Meet the Paso Fino Horses – Caribbean's Lightest Walkers

Saying Paso Fino horses are naturally gaited would be an understatement, given foals a few hours old can perform their famous four-beat gait. After all, even their name stands as proof of a smooth riding experience and an elegant manner of carrying themselves. But their agility and gait are not the only qualities a Paso Fino horse shows; Conquistadors who colonized Central America also bred them for their beauty and stamina, and called them “Caballos de paso fino” – which translates to horses with fine walk.

History and Origins

Paso Fino horses descend from Barbs, Spanish Jennet mares, and Andalusian stallions which were imported from Spain to South America – the Caribbean, to be more precise. Given they descend from Colonial Spanish Horses, Paso Finos are closely related to Peruvian Paso and American Mustangs.

Over time, 2 groups of Paso Fino horses independently developed by their respective nations: The Puerto Rican Paso Fino and the Colombian Paso Fino, or Colombian Criollo Horse. In time, the breed flourished in other Central or Southern American countries like Cuba, Dominican Republic, Aruba, or Venezuela. It is believed some Paso Finos also reached Northern America and were used by the Nez Perce tribe to create the famous Appaloosa breed.

The two divisions of Paso Fino horses have been heavily crossbred ever since they became worldwide famous. The result of said breeding is the modern Paso Fino show horse – also known as the American Paso Fino. However, recent trends seem to aim towards preserving each individual breed and its unique traits.

The Paso Fino Horse Association – in short, PFHA – is the authority that protects the integrity and heritage of Paso Fino horses, no matter their origin. Founded in 1972, PFHA is now one of the most important horse associations in the U.S.: 24 regions, almost 5,000 members, and 60,000 horses are currently registered with the PFHA.

Breed Particularities

Paso Fino horses generally are quick, agile, and driven by affection and approval. They are full of stamina and ambitious without being strong-willed in a negative sense.

Physical Characteristics of the Paso Fino Horses

A Paso Fino horse is athletic and well proportioned. Even though not particularly muscular, it will always convey power, strength, and balance – as you can easily see in the pictures. There are no breed-specific diseases that affect Paso Finos – in fact, they are among the longest-living horses with an average that surpasses 35 years old. However, they are still sensitive to extreme environmental factors or improper feed and conditions.

Height: 15.2 hands on average, but can range between 13 and 16 hands.

Weight: 850 pounds.

Life expectancy: 35-40 years old.

A Paso Fino has an elegant head with a straight profile and well-proportioned features. The eyes are gentle and intelligent without showing too much white. The head is supported by a strong neck which discreetly slopes into the strong back. A Paso Fino’s legs are defined but not too muscular, with longer forearms, shorter cannons, and strong, durable hooves.

There are no restrictions when talking about the coat color or pattern of a Paso Fino horse. The mane and tail of these horses are long, fine, and silky – trait that further enhances their elegant appearance.

Paso Fino Horses’ Temperament

Paso Fino horses are energetic and gentle at the same time. Versatile and eager to please, they will go out of their way to earn the approval and affection of their rider – who is the most important being in their universe. They strive when being praised for their achievements. Paso Finos have a lot to offer – but they also require certain expenses and a significant amount of time.

Having a Paso Fino Horse

The price of Paso Fino horses for sale range from a few hundred dollars and can surpass $10,000. Differences occur because of training, age, registration, or other factors. When considering if a Paso Fino is the right horse for you, pricing of a Paso Fino for sale and additional expenses can be an influential factor. Here are some amenities you will have to prepare and their approximate costs:

One-time expenses that need to be covered before the horse’s arrival start at about x and can surpass y, based on:

  • A trailer, which can cost between $1,000 for a used one and $50,000 or more for a state of the art one.
  • Tack, which starts at about $500 and can sometimes surpass $7,000.
  • A veterinary check cannot go above $600.
  • Grooming supplies can be $150 at most.

Yearly expenses for having a Paso Fino horse range between $3,500 and $20,000 based on the pricing of boarding, food, and pasture. However, training should be an important investment for Paso Fino owners – since it would be a pity not to cultivate the famous and desired Paso Fino gait. For this breed, training can go well over $11,000 per year.

Expenses without significant pricing variations in terms of location, time of year, or horse breed if the horse is healthy are farrier, emergency insurance, bedding, and medical care.

Common Uses for Paso Fino Horses

The famous skill of Paso Fino horses which gave them their name made these horses ideal for dressage, endurance or general riding, competitive trail riding, and work.

Given their smooth way of carrying themselves, Paso Finos can be ridden under saddle or on a trail for hours without the rider getting tired. In fact, they can also be used in equine assisted therapy. Their friendly and warm nature is effective in improving a patient’s state of mind, while their undisturbed gait is said to alleviate joint pain.

Paso Fino Gaits

As mentioned before, a Paso Fino’s most valuable talent is its gaits – believed to come from its sure-footed Jennet and Andalusian ancestors. There are several steps that show the true value of a Paso Fino horse:

  • Paso Fino (Classic Fino): Reserved for competition, this gait requires collection and discipline. Smaller and faster steps are more appreciated.
  • Paso Corto: A four-beat lateral gait, more extended and slower than others. It is used during trail
  • Paso Largo: Another four-beat gait, similar in speed to canters or slower gallop (25-30 mph) and with an increased stride.

No matter the gait, it is imperative for horses to keep their hooves as close to the ground as possible and to raise them all up at the same level. Given every one of these gaits should be as smooth as possible, the rider would ideally appear motionless during the performance.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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