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About the Paso Fino
... A Natural Choice
Thought by many to be the most exciting breed in America today, the Paso Fino is distinguished by its natural four beat gait, beautiful flowing mane and tail, graceful carriage, and incredibly smooth ride.
The Paso Fino is a horse for all seasons, a horse for all climates, and a horse for many diverse purposes. From the Florida Keys to Alaska – from southern California to eastern Canada, the Paso Fino horse demonstrates it’s remarkable versatility – not just in the show ring, but on competitive trail and endurance rides, dressage work, at barrel racing and gymkhana events, and back at the ranch working cattle. And, most important to hundreds of owners, the Paso Fino horse is unsurpassed as a pleasure horse and equine companion.
With its remarkable intelligence and willing, responsive disposition, the Paso Fino can be the first horse for a child – or the last horse for one’s autumn years. And he may be the one horse that can bring the pleasure of horseback riding to the handicapped or disabled.
This unique horse has been called “America’s 500 year old new Breed,” since it was unknown in the United States until the late 1940’s, but has been bred in Latin America since the days of the Conquistadors.
The Paso Fino horse is an athlete, an investment, and a family treasure. And he does it all with a natural gait that provides unparallel comfort for the rider, a style that is unique to the breed, and unsurpassed versatility for the horse lover.
The Beginning… More than 8000 years ago, the Ice Age swept across America and changed the land. Many forms of life, including the horse, vanished or were driven to other parts of the world.
So thousands of years later, when Columbus discovered the New World he found a land without horses!
Birth of a Breed… The following year when Columbus returned to the new land, he brought with him a few hardy horses and settled them in Santo Domingo. These horses were a mixture of Barb and Andalusian (both noted for their hardiness and stamina) and the Spanish Jennet, which was know for its extremely comfortable saddle gait.
Later explorers brought more horses and these, together with the original stock, were blended to produce a horse that was uniquely suited to the demands of the new land. These hardy horses could travel vast distances without tiring, and were easy keepers that maintained their stamina on the available vegetation. But most importantly, these horses possessed and transmitted to their offspring a natural four beat gait that provided an extremely comfortable ride (a desirable trait to the explorers who spent numerous hours in the saddle!)
Used as the foundation stock for remount stations of the Conquistadors, these horses came to be known as Los Caballos de Paso Fino, “the horse with the fine walk.”
Characteristics of the Breed… The American Paso Fino Horse reflects its Spanish heritage through its proud carriage, grace and elegance. In addition to being born with the natural ability to perform the Paso Fino gait, selective breeding has produced other basic qualities in today’s Paso Fino horses.
The Paso Fino horse is “people oriented,” enjoying his human companions and striving to please. He is willing and spirited, yet gentle at hand and easily managed. His hooves are extremely durable and he is seldom shod unless traveling on rocky surfaces. His large lung capacity gives him endurance, and he is naturally quick, surefooted and athletic. Size varies, with the average being slightly over 14 hands. Every equine color can be found with or without white markings.
Paso Fino horses have the ability to execute all natural equine gaits and can be taught to perform them on cue. But, because the Paso Fino gait is so comfortable and unique, most riders require the Paso Fino to move only in its own special gait under saddle.
The American Paso Fino is born with a gait unique to the breed. As a natural gait, it does not exhibit the catapulting or exaggerated leg action of man-made gaits; rather the movements are smooth, rhythmic, straight, balanced in flexion and synchronous front to rear, resulting in unequalled comfort and smoothness for the rider. The American Paso Fino is a graceful, agile and supple equine athlete that uses all four legs with precision and harmony.
The Gait… The gait of a Paso Fino horse is an evenly spaced 4-beat lateral gait with each foot contacting the ground independently in a regular sequence at precise intervals creating a rapid, unbroken rhythm. Executed perfectly, the four hoof beats are absolutely even in both cadence and impact.
Footfall is in the same sequence as a natural equine walk, i.e., left rear, left fore, right rear, right fore. Propulsion is primarily from the hind limbs and the horse’s motion is absorbed in its back and loins. The Paso Fino gait is performed at three forward speeds and with varying degrees of collection. In all speeds of the gait the rider should appear virtually motionless in the saddle, and there should be no perceptible up and down motion of the horse’s croup.
Classic Fino… Executed fully collected, the forward speed is very slow, and the footfall is extremely rapid while the steps and extension are exceedingly short.
Paso Corto… Forward speed is moderate, ground covering but unhurried, executed with medium extension and stride. Collection varies with class requirements.
