Ancestors of the Puerto Rican Paso Fino horse were first brought to the island of Puerto Rico by Columbus, with later introductions by Juan Ponce de León. Several Iberian breeds, including Andalusians, Spanish Barbs, and the now extinct Spanish Jennet contributed to the modern Puerto Rican Paso Fino, which was developed through hundreds of years of breeding and selection. Some breeders feel that the Spanish Jennet was the main contributor of the breed’s unique gait.
The breed is valued for its 4-beat gait in which the hooves strike the ground in a quick 1-2-3-4 movement, resulting in the “paso fino,” the “fine step” from which the breed gets its name. This gait is performed at three speeds: the Classic Fino, a collected gait where the horse almost seems to dance in place; the Paso Corto, a medium, trot-like gait that the horse can maintain for long days of riding; and the Paso Largo, a fast, ground-covering gait. This is a natural gait that Paso Finos can perform from birth.
The paso fino gait is also so smooth that Paso Fino horses are a good choice for riders who have back pain or injuries that make riding other breeds uncomfortable.
The breed comes in a variety of colors, from solid to pinto, with and without markings. They range in size from 13-15 hands and weigh from 700-1100 lbs. They usually do not reach their full size until they are five years old. They should have a refined head with a straight profile preferred. They have large, well-spaced, expressive eyes. Ears are close set and curve inward at the tips. They have a gracefully arched neck that is carried high, and a full mane, tail, and forelock. “Tiger eye,” an autosomal recessive genetic trait found only in this breed, can produce a yellow, amber, or orange colored iris in the eye.
Puerto Rican Paso Finos are highly versatile, sure-footed, hardy, and can be used in many equestrian disciplines. They are willing and seem to enjoy interacting with humans. Fewer than 500 of these horses are registered in the United States and fewer than 2,500 are found globally.
In 1987 in Columbia, SC, the Pure Puerto Rican Paso Fino Federation of America, Inc. was incorporated to preserve, protect, and promote the Pure Puerto Rican Paso Fino horse in America. In Puerto Rico, the breed is regulated by the Paso Fino Office of the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture through the Purebred Paso Fino Horse of Puerto Rico Agri-Industry Regulation to preserve the purity of the breed. Purebred horses are those that have not been mixed with other horse breeds, especially Colombian Paso Finos.
Did you know:
The Livestock Conservancy writes, publishes, and sells books to help educate heritage breeders. Your membership dollars help us develop resources for farmers, ranchers, and shepherds across America. Click here to browse the shelves of our online bookstore.
You may be interested in…