The Paso Fino - A Horse for All Seasons
By Jennie Williams
"What makes a Paso Fino so special?" Many of us in Paso Finos are asked that question on a daily basis. There are a myriad of reasons that a Paso can get under you skin and into your heart forever. But the bottom line is always the RIDE. It usually takes only one ride to convince people that the Paso Fino is completely different from any other breed you have ever encountered. Although not well known in the US, numbering fewer than 40,000 in the entire US, the Paso Fino horse is gaining great popularity among the more horse savvy community. The long held secret is getting out and more and more horse enthusiasts are looking for that very distinctive tuc-a-tuc-a-tuc-a-tuc-a sound of a Paso going by.
This is the Mercedes of the horse world. Like a Mercedes, the Paso Fino's power steering, power suspension, low-slung carriage, and high performance motor, give a glass smooth ride that effortlessly glides along the trails, providing immense pleasure to both horse and rider. More and more chiropractors and orthopedists are recommending Paso Finos to their injured clientele who just won't give up riding a horse for anything in the world. Paso Finos have become "horse therapy" for all of those injured backs, hips, and knees.
Second to the ride in importance has to be the personality of these horses. Not in 50 years around horses have I had another breed as a whole just take my breath away. They are smart, enthusiastic, willing, mischievous, strong, loving, sharing, and oh so many other adjectives that come to mind. The Paso Fino will enlarge and challenge your vocabulary just trying to describe it.
And don't let their smaller stature fool you. An 800-pound (350kg) Paso can carry a 6ft plus, 250 pound (110kg) person up and down the worst trails without thinking twice about it. The trick is in how they move. The Paso pulls his rear end carriage up underneath himself to support himself and any weight he may be carrying. Since their steps are so short relative to other breeds, there is no rocking motion caused by great extension of stride. They are shorter horses so they are easier to get on. A 14-hand Paso Fino can usually carry more weight comfortably, over a far greater distance, than a 16 or 17 hand Thoroughbred. Think about it, you wouldn't question that a burro or small donkey could carry a full sized man up and down the Grand Canyon trails. If you watch a Paso Fino they have a similar movement to a burro. The legs go up and down underneath themselves, instead of extended out behind and in front. If you watch where a saddle goes on any other breed, it is placed higher on the withers so that the horse can support the weight placed on them. That is because, traditionally, a horse carries 60 percent of its body weight in the front end and 40 percent of its body weight in the rear end, with a sleigh back and rib carriage suspended between. That is why your longer backed, taller horses can not carry as much weight in the center of their back, unlike a burro or a Paso Fino.
Small size enhances their ability to carry a bigger person. It has to do with conformation, or the way a horse is put together. The longer the back, the longer the leg, the greater the extension in stride, the less weight a horse can carry in the center of his back and the rougher the ride. For all of you out there who are hung up on the "I have to have a BIG horse, I'm not riding that pony!" syndrome, watch out for these powerhouse "ponies." They will leave you and your big horses in the dust on the trails. A good friend told me that he has a "19-hand horse in a 14-hand body," and he runs rings around all of the trail riders out in the National forest. The Paso Fino is like a finely tuned sports car. They have a powerhouse, energy efficient engine, with all the comfort of the smoothest ride in the horse world.
Take a chance, and if you can, ride a Paso Fino, then you will know first hand what all of the fuss is about. The Paso is not a horse you can describe well, you have to experience them on the ground and in the saddle. Horse enthusiasts of all ages and occupations, from the first time rider to the most experienced, are flocking to see this wonderful, exciting breed that is not so new. It is just recently that people are rediscovering the advantage of the comfort, intelligence, power, and enthusiasm that you will find in the Paso Fino.
Enjoy the dream -- Experience the reality! The Paso Fino.