A versatile breed, the paso fino has found success in a variety of competitive and recreational pursuits. Its smooth gait, surefooted nature, and remarkable endurance have carved it out a special niche on ranches and in competitive trail riding. It also performs well in gymkhana, bird dog work, and endurance racing, and is able to be trained for a number of disciplines and classes including dressage, team penning, and endurance. Its people-oriented temperament and brio make it an outstanding show horse as well as the perfect companion animal.
The paso fino is a medium-sized horse, ranging in height from 13 to 15.2 hands. It has large, intelligent eyes that are wide-set on a refined and pretty head. Its neck is strong and supportive with a high carriage that smoothly slopes into the back, and its legs are straight with refined bone, shorter cannon bones, and longer forearms. The hooves are tough and durable, and paso finos are rarely shod. The long, flowing mane and tail are distinctive of the breed.
Because of the breed’s natural, four-beat gait, the paso fino does not need to be trained to perform different strides for showing or competition. This enables the breed to be ridden by riders of any age or experience level and makes it an especially popular choice for those who have suffered from back and knee injuries or were told they would never ride again.
The mission of the Paso Fino Horse Association is to protect and maintain the integrity of its registry and the natural characteristics and heritage of the paso fino horse; promote and enhance its appeal and versatility; and provide and support member services. One of the most important aspects of the paso is its natural movement, which provides riders with a unique feeling of connection to the horse. Many say the sensation is similar to what you feel when you hold your baby for the first time. The breed has been praised for its sensitivity to its handlers and is quick to learn. In fact, trainers often find that a horse will pick up a new discipline or activity on its own.
While the Paso Fino is well-suited to a variety of activities, its natural gait and people-oriented temperament have earned it national recognition as an excellent all-around horse. It competes in a variety of classes and disciplines, including Western pleasure, competition trail, and performance. The horse is a natural competitor and demonstrates spirit in gymkhana, but its small size has also made it a popular choice for ranch work.
While the Paso Fino is generally healthy, it has an above-average incidence of degenerative suspensory ligament disease (DSLD), which can lead to lameness and, in severe cases, euthanasia. The veterinary community has not yet discovered the genetics of this condition, but early detection and preventative care are essential to maintaining a healthy equine.