Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Part Two - Variations, Gaits, and Showing
Last month we discussed the history of the Paso Fino, the disciplines they are used for, and what they are most well-known for, their ultra-smooth gait.
This month lets go more in depth, with a real feel for the unique athleticism, beauty, and intelligence of the Paso Fino.
There are three Paso Fino breeds the Paso Fino from Puerto Rico, the Paso Fino from Columbia, also called the Colombian Criollo Horse, and the Peruvian Paso.
The Paso Fino from Puerto Rico is known to be refined but powerful, they have a convex head, clean legs, and a relatively short back with prominent withers. They have shorter cannon bones and hard hooves with a very thick mane and tail. They perform three gaits, the classic fino, the corto, and the largo. This is the only breed to carry the Tiger Eye gene giving some Paso Fino horses a yellow, amber, or orange iris.
The Colombian Paso Fino is very similar in size and look to the one from Puerto Rico but the Criollo as they are often called, tends to have a more rapid, piston action in their footfall and can perform additional gaits called the trocha and the trote y galope as well as the traditional Paso Fino gaits.
The Peruvian Paso Fino is somewhat larger, deeper bodied and wider. They have a deep chest, heavy neck, and body with a low set quiet tail. Their natural gaits are called the Paso Llano and the Sobreandando. Some Peruvian Paso Fino horses also have termino which is an outward swinging of the leg, like a swimmer's arms.
The Classic Fino - Only some horses can perform the classic fino while the majority can perform the other gaits with ease. The Classic fino is highly collected, with the footfalls in a very rapid piston style movement. It is typically a show gait reserved for competition because while it is amazing to see, it covers very little ground.
The Paso Corto - Is slightly more extended then the classic fino, used frequently during trail rides with a comparable speed to a trot but remarkably smooth.
The Paso Largo - Is a fast, lateral 4 beat gait where the horse reaches speeds equivalent to a canter or slow gallop. There is a distinct extension but with the same style movement as the fino and the corto.
Trocha - 4 beat smooth gait like the fox trot.
Trote y Galope - An exaggerated diagonal two beat trot or very collected canter.
Paso Llano - Meaning even step. An equal four-beat gait. Falling as 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
Sobreandando - A faster gait than the Llano with footfall like 1-2, 3-4. This gait is utilized to cover long distances and compares to the speed of a canter.
Paso Fino horses compete in shows all over the world and nothing can quite compare to seeing these horses in real life in competition, on the trail, or in a field. In the show ring, judges often look for the degree of brio in the horse. A term mentioned commonly when speaking about a Paso Fino but the complexity of the term is rarely discussed. This is a characteristic sought after by breeders and owners. A complex temperament of arrogance, and spirit, with a sense of always being on parade but being completely willing to submit it all to the rider in obedience. Making the pair stunning to watch.
While the pandemic has limited our ability to attend many shows this past year the Paso Fino Horse Association has been able to push forward with the Grand National Show, where horses from all over the nation come to Perry, Georgia, every year to compete. We've included a link in our monthly newsletter so you can watch these horses compete live. Horses and riders will be competing in several divisions from Pleasure, Performance and Fino, along with trail classes and Colombian gait classes. We encourage you to watch the gaits and listen to the commands.