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Paso Fino Horse Breed: Gaits, Origins, and Characteristics

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Paso Fino horses are well known for their gaited travel and refined looks. Besides these qualities, I didn’t know much else about the breed, so I decided to do some research to learn as much as I could about these beautiful animals.

Paso Fino’s are gentle, powerful, and athletic horses that make excellent trail riding companions for any level rider. Paso Fino horses have three gaits, the Classic Fino, the Paso Corto, and the Paso Largo. The paces are distinguished by stride length and speed.

The beautiful Paso Fino breed provides unmatched comfort and smoothness to its rider. There are also other interesting facts about the Paso Fino horse to learn about besides their gait.

Paso Fino breed characteristics

Paso Fino horses are beautiful, but more importantly, they have all the characteristics desired in a riding horse, in addition to their alluring appearance.

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Paso Finos has a calm temperament. Paso Fino horses have all the qualities an equestrian could want in a horse. They are known to be social animals with loyalty to their owners and riders.

Their loyalty exhibits when they train and work. They want to please their rider, so they work hard to succeed. And although they have a calm demeanor, they are quick and responsive when working.

These attributes make Paso Finos easy to train and great companions. They make the perfect horse for all levels of riders. Advanced riders will appreciate the fearlessness and athletic ability of the Paso Fino, and less experienced riders are comfortable trail riding with their calm companion.


Paso Fino horses come in just about every equine color. The most common are bay, chestnut, brown, and sorrel. The other colors accepted by the Paso Fino Association for registration are gray, grulla, black, palomino, cremello, dun, roan, pinto, buckskin, and perlino.

You can check out this article to read more about specific horse colors. You can also click on this link to see pictures of various horse coat colors from the Paso Fino Association.

Paso Fino’s height and weight

Paso Finos aren’t tall; the average height of a Paso Fino is 14.1 hands. However, you can find Paso Finos ranging from 13.1 hands to 15.5 hands tall. These horses, although of a smaller size, have no problem carrying heavy men.

And although Paso Fino’s can carry heavy loads at great speeds, they are smaller horses. Most weigh about 800 pounds, but they can weigh between 700 and 1,000 pounds.

Paso Fino horses fit any level of rider.

Paso Finos are powerful athletic horses without a lot of health issues. They have excellent temperaments and are built sturdy. They are easy to keep and are versatile enough to enjoy on the trail or in the show ring.

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Paso Fino horses are gaited.

Gaited horse’s feet hit the ground in a 4-beat pattern. All horses travel with a footfall pattern. A horse that is not gaited moves his rear leg and opposing front leg at the same time during a trot.

When a horse switches legs, there is a drop before his next two feet hit the ground. A normal movement would be two legs down, then four legs up, and the opposite two legs on the ground.

In the space of switching legs, the horse’s body drops a short distance. The up and down caused by this action is jarring to a rider. A gaited horse’s feet hit the ground independently of each other in a four-beat pattern.

The foot beat pace creates a smoother ride because a gaited horse always has one foot on the ground, preventing its body from dropping in between footfalls.

Gaited horses commonly have longer hind legs and better endurance than non-gaited horses. Now that you know something about gaited horses, let’s look at the gaits that make the Paso Fino horse unique.

The Paso Fino is naturally gaited.

A young foal will display its gait within just a few days of birth. Before we get too deep into the specifics of the breed’s gait, it’s essential to know some basics about horse gaits.

Paso Fino Horses have three gaits.

This breed has three gaits, the classic, the Paso Coto, and the Paso Largo. Each of these gaits has the same footfall pattern but differing speeds.

The order their feet hit the ground is left hind, left front, right hind, and right front. The spacing of the feet should be even and steady.

In all their gaits, the rider should appear to be gliding in the saddle; you shouldn’t perceive any up and down movement.

1. Classic gait

The classic gait is the standard Paso Fino movement and is the standard used for judging. The horses work their feet up and down rapidly like pistons while keeping their bodies under control and heads held high atop an arched neck.

They advance very slowly. The beat of their feet is even and rhythmic, and it is impressive to witness. Unlike other gaited competitive horses, Paso Finos has no special equipment to force its unique movement.

2. Paso Corto

Paso Corto gait is the speed of a non-gaited horse’s trot it covers ground faster than the classic gait but still provides a smooth ride. In this gait, a horse travels at the speed of a non-gaited horse’s trot.

