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Paso Fino- The horse with the fine step

Let me take you travelling through time . We will travel to Spain in 1493. Christopher Columbus is just about to leave the country for his second journey to the New World, he takes with him some of the finest horses of his time: The elegant Andalusian, the hardy Barb and the comfortable Jenett.

Reaching the New World Columbus and his men are faced by many new challenges, the land they have to explore and to colonize is of immense proportions.

Years later huge farms are founded, the so called Haciendas, and large herds of cattle are the wealth of the new landowners. In Europe carriages are taking over more and more. However, the routes through South America’s wilderness are much narrower than the roads of Europe. Spending 12 or more hours a day in the saddle these New World farmers and landowners cultivate something that is more and more repressed in Europe – El Caballo con el Paso Fino (the horse with the fine step)

This fine step is something many horses could do some hundreds of years ago, but which has got lost in Europe with the development of the carriage and more and more military orientated riding, therefore,  more and more use of the trot. The fine step is something we have no word for, it can only be described as: an isochronal four beat gait, how much nicer is the Spanish version: Paso Fino!

So what is a Paso Fino and how is it that they find more and more friends and enthusiasts (Aficionados, as the South Americans say) so far away from their native countries of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Caribbean?

The Paso Fino is a small horse with a big personality, measuring between 14 and 15 hands it still has the size and build of the horses of origin, before mankind started to breed them bigger. Their special four beat gait, which makes them so sought-after, has the foot fall of a walk but is much quicker, so it covers the ground at the speed of a trot or faster and how comfortable it is! Whilst the horses legs are moving very quickly, the body of the horse and,  therefore, the rider is not moving at all. No bounce as in trot, just a slight wiggle, which is so comfortable, you can serve champagne without spilling a drop (or drink it, which is much nicer). With no bounce and no rising to the trot, this horse has found many friends amongst the riders that cannot (or do not want) to ride the trot anymore, having pain in back, hips or knees.

To understand the special personality of the Paso Fino we must again go back to South America. The Columbian man is macho – he wants his horse to be a good representative, stunning in looks and movement and looking as if it is about to explode, but he is also a father of a family – so this same horse that has to look as if it might explode every second must carry his wife to church on Sundays, as well as his children to school on weekdays. So what the Columbians did is a little bit of squaring the circle. They invented a horse that looks beautiful, sparkling, full of energy and sensitivity, but at the same time easy to handle, always light in the riders hand and willing to work, eager to please. The South Americans call that special attitude “Brio”, which is often translated with “spirit”. But one can’t really explain it, one has to experience it. So come for a ride on the world’s smoothest riding horse. It is possible not only in South America, but here in England and what an experience it is!