WHAT IS A PASO FINO?
Why are they special?
The most significant way a Paso Fino horse is different from
other horses is its natural, genetically inherited, smooth four
beat gait that can be performed at varying speeds. This
gives the rider a smooth, comfortable, mile after mile, "no
bounce" ride. This is what the horses have been bred for for
500 years and why they are treasured.
What are the gaits?
The Paso gait is essentially a walk but it can increase in
speed, extension or contraction into various "gaits" with
different names for varying forward speeds. The sequence of
the hooves is: right rear, right fore, left rear, left fore. The
hind foot touches the ground a fraction of a second before
the front foot. When performed on a hard surface, a definite
rhythm of 1,2,3,4 can be heard. Propulsion is primarily from
behind yet the motion is absorbed through the back and
loins. The croup remains relatively still. The fact that there
are often three feet touching the ground and the legs move
independently from each other gives the rider little to no up
and down movement. For some reason this gait is often
called a lateral gait to distinguish it from the diagonal Trot.
But the Pace is a lateral gait and the Paso Fino is in between
the two with an even four beat footfall, each leg separate.
This gait is natural and the horses can be seen doing it from
birth. We (humans) have delineated this "gait" into three
"speeds" or lengths of step. Two of these are natural to all
The Corto (or Paso Corto) is considered the preferred Paso
Fino gait. It is what a trot is to other horses and about the
same speed. This is the most commonly used gait of the
Paso Fino horse on the trail.
The Largo (Paso Largo) is the extended version of the gait,
with faster steps and more extension it can cover the ground
with a lot of speed.
The Classic Fino gait is characterized by a very fast footfall
with very little extension or forward movement and it
requires a high degree of collection. This gait is natural to
only a few Paso Finos and is usually reserved for the show
ring or exhibitions. The rare Paso Finos that can do this are
treasured as it is the most difficult, most beautiful and the
most unique of gaits. A true Fino requires low lift of the feet
and a very short step with very fast execution. The
Champion Fino Stallion Capuchino was said to have 126
beats per minute and a 4 inch extension. When heard on a
sounding board, the steps can blend into a rolling sound like
a machine gun, or a drum roll.
The difference between the Divisions (Pleasure, Performance
and Fino) is the amount of collection used and the execution
of the action. A Pleasure style Paso Fino will work in light
collection, easily, with a light rein and must look fun to ride
with excellent manners and disposition. The rider should
appear almost motionless in the saddle, and the transitions
between the required gaits (walk, corto and largo) should be
smooth and clear.
A Performance style Paso Fino should have excellent Brio
(excitement), can have more or higher action in the front
and back and powerful clearly defined hock execution. They
perform with a high degree of collection and need charisma
for the show ring. These are exciting horses to watch and
the rider should be motionless in the saddle, the transitions
should be fluid but the manners are not as important as the
energy and ambition of the horse.
The Classic Fino must be performed in almost complete
collection, have perfect balance, clarity of gait, and very
quick footfall. They should have excellent conformation, a
lot of charisma and grace as well as excellent manners and
Brio. These are the ultimate show horses of the breed and
the most valued breeding stock.
A very versatile horse.
Aside from showing, Paso Finos are actually used primarily
for trail riding. Because the entire purpose of the breed is to
have a smooth ride over 90% of owners ride their horses,
even the big show horses. They also excel at endurance
riding, driving, horse sports like team penning, barrel racing,
reining, gymkhana, hunting, drill teams, mounted shooting
competitions, horse soccer and field dog trials. Some have
been used for cutting and roping and there is a Western
Pleasure class at our shows. In Germany Paso Finos
compete in their own version of Dressage. Some love to
jump and we have one class with a jump required. They are
raced at the shows here and in Puerto Rico at the Largo with
penalties for going out of gait. These horses were bred both
for covering ground quickly and comfortably and for climbing
mountains. They are extremely agile and balanced.
All Paso Finos walk and when you consider that their other
"gaits" are faster walks they walk a lot. Paso Finos also
canter and gallop like any horse and can be taught a nice
easy western lope. Most Paso Finos can be made to do a
broken version of a trot called Troche (still a four beat gait
and smooth) which is not encouraged. (After all you can get
another kind of horse if you want to trot.) The only Show
use so far of this gait is for dressage in Germany.
Paso Finos come in virtually every color including the more
rare colors like Pinto, Palomino, Buckskin, Dun, Cremello
and Grullo. Most of the great show horses have, however,
been Bay, Chestnut or Grey (white) and some Black. The
range of possible sizes of Paso Finos is great, from 13 hands
to almost 16 hands though the vast majority of them will be
between 13.2 to 15 hands. They are neither fragile nor
prissy and like all Spanish horses they are "forward" and
blessed with almost limitless energy. Also known for their
willingness and curiosity they are very people friendly.
Areas We Service
- Los Angeles
- Shadow Hills
- La Crescenta
- La Canada Flintridge
- North Hollywood
- Sun Valle
- San Fernando Valley
- Toluca Lake
- Beverly Hills
- Lake View Terrace
- Van Nuys
- Sherman Oaks