The gait is renowned for pleasure and trail riding but is also seen in competition. The competitive Corto gait is performed faster and is more compact than the leisure version of the gait.

The foot pattern and smoothness of the ride remain the same in competition and pleasure.

3. Paso Largo

A horse can travel 22 mph in the Paso Largo gait. Horses travel the fastest in this gait. The Paso Largo gait requires an extension of stride while maintaining the same even footfall pattern.

In competitive Paso Largo, horses keep their bodies under control, hold their heads in the proper position, and create a smooth ride while transporting a rider up to 22 miles an hour. This is quite an accomplishment.

(The Colombian Paso horses have many gaits and gait variations that are not covered in this article. However, you can read about the gaits of the Colombian Paso here.)

Peruvian Paso’s and Paso Fino horses are different.

The horses have little in common besides Paso in their names. The Paso Finos originated and developed in either Puerto Rico, Colombia, Dominican Republic, or Cuba. The Peruvian Paso is a purebred from Peru.

Although both breeds are gaited, their actions are different. The Peruvian is a lateral, gaited animal that takes a longer, more relaxed stride than the Paso Fino.

The conformation between the two breeds is different. The Peruvian Paso has a short back and well-developed laid-back shoulders with a low-set tail that he tucks between his buttocks while working. Peruvian Paso horses have a high rate of degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis.

The Paso Fino tail is held higher, with a smaller, less laid-back shoulder, and they have a shorter coupling than the Peruvian Paso. The two breeds also differ in training and how they are shown in competitions.

Origin of the Paso Fino horse breed.

The modern Paso Fino originated in Puerto Rico from Spanish stock brought to the island in 1493. The foundation stock was a mixture of some of the most beautiful horses in Spain at the time.

The horses included bloodlines from Barb, Andalusian, and Jennet, a light-gaited horse with high endurance. More horses were bred with the foundation stock creating a new breed through the years known as the Paso Fino.

The horses spread to Cuba, Colombia, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. With each area breeding for specific equestrian needs. The gait was a desired trait, and through selective breeding, it was perfected.

Peruvian Paso

Paso Fino’s trace their ancestry to a common stud.

However, it wasn’t until late in the 19th century that cross-breeding resulted in the birth of the great stallion Dulce Sueno. Dulce Sueno is the modern-day breed’s father, and most pure-bred Puerto Rican Paso Fino horses can trace their pedigree to him.

There are some Puerto Rican Paso Finos that have unique eye colors. called “tiger eye.” “Tiger-eye” is characterized by a bright yellow, amber, or orange iris.

The breed finally made it to the United States sometime after World War II. American soldiers stationed in Puerto Rico got to know and love the unique breed. After their return home, they began importing horses from Puerto Rico.

How Much does Paso Fino Horse Cost?

Paso Finos are a unique and desirable horse breed. They’re not common in my area, so I was curious about how much one costs, so I decided to do some research to find out.

Paso Fino’s are reasonably priced; they go from $1,500 and up. The price depends on the horses’ pedigree, age, training, health, geographic area, and the seller’s motivation. Well-trained Paso Finos from desired bloodlines are sold for significantly more than $1,500

Price is only one consideration when buying one of these elegant horses; you should also be familiar with the breed’s characteristics, especially conformation standards and bloodlines.

Ride the horse before you decide to buy him; take your saddle, saddle the horse yourself, and sit on his back. Make sure he moves well and shows no sign of lameness.

Of course, check his feet and teeth. I wrote an article you can read about what we learn from a horse’s teeth that may help. Be cautious of horses being sold too cheap.

Often they have bad habits or health problems. It is strongly advised that you have any animal you consider buying checked by a veterinarian.

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By Arsdelicata, CC BY-SA 3.0,

How Much Weight Can a Paso Fino Carry?

When I recently saw a Paso Fino, I noticed how well the horse was put together. Their overall conformation looks extraordinarily sturdy and made me wonder how much weight the horse could carry.

Paso Finos can easily carry a rider that weighs 25% of its body weight, which is powerful. For comparison, most horse breeds shouldn’t carry any more than 20% of their body weight.

Although they are small in stature, their short coupling and strong legs allow these horses to carry more weight than similarly sized animals. Their body is built for carrying heavy loads.

Paso Fino takes short steps and has strong legs. Taking short strides keeps his legs under himself, creating a solid foundation. This breed can carry more weight a further distance than a more massive quarter horse or thoroughbred.