History of Paso Fino

The Paso Fino, the mount of the Spanish conquistadors, has proud ties to a glorious past. It is the oldest true native breed of horse in the Western Hemisphere.
A mixture of three European breeds – the Andalu-sian, the Barb and the now extinct gaited horse the Spanish Jennet – the descendants of today’s Paso Fino were transported to the New WorId on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus. Over times these horses came to be known as Los Caballos de Paso Fino, “the horse with the fine step.” “The Paso Fino”

The Conquistadors and The Paso Finos

The history of the beautiful Paso Fino began with the exploration of America by the Conquistadors. America had no horses, so these Spanish explorers brought Andalusians, Spanish Barb and Spanish Jennets (an extinct breed) over on their ships. These horses were bred together, creating the foundation stock of the Paso Fino breed. The offspring of these horses exhibited a very smooth gait as well as a graceful carriage. Over the next 500 years, the breed was refined to create a small to average sized horse with stamina, an unusually smooth gait and a beautiful look.

The Paso Fino was developed in many areas of Latin America, including Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Aruba, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Today, a large population of these refined mounts can be found in Peru.The distinctive gait of the Paso Fino is unique.

Outside of Latin America, the Paso Fino was virtually unknown until after World War II. American military personnel were stationed in Puerto Rico in the mid-1940s, and were amazed when they saw the incredible Paso Finos. They began importing them into the United States. By the 1960s, horses from Colombia were also being imported.

There was some controversy for awhile as to which country bred the “true” Paso Fino. While it is true that there were some differences, the horses were still remarkably similar. Horses from Puerto Rico had a lighter frame and they were bred to execute an even footstep with no sign of diagonal movement like the trot. Colombian horses were bred in two types: one with wide hooves and a rolling front leg movement that came in handy for moving on plains and in swamps. The other had a gait where the legs moved more like pistons… these horses were used in the mountains.

The gait is smooth and rhythmic with an even four beat lateral movement. Each foot contacts the ground independently of the others at a rapid pace. The movement forward, however, is slow. This gait is performed at three different speeds. No matter what speed the horse travels, the rider should appear motionless with little to no up and down movement.

The classic fino is the slowest version of this gait. The hooves move rapidly, but each step is very small, creating the effect of flashing feet and slow movement all in one. The paso corto is of moderate speed. The stride covers the ground quickly, but does not appear hurried. The paso largo is the fastest version of this unusual gait. With a longer stride, the horse covers a lot more ground. The actual top speed may vary from horse to horse. This unusual gait is obvious from the time a Paso Fino feels steady enough on its legs to do more than wobble. It is a natural gait restricted to this breed.

Naturally quick, surefooted and athletic, their hooves are extremely durable. Paso Finos will vary in size from 13.2 to 15.2 hands with the average being slightly over 14 hands.

They can be found in every equine color-with or without white markings-including bay, black, buckskin, palomino, chestnut, grey, roan and even pinto. The Paso Fino is a “people oriented” horse that enjoys human companion and always strive to please.

The traits that people cherish in the Paso Fino horse today have been a part of its heritage for over 500 years. Used as foundation stock for remount stations of the Conquistador, the Paso Fino carried riders for days over mountains, open ranges, and dense jungles, paving the way for exploration and conquest.

The Paso Fino is a naturally gaited horse. It can walk, canter and gallop like other horses, but its preferred way of going is its own natural four-beat lateral gait. The Paso Fino gait will produce a wonderfully smooth ride at the three primary speeds: Classic Fino, Paso Corto and Paso Largo.

During the Classic Fino, the horse holds itself fully collected and balanced. Leg motion is smooth and extravagant and each hoof hits the ground in rapid succession.

The Paso Corto is the average trail gait and is comparable in speed to a trot. Forward speed is moderate, ground covering but unhurried. A well-conditioned horse may travel at this gait for hours without tiring.

The Paso Largo is the fastest speed, executed with a longer extension and stride. 

Remember, a naturally smooth Paso Fino gait can let the rider enjoy long hours of riding without tiring.