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Looking at Paso Finos--what do I need to know?

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  • Looking at Paso Finos--what do I need to know?

    I've always been intrigued by Paso Finos, and the ones I see while horse camping just like like so much fun, so I've decided to finally go look at some!

    So anybody that's familiar with them give me the scoop--the good, the bad and the ugly.

    I'm mainly looking for a brave, comfortable trail partner--I'm sick of trotting! .

    I board right next to a lovely county park that I want to finally take full advantage of. I would also like to perhaps get into mounted orienteering or competitive trail riding (shorter distances.)

    While most recently I've done dressage and fox hunting, I grew up gaming and still love riding my friend's gaming horses, so I'm used to a horse that needs a light touch that has a lot of go!


  • #2
    What cool horses! The one thing I learned in all my hoof training and research is that some Paso lines are predisposed to DSLD (or EPSA), so I'd just do plenty of research and pick a good line with strong feet and legs.

    I believe Peruvian Pasos are more commonly affected than Paso Finos, but both breeds have shown tendencies toward developing it.

    I trimmed 2 Pasos during my classes with DSLD and it's a truly devestating disease.

    If you talk to breeders, I am sure they can point you toward solid lines that are least likely to develop DSLD.

    If you google "paso fino DLSD" you can turn up tons of info. I remember an article The Horse magazine did recently so you could go to their site and serach for the article.


    • #3
      Love Them!

      Having owned half a dozen Paso Finos in the past 10 years, I’m happy to give you my opinion – and that’s all that it is.

      Buying a PF will either be your absolute ‘dream come true’ horse, or your worst nightmare ‘what have I done” horse. There is that much difference in the breed. The most important consideration is what will you be using the horse for. It sounds like you are a recreation rider interested in fun, relaxing trail rides. If so, avoid purchasing too hot of horse at all costs. That is often not very fun for someone just looking for a smooth, relaxing ride. A show reject from a big barn does NOT a trail horse make.

      While they are out there in good numbers, it still seems to be a little harder to find and purchase a well-gaited, well-trained, easy going trail horse, as opposed to a hotter, more reactive, fire breather. This is especially true for first time buyers who are often sold more horse – or just a different style of horse – than they have asked for.

      I LOVE Paso Finos for trail riding and showing, and will always own one. Or two. Or more. As with most industries, there are great bargains in the Paso Fino market right now.

      While I have not researched the issue, I have personally never come across DSLD in the Paso Fino breed. IMO it is more likely a Peruvian Paso affliction – which I have seen personally in the limited number of Peruvians I’ve known.

      I’ve ridden most breeds of gaited horses, and I have to admit to preferring the Paso Fino over any of them for absolute smoothness and surefootedness (is that a word?). Pasos do not trip like is so often common in TWH and related breeds. A Pasos feet do not need to be grown long, weighted, or padded in any way to produce or refine their gait. (another reason I prefer the breed). I hope you find one you love and have many happy trials. I know I have!


      • #4
        I've never ridden a Paso, nor do I think I have ever seen one on the trail before. But any how. I can say, look and ride a lot of horses. Even though a horse is gaited what is smooth to one person might not necessarily be smooth to another.

        I've only ridden MFT's. One was absolutely to die for. Some have been very nice. Others are ok and then there are some that killed me. I rode two that my back was dying after I rode them.
        Missouri Fox Trotters-To ride one is to own one

        Standardbreds, so much more then a harness racing horse.


        • #5
          Very cute, very forward, surefooted. Not spooky in general. Standing still is not easy

          Watch those pasterns/DSLD as already advised.

          Make sure they really DO have trail miles on them, and don't spaz about getting left by a group, and/or going out alone. The usual


          • #6
            I rode one once a week for a few months and really like the breed. I found them fearless, energetic and extremely responsive BUT I found them too slow. A running walk it fine but it was too slow to really cover ground. She seemed to have one forward gear and nothing else.
            I also ride weekly with a TW and find the same thing. My little arab can run circles around him. I need more forward gearing, more control over the speed and I find the PF and TW just too slow but again great natured, brave and responsive.


