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Paso Fino Breed Profile

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Often referred to as one of the smoothest riding horses in the world, the Paso Fino horse breed has produced some of the most breathtakingly beautiful horses in the equine world.

Paso fino Horse in the field

Paso Fino horses have a natural gait that the unique only to their specific breed. Riding a Paso Fino is said to be one of the smoothest rides some equestrians have ever experienced.

Origins of the Paso Fino Horse Breed

While some people refer to the Paso Fino one of America’s oldest horse breeds, it was created in Latin America.

Christopher Columbus brought several Spanish and North African horse breeds with him on his second trip to the New World all the way back in 1943. These breeds included the Barb, Spanish Jennet, and Andalusian.

Over time, these horses were bred together to craft a new breed that had an extremely smooth gait, an elegant body conformation and an overall exquisite appearance.

They called this final breed the Los Caballos de Paso Fino, which in English simply means the horses with fine steps. (source

What is a Paso Fino?

The Paso Fino horse is a stunningly elegant horse that has an astoundingly smooth gait and a compact, yet balanced body. They are medium-sized horses with small, slender heads.

Paso Finos were bred for strength, capability, sophistication and smoothness. Today, the breed continues to reflect its Spanish heritage in its graceful performances in a wide variety of events, dominating arenas across America and the world.

Breed History

Paso Finos were once only extremely popular in Latin America. In the 1940s, American servicemen first discovered the horse breed and the secret was out. They could not deny the absolute beauty and ability of this unique horse breed.

In the mid-1940s, America began importing both the Puerto Rican Paso Fino and later, in the 1960s, began importing the Columbian Paso Fino.

Yes, there were technically two different varieties of the Paso Fino depending on the country they originated from, but the differences in the breeds were very minimal.

At their core, the breeds were almost the same. Once they were bred together for several years, the two breed varieties merged into what many equestrians refer to as the American Paso Fino, or simply the Paso Fino. (source)

All Paso Finos have the natural Paso Fino gait, a trait that is unique to the breed, regardless of what Latin country their distinct bloodline originated from.

Paso Fino Registries

Paso Fino Horse Association

The Paso Fino Horse Association, the PFHA, was created in 1972 to manage the newly popular breed that had made its way to the United States. Today, the association boasts an impressive 3500 members and approximately 60,000 registered Paso Fino horses!

The association’s goal is to ‘’represent the Paso Fino horse to the American public’’ and they accomplish that goal daily. The PFHS sponsors horse shows, riding demonstrations, trail rides and training clinics.

They publish the Paso Fino World magazine that helps to teach us all about the Paso Fino breed and all its abilities within the equine world.

American Paso Fino Horse Association

Established in 1964, the American Paso Fino Horse Association (APFHA) was originally called the American Paso Fino Pleasure Horse Association.

Their main goal is to “advance the Paso Fino, primarily through the operation of a registry, breeder, member and breed promotion”.

Today they offer a Performance program as well as a Breeder Incentive option along with a trail program called Miles of Smiles.  

Characteristics of the Paso Fino Horse

Gait

The Paso Fino is probably most well-known for its unique and completely natural four-beat gait. Each hoof will hit the ground independently but in exact intervals, creating an even, quick and smooth rhythmic gait.

The Paso Fino gait is so smooth that riders should look motionless as they ride a Paso Fino horse without any evidence of a rise or fall.

There are 3 distinct speeds of the Paso Fino gait including the Classic Fino, Paso Corto, and the Paso Largo, each becoming progressively faster. Paso Finos can walk, lope and canter as well, just like other horses. (source)

Colors

Paso Fino horses can be any equine color including chestnut, bay, buckskin, palomino, pinto, black, roan, sorrel, white, or cream. They may or may not have white markings on their faces or legs.  

Temperament

The Paso Fino horse breed has a reputation for producing docile, even-tempered horses that possess a true willingness to please their owner.

