There's a reason why the Paso Fino is called "the smoothest riding horse in the world." This beautifully athletic and graceful horse breed is known for its unique natural gait along with its flowing mane and spirited personality. They're typically more popular in Latin cultures than America, but they're a breed of horse that always stands out as well loved and respected. A lot of people say that when you ride a Paso Fino, you never want to go back. Keep reading to find out exactly why.
Bred By Conquistadors
The history of the Paso Fino dates back 500 years to the time of Christopher Columbus and the conquistadors. When those Spanish explorers landed in the Dominican Republic, they brought horses including Andalusians, Barbs, and the Spanish Jennet. With time, those different bloodlines were bred together for beauty, strength, and a smooth riding gait. The Paso Fino ended up being the result of those careful pairings.
"Los Caballos de Paso Fino," or the horses with the fine step, were prized for their naturally smooth gait. The new breed grew in popularity, and soon soldiers, plantation owners, and even businessmen in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Columbia used the horses for a long list of tasks.
It wasn't until the end of World War II that the Paso Fino made its way to America. Most people credit the spread to soldiers stationed in those Latin American countries. The soldiers, like everyone else, fell in love with the breed. They shipped the horses home to the states where the breed continued to impress and develop. The Paso Fino horses found in America today are typically a blend of the Puerto Rican and Columbian bloodlines.
Strength, Grace, and Good Looks
Standing only 13.3-14.2 hands high, the Paso Fino is well-proportioned. They are typically strong and athletic horses, but they're not overly muscled. They're more sleek than bulky and have a naturally high head carriage.
For coloring, a Paso Fino can be any equine color and can be completely solid-colored or have white markings. For this reason, they can be tricky to identify by looks alone. One potential way to spot a Paso Fino is by looking at their mane and tail. This horse breed typically has long, flowing hair that gives off an impressive shine when it's well groomed.
Versatility for Experienced Riders
With its smooth riding style, the Paso Fino is a favored breed for several disciplines. They excel in drill team competitions and parade riding. They're also a favorite when it comes to mounted shooting. Outside of the competition world, a Paso Fino makes a great trail horse and companion. They can work with cattle, pull carts, and do just about anything you'd want a horse to do.
While they learn quickly, Paso Fino horses are often spirited and very forward-moving. They can have more get-up-and-go than a beginner rider is equipped to handle. A well-trained Paso Fino can be a joy to ride, but they're often recommended for riders with more experience under their belts.
That Smooth Gait
The Paso Fino's biggest claim to fame is their even, rhythmic gait. It's a four-beat gait that keeps one foot on the ground at all times. There is very little vertical motion, and riders sit motionless in the saddle. Every Paso Fino horse is born with this natural ability, and they exhibit their graceful gait normally as soon as they learn how to walk.
There are three speeds to the breed's gait. The Classic Fino involves rapid, yet even, footfalls in short steps for slow forward movement. The equivalent to a trot, the Paso Corto, is a moderate speed with medium extension. Finally, the Paso Largo is the fastest gait while maintaining that smooth stride.
Many people describe riding a Paso Fino to be incomparable to riding any other horse, even other naturally gaited breeds. Riders can go long distances without getting overly sore or uncomfortable. The ride is so smooth, the breed is often recommended to riders with bad backs or stiff joints. People who thought they would never be able to ride again find new joy in the saddle thanks to this smooth equine.