Known for its exuberant presence, characteristically smooth riding gait, and overall appearance of beauty, the Paso Fino horse is a popular breed.
These horses do just as well in the show ring as they do as surefooted options as trail riding animals and riding for endurance.
The breed is versatile, and the preferred horse of riders who suffer from back ailments and other injuries. Horses offer comfortable gaits and riders are happy sitting on them all day. In fact, the gait of the Paso is so cozy that riders report not wanting to ride any other horse again!
The Paso Fino breed has a history that goes back more than 500 years. The explorer, Christopher Columbus took stallions and mares to the Dominican Republic during his many travels. He transported a variety of animals ranging from horses like Barb and Spanish Jennet, to Andalusian bloodlines.
The Spanish Jennet is now extinct. The Spanish conquistadors rode them with confidence as they explored the continent of Latin America. These horses were used for breeding new generations of breeds that exhibited stamina and endurance, and a combination of elegance with a smooth-gaited finesse.
The Paso Fino breed came from a mix of three brilliant horse breeds with all the traits that their forefathers offered. Plantation owners of Columbia and Puerto Rico rode them on their lands to manage their workers and farmhands. Horses were adored by these important people because they proved to be fine gaited horses.
During the Second World War, soldiers from the United States of America arrived in the Dominican Republic and were pleasantly surprised to discover the Paso Fino horse breed. The smooth gait drew them in and they were addicted to these horses instantly.
When the Second World War ended, soldiers purchased the horses and shipped them to North America. From that time, to now, the modern Fino has been the outcome of selective breeding programs. The Paso Fino of today has culminated from years of genetics to retain toughness, versatility and endurance from its ancestors.
One of the unique and noticeable characteristics of Fino horses are their distinctive four-beat gait trait. What makes this gait smooth for the rider is the way the horse keeps a foot rooted to the ground all the time its moving.
In contrast to the trot that creates a good amount of vertical motion, the Paso Fino’s shoulders just move slightly in a vertical direction. As a result, the horse’s back absorbs most of the movement. The consequence of this is a rhythmic gait that riders can pleasantly experience for lengthy distances.
Paso Fino horses can perform this gait in three speed variants (varying degrees of collection):
- Paso Corto – This is a mild to medium-paced gait in which the horse steps rapidly, but seems to dance on the spot. Here, the forward speed is moderate, with full to moderate collection in the gait.
- Paso Largo – This is the fastest of all gaits, permitting the horse to cover substantial ground swiftly. This is a gait that is inherent in Paso Finos, and they have the ability to perform it from the time that they are born.
- Classic Fino – This is a gait of full collection. Paso Fino horses step quickly, but appear as if dancing in a single place.
Paso Finos are not fussy eaters and don’t have any special dietary needs. They can thrive on a diet in which consumption equals 2 – 2.5% of their body weight in forage on a daily basis.
Blends of hay and pasture are usually suitable for feed. In case Fino horses are involved in regular work, they may require concentrated feeds with nutrient-supplying energy. Nonetheless, this depends on each individual horse. Horses who can maintain a healthy weight on hay and pasture exclusively, will still benefit from some caloric content. This ensures that they get a balance of nutrition that they need.
The Paso Fino breed is a healthy breed, but may be prone to ligament issues such as degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis. Affecting the hind legs, this condition may show up in older horses. Horses diagnosed with this, exhibit a degeneration of suspensory ligaments with the fetlock sinking toward the ground. Such horses must be retired from riding altogether and are affected by progressive degrees of lameness. Unfortunately, this condition has no cure, forcing owners to euthanize horses due to the excessive pain the horse has to endure.
Breeding And Uses
The Paso Fino horses we see today are very versatile mounts. Excelling in a multitude of disciplines and various activities, these are sought-after. These aren’t horses that lag behind and are very useful competitive trail riding animals. Endurance riding, mounted shooting, drill competitive team competitions and working and managing cattle are all done with ease by this fine horse. In the show ring, these horses stand out as they take part in English and Western riding shows.
Paso Finos are preferred for pleasure driving and any riding as these horses are reliable and surefooted. This trait is so important in competitive riding sports, that they are favored animals.
They are friendly to humans and can be trained with ease, and speed, obeying commands diligently and consistently. Intelligent and spirited, they are bred for the show ring primarily, but suit most purposes. Forward moving with an elegance you rarely see, there is a great demand for these horses. Countless champion Paso Finos have been recorded. As early as 1932, Dulce Sueno, a stallion, was an influential sire horse. His children went on to win many competitions. Capuchino was a champion too, a member of the breed’s famed horses.
Horses typically stand at a range between 13.3 and 14.2 hands high. Larger animals can stand at 15.2 hands high. Some horses may be small at 13 hands high. Paso Finos may take long to reach maturity. Some horses may not reach their full standing height until they are 5 years of age.
They weigh between 700 pounds to 1,000 pounds.
What Breeds Make Up The Paso Fino?
From a combination of impressive lineage, the Paso Fino has been bred from the Spanish Jennet, the Barb, and the Andalusian horse. Primarily bred by Spanish landowners in Columbia and Puerto Rico, they were used extensively on plantations of landowners to supervise cattle. As riding horses, they offer extreme comfort and have a great deal of stamina for long haul riding.
These horses come in all colors and you will discover that they are registered as such. The white Paso Finos are beautiful to look at, as are the typically common brown horses. With distinctively flowing tails and manes, they are a sight to behold in the show ring or while grazing on pasture.
What Do They Look Like?
The body of the Paso Fino is compact, robust and athletic. This horse breed has a young-looking appearance as its build is relatively smaller to other horses. Paso Fino horses have long and thick manes, and a smooth and shiny coats. Tails and manes must be groomed regularly so that tangles are avoided.
Many owners of these horses braid their manes and tails, not because it looks wonderful, but to manage long hair.
What Are They Used For?
One of the most versatile horses on earth, Paso Fino horses can be used for pleasure or competitive sport. As their gait is so comfortable, many riders want to get on them. As trail horses, they show endurance and stamina, and can carry loads too. They are used in show rings, parades and other show jumping-related events.
Where Do They Live?
For centuries, Paso Finos have been bred selectively in colonies of the Caribbean and Latin America. Varieties of the horses are found in abundance in Latin America till today. Initially, horses flourished in Puerto Rico and Columbia. Now you’ll find them in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Aruba and some parts of the United States of America.
How Long Do They Live?
Paso Finos can live to 25 years of age and this can go up a few years if they face no ligament issues and are generally healthy.
How Fast Are They?
Paso Finos can go to speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour (48.28 kilometers per hour). The paso largo is a rapid, four-beat gait at which the horse can get up to speeds rivaling a canter or a gallop. The paso largo isn’t just an increase in speed, but also portrays an extended gait.
How Much Do They Cost?
Paso Fino horses check all the right boxes in their traits for any equestrian. Prices largely depend on the individual horses ancestry and the qualities the horse has. Horses with particularly refined heads and intelligent eyes, showing classic gaits can go for nearly $100,000 USD. A casual and regular horse may be available for as little as $8,000 USD.
Are They Good For Beginners?
Several horses from this breed are forward rides and so, may not be ideal for beginners. Timid riders may feel especially wary as these horses, though very easy to sit on and balance, tend to move with acceleration. Experienced riders with back and muscle issues will have a pleasurable riding experience.
Sound and healthy, and very friendly, the Paso Fino is the perfect horse for many a rider. With necks that arch so gracefully and bodies that can go over all terrain, these are horses you will want to own when you see them.
There’s a whole world of horse breeds out there to explore! Discover and find out more information by checking out our horse breed guides.