The Paso Fino is said to be a direct ancestor of the imported Spanish horses of the 16th century with the only variations being those that helped suit the horse to the new climate. The horse is known primarily for its unique step for which it is named. In addition to the paso fino, the horse also exhibits two other natural four-beat gaits: the paso corto and the paso largo. The paso fino is a slow and collected gait, the paso corto covers long distances at a steady gait, and the paso largo is a faster four beat.
The Paso Fino stands, on average, 14 hands high and comes in all colors including albino and pinto. The head is generally small compared to the body and of Arabian-type, with short pricked ears. The neck is long and fully arched with a naturally long mane and tail. It has good shoulders with a short back and strong loins and quarters. The legs are light of bone and hard.
It is said that the Paso Fino descends directly from horses brought to the Caribbean Islands in the early 1500s. The islands' hilly and rocky terrain negated the use of fast horses. Over time this Spanish stock, mainly Jennet, was selected for a slow, steady, collected gait. Existing in such isolated environments some inbreeding took place and the horses declined in size and naturally passed on the unique gaits required to traverse the island terrain. After time, mainly to increase size, these horses were crossed by breeders with Arabian, American Saddle Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse and Morgan. Only the Morgan seemed to improve the breed without nullifying the gaits of the native horses. The horse is now becoming popular in the U.S.; strains that were developed separately in Puerto Rico, Peru, and Colombia are now being merged into a single strain.
After many years of careless breeding and little attention, the Paso Fino found favor in Puerto Rico as a unique breed. In 1943, the Federacion del Deporte de Caballos de Silla de Puerto Rico was formed in an effort to improve the horse. The improvements manifested quickly, making an elegant and calm-natured horse.
1. Andalusian 2. Barb 3. Spanish Jennet 4. American Saddle Horse 5. Tennessee Walking Horse 6. Morgan
For more information:
Paso Fino Horse Association