be in harmony with its own natural stride and cadence when it attains top speed.
It is especially interesting to note that one of the breeds that founded the Paso Fino horse, the Spanish Jennet, is now extinct.
Enjoy this compilation video below of the Paso Fino being ridden and doing it’s famous quick step.
How Much Does a Paso Fino Horse Cost?
The price of a Paso Fino horse can range from free to over $100,000, depending on the quality of horse. Some elite, international show quality Paso Finos are well over $100,000, but the average pleasure or casual show level Paso Fino horse is available for less than $8,000.
What are Paso Fino horses used for?
Prized for their unique, smooth natural gait, the Paso Fino was imported from Spain to the Caribbean. They are popular for trail riding because of their pleasant gaits.
Is the Paso Fino gait natural?
Yes! It is normally exhibited from birth. It is an evenly-spaced gait with four beats, where each foot strikes the ground alone in regular, precise intervals that cause a quick, unbroken rhythm. Despite how it sounds, it is a remarkably smooth ride.
What does it mean to have a gaited horse?
Gaited horses refers to certain breeds that have been selectively bred to have natural gaited tendencies, or the ability to perform any of the intermediate speed, smooth-to-ride, four-beat gaits. These are referred to as ambling gaits.
Other gaited horse breeds include: American Saddlebred, Icelandic Horse, Marwari, Missouri Fox Trotter, Peruvian Paso, and Tennessee Walking Horse.
What horse has the smoothest gait?
The Peruvian Paso is reported to have the smoothest gait.