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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Peruvian Paso (Peruvian)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Peruvian Paso (also known as 'Peruvian Horse,' 'Pasos Peruanos,' 'Peruano de Paso,' and 'Costeno de paso') is a gaited saddle breed, which originated in Peru and is the official horse of that country. This breed should not be confused with the Paso Fino, which is a different breed that is not related to the Peruvian Horse. In addition, it should also not be confused with the Costeno, because although the two are related, they are still considered to be different breeds.

The ancestors of the Peruvian Paso were Andalusian, Barb, and Spanish Jennet horses who were brought to Peru during the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadors. By combining these breeds, breeders generated a new breed that has the ambling gait of the Jennet, and the conformation and energetic personality of the Andalusian and Barb. Further selective breeding generated the Peruvian Paso, who excelled as a trail horse for long journeys thanks to its gait and endurance.

While the Peruvian Paso became popular in its birth country, it wasn't common outside of Peru. This changed during the second half of the 20th century, when the breed gained more and more popularity in the USA, because of its unique and comfortable gait. In addition, its personality, which is energetic but unflappable, also added to its reputation as a great horse for trail riding. Therefore, today, the Peruvian Paso is a famous breed that serves for trail and pleasure riding.

Ever since the Peruvian Paso was created, it was known for its unique ambling gait, hence the name 'Paso' which means 'gait' in Spanish. The most iconic component of the Peruvian Paso's gait is called "termino," and refers to the unique way in which Peruvian Paso horses move their front legs: instead of moving them in a straight line forward like they do with their hind legs, Peruvian Pasos move their front legs outside while also moving them forward, and bring the legs to the center only when they are about to lower them down and complete the beat. This creates a movement that is often described as "swimming," and makes their gait smooth and comfortable.

The gait for which the Peruvian Paso is most famous for is a four-beat gait called 'Paso-Llano,' whose speed is similar to that of a trot. In this gait, the horse raises and moves their left hind leg, followed by their left front leg. Then, the hind-left hits the ground, followed by the front-left that hits the ground. When both legs are on the ground, the hind-right leg goes up, followed by the front-right leg. Then, the hind-right leg comes down, followed by the front-right leg. When both legs are on the ground, the horse moves their hind left leg, and so on. During this gait, each of the horse's legs spends an equal amount of time in the air.

Sometimes, the timing between the legs is unequal, and the gait becomes more lateral. This means that the interval between the hind and front legs of one side is shorter than the interval between the hind and front legs on the opposite side. This more lateral gait is called 'sobreandando,' and its speed is similar to the speed of a canter.

Both the paso-llano and sobreandando are characterized by a high knee-action and a termino. In addition, they are both extremely smooth, and their smoothness is tested in the form of two competitions that are unique to the Peruvian Paso breed. In the first competition, riders are given a glass full of liquid, usually champagne, which they need to hold while riding their Peruvian Paso. The aim is to not spill and liquid, and the rider who spill the least amount of champagne wins. In the second competition, riders are given an egg on a spoon, and need to hold the spoon without dropping the egg. The last rider to remain with an egg on a spoon wins.

Interestingly, Peruvian Paso horses exhibit their unique gaits only when ridden. When they are loose, they exhibit regular trot and canter. In addition, both the paso-llano and sobreandando cannot be taught, and are passed genetically from parents to their foals.

Peruvian Paso horses are also known for their elegant conformation. Their head is small with a straight or slightly convex profile, their muzzle is small, their eyes and nostrils are large, their ears are medium in size and often curved inwards, their high-set arched neck is muscular and short or medium in length, their back is short or medium in length, the croup is rounded, their body is wide, and their girth is deep. In addition, Peruvian Pasos usually have long manes, with geldings being the exception as their manes are usually roached. The hair of the mane and tail is either straight or wavy.

Peruvian Pasos come in the colors of bay, brown, black, chestnut, grey, roan, dun, palomino, buckskin, and smoky black. A solid coat is preferable, and therefore, in Horse Isle, pinto patterns are not available for this breed. In addition to solid coat, dark skin is also considered ideal, and therefore horses who are double-cream diluted (CC for cream,) pearl, or cream-pearl in color, will be penalized. Peruvian Paso horses stand between 14hh and 15.2hh.

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