            • #7
              Friends of ours have Paso Finos
              Their first 2 lived until mid-20's and mid-30's
              one was very laid back but also conformationally "made by committee"
              the other was very correctly built but also VERY forward - we said he "hovered" even when he was in his 30's and should not have gone as far or as fast - he did it anyway

              Now they have another 2
              one is a rescue, older and severely DSLD, they will probably only get another year or so of carefully managed use
              the other is approx 10yo and even more forward than the last guy

              They appear to be very willing horses as these have learned in a very short time to handle parades, train robberies (with guns-blanks) and all sorts of other events
              but the forward guy dumped his rider (with cause - a deer ran into them) and ran on for another 3 miles before being caught. For him EVERYTHING is a challenge and a cause for "Oh My's"

              Gaits are truly smooth for the correctly built guys, the ones with conformational issues have needed some rider assistance to keep at the gait. As far as I can tell - you will know as soon as you ride them whether their gait is natural or going to take work

              Feet have been very strong

              Generally (from my point of view) tha Paso Fino is a smaller horse 14H and under - getting a taller one takes some looking and their build is also lighter

              The Peruvian Paso tends to be slightly larger 14H-15H and chunkier
              but niether is a heavy horse like a QH

              Lately you are seeing some in the Rescues and tehre is a good source up in NE PA that tends to bring together a fair number of horses for sale

              Best of luck in your search


              • #8
                Hi Leather, I agree with a lot of what has been said here.

                You say you like a light touch and a lot of go, then you are certainly looking in the right direction with a PF!

                I suggest you go pose your questions over here..


                A really great group of folks who's focus is trail riding and pleasure riding PFs, no emphasis on show there.
                I recognized with despair that I was about to be compelled to buy a horse ~
                Edith Somerville and "Martin Ross"

                "Momma" to Tiempo, Tucker and Puff, RIP my beautiful Norman 8/2012


                • #9
                  My mom purchased an older paso a couple of years ago, and he is hot, hot, hot! She had to blindfold him in order to mount ( he did this thing where he would dance and crouch down, just ready to go). But once she was on, he was all business and motored down the trail as fast as his little legs would gait. And, he is in his twenties, LOL! Mom, being fearless in spite of being in her sixites, loves him to death. I refused to ride him!

                  He is a great trail horse. If you're looking for something with a bit of spunk, give them a try. Just remember that older doesn't necessarily mean quieter.
                  One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. - Virginia Woolf


                  • #10
                    I have decided that my PF, Sugar, is an Arab in a gaited horse body

                    Just so's you know...
                    ~ Shannon Hayden ~


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks for all of the information--it helps!

                      Tiempo, I joined that forum.

                      Hopefully I don't get rained/snowed out this weekend and I'll be able to go look at some horses. I will report back afterwards!

                      I know that each horse is an individual, but in general are there PFs that could keep up with a galloping draft cross?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Leather View Post
                        I know that each horse is an individual, but in general are there PFs that could keep up with a galloping draft cross?
                        A drunken tortoise could keep up with my galloping draft cross!
                        "If ever I did not have a horse or dog in my keeping, I should feel I had lost touch with the earth." ~Beryl Markham


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by AEM74 View Post
                          A drunken tortoise could keep up with my galloping draft cross!
                          Good point!

                          I guess I should say keep up with slower gallop, i.e. not a TB that flies.

                          Not for a long distance or anything, I just don't want to be left in the dust if my friends decide to do a little galloping.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Leather View Post
                            Good point!

                            I guess I should say keep up with slower gallop, i.e. not a TB that flies.

                            Not for a long distance or anything, I just don't want to be left in the dust if my friends decide to do a little galloping.
                            Get a Paso Fino who can canter/gallop Mine can, though she's little so it's probably not very fast
                            ~ Shannon Hayden ~


                            • #15
                              I ride a Paso Fino mare I've had three others previously. All the ones I've had were of the mellower type. My current horse is fantastic. They tend to have more 'go' than other horses (I ride with QHs and TWHs). If we want to make good time, I put Jypsi in the front. Her walk is very fast, energetic, and surefooted. She's compact and strong.

                              My husband rides a TWH. Although he walks slower than Jypsi, his gait is a lot faster and incredibly smooth, smoother than my mare. Within each gaited breed there are smoother and rougher horses. The TWHs seem to 'look' more at the trail and place their feet deliberately, while Jypsi seems like her brain works faster and she doesn't miss a beat over any terrian.

                              If I were you I'd check out other gaited breeds, too. I've heard great thing about Rockies And Icelandics.


                              • #16
                                The Paso Fino, like every other soft gaited horse I've ever studied, began life as a "road horse." They were developed to carry a body from here to there between the 16th and 19th Centuries North America (or it's nearby islands) in a reasonable time and in reasonable comfort. It's a mostly distance horse, not a speed horse. Good ones can handle the sorts of obsticles that one might have found during that part of the Age of Horsepower (downed trees, washouts, stream crossings, etc.). They were also sensible in temperment, as riding was often done "solo" and a hot, spooky animal would have been dangerous to the human.