Paso Largo… The fastest speed of the gait. The largo is executed with longer extension and stride and varying degrees of collection. Forward speed varies with the individual horse, since each should attain its top speed in harmony with its own natural stride and cadence.
In the United States, emphasis has been placed on naturalness and any evidence of abusive training methods results in disqualification in the show ring. Whether executing the highly collected classic Fino or the fully extended Paso Largo, the Paso Fino’s performance is a pleasure for both rider and observer. We invite you to experience the pleasure yourself…for when it comes to elegance, comfort and performance the Paso Fino Horse is the natural choice.
How We Came To Be
On November 15, 1986, a group of 35 intrepid folks gathered together to organize the Deep South Paso Fino Horse Association. The historic meeting was held in Kiln, Mississippi. The conspirators included Paso lovers from Mississippi, Louisiana and southern Alabama. National President, Fred Green gave an orientation speech instructing the group on social activities, on organizing shows and on promotion of the breed.
It was rumored a collective sigh of relief was heard all through the Deep South that night because no longer did the Paso aficionados have to travel hundreds of miles to exhibit or watch Paso shows. And, on January 1987, this much needed region was approved by the National Office.
Armed with our regional status, the members rolled up their sleeves and set to work promoting the virtues of the perfect horse. Over the years, we have given numerous demonstrations, participated in exhibitions at prestigious affairs, such as regional Polo games, Parade of Breeds, and Scottish Highland Games held in Mississippi and other breed horse shows. Clinics were conducted locally by some of our own knowledgeable Paso people. Our horses participated in the Special Olympics on the Mississippi coast, competitive trail and endurance rides, open gaited classes in open horse show, parades for Mardi Gras and other events, and fund raising trail rides sponsored by our own Deep South Region. We have also begun a tradition of putting on Fun Shows which allow everyone to participate in an educational, enjoyable and less formal group event but which also provides another way to show off our horses to the public. Our first official Paso Fino Horse Show was held in June 1987 in Covington, Louisiana. It was a successful event entitled “Bon Temp Rouler”, or “Let the Good Times Roll”. Then came the big time…
In 1988 the Mississippi Dixie National Livestock and Rodeo organizers invited our region to hold a two-day show. That event takes place over a 3 week period, with thousands in attendance for the various livestock shows and a first class rodeo held the evenings of our show dates. This invitation, which was eagerly accepted, heralded the start of a tradition which continues until this day. Between 1988 and 1996, “Premier” has had exceptional attendance and participation, and it has helped generate much interest in the “Paser Finer”, as some have been heard to call our “little darlings”.
In 1997, our club began having two large shows each year – one in north Mississippi at the Lee County Agri-Center in Tupelo, MS and one in south Mississippi at the Harrison County Arena in Gulfport, MS. These shows are being well received and have a bright future! Our membership has doubled, and our region has won several National Championships in Bella Forma, Performance and Classic Fino classes. We have several T.O.P. winners in residence and our bloodlines include some of the breed’s greatest horses. The people responsible for the beginning and for the continued growth of our club are too many to name. From past and present officers to the “not lowly at all” past and present plain old members, all have sacrificed their time and efforts, striving to promote and enjoy our four-footed lovable, elegant cruisers. Many of the original “35” founders are still with us today patiently assisting the newcomers and volunteering their hands and hearts.
This year saw our first show in the new Forrest County Multi-Purpose Center in Hattiesburg, MS. We also had a joint show with the Southwest Paso Fino Horse Association in Monroe, LA. Club members put on an excellent Paso Fino demonstration at the Philadelphia Fair that was very well received. Membership continued to grow. Our newer members have enthusiastically joined in our mission to introduce our “treasures” to the world. And so we continue, hopefully for a long, long time!
Become a Member
We’re an association for both amateur owners and professional trainers of Paso Fino horses in Louisiana and Mississippi. Working together, we accomplish more. It is the member’s love of the Paso Fino breed, spirit of cooperation, generosity of time and open friendship that makes the Deep South a great club. Deep South Paso Fino Horse Association offers members a wide range of benefits designed to meet the needs of both the amateur owner and the professional Paso Fino breeder or trainer.
- Show Information – Local, regional & national Horse show schedules.
- Trail Ride Information – To help you find the ultimate pleasure ride areas and the top companionship to go with it.
- Equine Liability Insurance (Bottom Line) – Coverage for Deep South Paso Fino Association sponsored events where applicable.
- Information Services – Deep South Paso Fino Association provides an ongoing series of seminars and workshops to keep you informed and current. Your membership also brings newsletters and additional training publications.