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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Paso Fino   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Paso Fino is a gaited South American saddle horse breed, that is famous for its unique paso fino gait, after which it was named.

The ancestors of the Paso Fino are Spanish and Barb horses that were brought to South America by Christopher Columbus, during his second voyage in 1493. Among these horses, there were Spanish Jennets who were capable to pace and amble. These horses, which were shipped to Santo Domingo, served as breeding stock for the Spanish conquistadores. As part of the breeding program, breeders crossed Spanish Jennets with Andalusians and Barbs. After several generations of extensive crossbreeding, a unique horse with unique gaits was formed: the Paso Fino.

Paso Fino horses became popular across Central and South America, primarily because of their comfortable gaits that made them suitable for long rides. They were bred in Puerto Rico, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. Each country developed its own type of Paso Fino horse, the most famous of which are the Colombian, Cuban, and Puerto Rican types, all of which are found in Horse Isle (see the 'Puerto Rican Paso Fino' and the 'Colombian Paso Fino.') While each type has its own conformation, all of them share the same paso gaits.

In 1950, Paso Fino horses of different types were imported to the USA, where they were crossed together to form an American version of the Paso Fino. The breed became popular in the USA, and today it is doing well. It usually serves for trekking because of its comfortable gait.

Paso Fino horses are known for their paso fino gait (also called 'classic fino') which is a slow four-beat gait, during which the legs move extremely fast but over an extremely short distance. The sequence in which the legs move is identical to the sequence in regular walk: right-rear, right-front, left-rear, left-front. While Paso Fino horses are best known for this gait, they actually have two more unique paso gaits -- the paso corto and the paso largo -- both of which are more commonly used.

The sequence in which the legs move during the paso corto and paso largo is identical to the paso fino, meaning that all of these are four-beat gaits. However, they differ in the distance that the legs cover. Specifically, during the paso corto the legs cover enough distance to generate the speed of an average trot, while during the paso largo the legs cover even more distance to generate the speed of a fast canter. All three of these gaits are extremely smooth and, as such, the rider experiences no up-and-down movement in the saddle, so they can comfortably sit in the saddle regardless of the gait.

When it comes to their conformation, Paso Fino horses from different lineages can differ in their structure and appearance. This is because, in South America, subtypes of Paso Fino horses are not crossed with each other. That said, in general, they usually have a small head with a straight or convex profile, large eyes, small ears that can be curved, an arched neck of medium length that is naturally held in a high position, and small hooves. The manes and tails are often long and are sometimes wavy.

Paso Fino horses come in all colors and patterns except for champagne, dominant black, mushroom, frame-overo, splash, manchado, and leopard. They stand between 13hh and 15.2hh.

(For more info see the 'Colombian Paso Fino,' 'Cuban Paso Fino,' and 'Puerto Rican Paso Fino.')

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