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Paso Fino horse, photo © H. Dossenbach

Paso Fino horse, photo © H. Dossenbach

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The Paso Fino horse (Colombia)

Origins of the Paso Fino Horse

The Paso Fino horse, photo © H. DossenbachThe history of the Paso Fino breed began in Spain, where the chance of cross-breeding brought about an elegant new saddle horse. To occupy Spain, the Moors brought with them Berberian horses now called Barbes. The importation of this breed had significant genetic impact on the evolution of horses in Europe, Northern Africa, and in the New World. The Jennet of Spain is the result of the cross-breeding between Barbes and local horses, which later benefited from the addition of Andalusian blood.

It was in his second voyage to the New World that Christopher Columbus brought the first horses to Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic). These animals were the offspring of Barbes, Spanish Jennets and Andalusian horses. Later on in Mexico and in South America, other breeds would add to the genetic mixture; however, their complete isolation allows them to be recognized as the Paso Fino's ancestors.

The offspring of these horses was dispersed to the different countries discovered by explorers and attacked by invadors. The horses were used as a mode of transport in Porto Rico and Columbia, in the Ismus of Panama, through Mexico, and in Cuba.

The Amble, a genetic characteristic

Paso Fino horse, photo © H. DossenbachThe Paso Fino horse benefits from the best of each breed in its origins. Among its characteristics, it has the vigor of the Barbe and the nature of the Andalusian. But most important in its heritage is the incredible stride from the Spanish Jennet. In spite of the physical evolution due to breeding practices and the influence of its environment, the Paso Fino has remarkably conserved an amble, genetic characteristic that will last. This is the trait that allows us to identify today's Paso Fino horse.

Quick and comfortable

In an amble, the order in which the hooves are placed is not diagonal; the horse simultaneously raises the front and hind hooves of the same side. In a walk, the amble can be done in four counts, but in a trot it becomes a two-count motion. Like in a normal trot, the bipeds touch down in practically the same moment: front left, hind left, front right, hind right, with a hang time between each contact. In a normal trot, the rider must rise up to stay in the saddle, while in an amble the rider can remain comfortably seated.

Paso Fino horse, photo © H. DossenbachBesides the walk and the gallop, the Paso Fino has several gaits: the paso fino, the paso corto and the paso largo, from slowest to quickest. We must remember that these gaits are natural to this particular breed. The paso fino is a rhythmic step often used in parades or presentations. A four-count step, it is accentuated by the horse's tendency to compact the body and to advance only minimally with its front legs. The paso largo, a quicker gait, involves longer strides and a rapid tempo.

The corto, which provides a speed relative to that of the trot, is very comfortable for the rider and a well-trained Paso Fino can continue this gait for hours. We must note that the Paso Fino horse is perhaps the ideal mount for those who suffer with back pain and injured vertebra.

Many expositions and competitions at all levels are organized each year in the U.S., in Puerto Rico and in the Dominican Republic.

Characteristics of the Paso Fino horse

Breed Paso Fino
Origin Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela.
Height at the withers 1,42 à 1,54 m (14 to 15 ½ hands)
Build Middle length
Colors All varieties are accepted.
Character Calm and alert
Capacity Saddle horse
Qualities Intelligent, hard-working and resistant. Elegant and attractive.
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Criadero Santa Maria has been breeding Paso horses from Latin America, the Paso Peruano horse and Paso Fino horse in France (Yonne, Bourgogne) since 1975.
These animals are the offspring of champions and horses of pedigree from Peru, Colombia or the USA. They are experienced and internationally famous.

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