They thrive on companionship and are often spirited but listen well when being ridden. Paso Finos are easy to work with and many of them are recommended for novice riders. (source)

Paso Fino and its owner

Height

Paso Finos are not an extremely tall horse, only reaching somewhere between 13 and 15.2 hands. On average, Paso Fino horses will only reach between 13.3 and about 14.2 hands! (source)

Weight

Most Paso Finos weigh between 7000 and 1000 pounds. They will typically not reach their adult weight until they are 5 years old. They are classified as a medium-sized horse. (source)

Grooming Needs

Paso Finos have long flowing manes and tails that require regular brushing and grooming. Steady brushing and detangling as well as the use of conditioner will keep a Paso Fino horse’s luscious mane and tail as gorgeous as possible.  

Health

Most well cared for Paso Finos remain healthy for their entire lives. Unfortunately, some Paso Finos will fall victim to some genetic diseases. Equine metabolic syndrome can occur in the Paso Fino breed more often than some other breeds.

This syndrome results in laminitis and obesity. Equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy and endocrine-related disorders are also more commonly found in the Paso Fino breed than other popular horse breeds. (source)

Paso Fino Life Span

The average life span of a Paso Fino horse is between 25 and 30 years old, like most modern horse breeds. It is important to note that some Paso Finos have been known to live up to 40 years old!

Common Uses / Disciplines

Paso Finos are used in a wide variety of disciplines and equine sports. They are often easy to train, docile and extremely intelligent. Paso Fino horses excel not only in the show ring, but also in the rodeo arena and on the trail.

Paso Fino horses tend to do extremely well Western show classes, team penning, cow sorting, endurance rides, trail riding, drill team and Pleasure Driving. (source)

Prices

The price of a purebred Paso Fino horse can range drastically between practically nothing and $100,000! High quality show horses that compete at the international level tend to go for the 5 and 6 figure totals.

Paso Fino horses that are best for pleasure riding, trail riding, or small shows can easily cost below $8,000, depending on their bloodlines.

Sometimes you may even be able to find some Paso Fino horses for free or just a few hundred dollars, although they may need additional training. (source)

Breed Criticism

Paso Fino horses are famous for their unique Paso Fino gait, however, many equestrians simply write-off the breed because of their ‘strange-looking’ gait.

Unbeknownst to many horse riders, Paso Finos are very capable of walking, loping, and cantering just like other horse breeds. They are not simply confined to the show ring, Paso Fino horses are able to successfully compete in a variety of horse sporting events that do not involve their special gait. (source)

Great Option for Older Riders

Paso Fino horses are an excellent option for almost any rider, but their size and smooth gait make them ideal for riders of certain ages.

Older riders or riders that have back problems often find Paso Fino horses to be easier to ride than other horse breeds.

The Paso Fino horse’s smooth natural gait does not bounce riders around in the saddle as much as other horses do. Their shorter size and calm demeanor also help make most Paso Finos easy to handle, especially for other or injured riders.

Differences between a Paso Fino and a Peruvian Paso

Many people often mistakenly believe that the Paso Fino and Peruvian Paso horse breeds are closely related, however, the truth is they are two distinctly different breeds. While they both come from Spanish bloodstock, they differ in size, gait and country of origin.

Paso Fino and a Peruvian Paso
 Paso FinoPeruvian Paso
Country of OriginPuerto Rico/ColumbiaPeru
Average Height13.3-14.214.1-15.2 hands
Average Weight700-1000 pounds900-1,100 pounds
ConformationMedium-sized, strong, muscularLarge, wide frame, deep chest, heavy neck
Official GaitPaso FinoPaso Llano

Conclusion

The Paso Fino horse breed produces countless versatile, elegant and smooth riding horses that not only excel in the show ring, but also can dominate the rodeo circuit, cattle arena, and the trail! Their gait is unlike any other horse and they can be the smoothest riding horse an equestrian has ever experienced. They are not only great horses for experienced, athletic riders, but are also great options for senior riders, novice riders or those with back disorders. Beyond their easy gait, lies a horse that just as strikingly beautiful as they are strong and athletic.

April Lee

I've owned horses for 25 years and have a particular love for gentling wild horses. I write these articles to help others learn more about horses. If you enjoyed the article please take a moment to pin it to Pinterest or share on social media. It really does help! Check out my about page for more detailed information.