                                In some parts of Central and South America these horses are still used as daily transport for people and light goods.

                                In the U.S. the road horse lost it's job with the development of the auto.

                                By the early '50s the then dominant breed, the TWH, was in serious trouble. It was "rescued" (if I dare use the term) by the develpment of the Big Lick horse, as that was a "crowd pleaser" and made money for breeders, trainers, and exhibitors. So you had two lines develop, the show line of Big Lick horses and the "other TWHs" that continued in the tradition of the road horse. The show horse type came to dominate 'cause that's where the money was.

                                In my research on Paso Finos and Peruvian Pasos in the mid-late '90s I saw a similar development. Since the horses did not have real jobs the only way to make real money was to show them. That required a type of horse that was a crowd pleaser, firery and with a lot of "presence." So that's what got bred a lot 'cause that's what made money for breeders, trainers, and exhibitors. It's my understanding that this "way of doing business" continues to this day.

                                We did not go into the Paso world (Fino or Peruvian) because our goals did not match the dominant goals within those industries.

                                When we researched them the DSLD problem was kind of like the HYPP problem in the QH world. It was known to be an issue among insiders, but it was carefully hidden from the outside world. I am personally well aquainted with three ex-Peruvian breeders who found out about DSLD "the hard way." Each lost a fair amount of money in that term of the School of Hard Knocks. They breed Marchadors today.

                                I did not know that DSLD was an issue with the Paso Fino.

                                IIRC DSLD is a disease that has a rather late onset (6-7 years of age). If I were to look for a Paso Fino as a trail horse I'd likely look for a gelding, more than 7 years old, whose temperment is suitable for the trail. If I were going to select a mare, I'd have to do some bloodline research and see if she were of the "hot" lines or more mellow ones. Remember that with breeding stock it's an evaluation of the horse in front of you AND the line it comes from.

                                The lady we bought our Marchadors from had a lovely Paso Fino gelding that she had trained to handle some of the standard lower level dressage movments (she was German and trained in that style). The horse was a nice mover, but watching the horse do lateral movements Fino was quite a sight. This horse was also a good trail horse (way of going and temperment).

                                Yes, you can find a good Paso Fino but I suspect it will take some time and careful examination of horses offered. The biggest issue will be temperment for the reasons noted above. Be VERY careful of "breed propaganda." Do some of your own research.

                                Good luck in your search.

                                Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                • #17
                                  Huracan Paso Fino

                                  We have one at our barn. Since I don't know anything about PF's, can anyone familiar with these guys tell me about them?


                                  • #18
                                    You might think about also checking out the Missouri Foxtrotter breed. I know someone with the sweetest, nicest PF but she will be the first person to admit that she is always at the back of the ride in a competition. so if you think you might like to do some CTR's you might want a gaited horse of another breed. I've been impressed with the foxtrotters that I've seen and I'm told it's smooth gait and cover ground with less energy used. I haven't ridden one myself. the were bred to be real using horses and make excellent ranch horses.

                                    Bonnie S.


                                    • #19
                                      The Pasos we know can certainly keep up - but then they do canter. Gaiting can be annoying to the non-gaited horse cause the person gaiting has no concept of rating their horse to match the non-gaited horse's pace.

                                      Another fact we noticed in TWH, if they road often enough on hard ground with non-gaited horses, some of them started trotting - seemed to have to do with hearing the cadence.

                                      If everyone keeps a weather eye on each other while riding (as you should anyway) riding gaited and non-gaited horses together works just fine.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Drive NJ View Post
                                        The Pasos we know can certainly keep up - but then they do canter. Gaiting can be annoying to the non-gaited horse cause the person gaiting has no concept of rating their horse to match the non-gaited horse's pace.

                                        Another fact we noticed in TWH, if they road often enough on hard ground with non-gaited horses, some of them started trotting - seemed to have to do with hearing the cadence.

                                        If everyone keeps a weather eye on each other while riding (as you should anyway) riding gaited and non-gaited horses together works just fine.
                                        Sadly, many gaited horse riders do not know how to rate their horse.

                                        A gaited horse will sometime trot not because they "hear the cadence" but because trotting is much less energy intensive that a lateral gait. They are just "following the course of least resistance."

                                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão