Peruvian Paso - Not a Paso Fino
Not a Paso Fino
by Verne & Pat Albright
There has been a great deal of publicity lately which misleads the public Into thinking that the Peruvian Paso horse is a "strain" of Paso Flno. The majority of this publicity has come from Paso Fino promoters and some has even come from officials of Paso Rna organizations.
Unfortunately, this has added to the confusion in the public mind about the differences between these two breeds. As much as any other cause, the presence of the word "paso" in the name of each breed seems to have been responsible for the initial confusion. The Board of Directors of the American Association of Owners and Breeders of Peruvian Paso Horses has become so concerned by this problem that It has resolved to refer to its breed as the "Peruvian horse," deleting the word "Paso" In all association sponsored publicity and publications.
They hope that this will lesson the confusion, but of course it will not as long as some promoters represent the Peruvian horse as a "strain" of Paso Fino.
The Paso Fino organizations have opened their registries and their shows to Peruvian horses. Personally, I cannot understand their decision to do this except that, of course, it adds to their numbers and income. Equine historian Lyn Slocum who has owned, raised and worked with both breeds, says, "Through my research and personal experience I have found very little similarity between the Paso Flno and the Peruvian."
One similarity is that they are gaited somewhat alike. This provides no basis for calling them the same breed any more than the quarter horse and the Arabian are the same breed simply because both trot.
Peruvlan horses are encouraged to take longest stride possible, while Paso Finos are taught to take short steps.
Anyone who studies the Paso Fino and the Peruvian will find great differences in their size, conformation, way of going, gear. training methods, and historical uses. Also "termino" [a swimming motion In the forelegs] is highly desired and universal in the Peruvian breed while it is somewhat rare and generally considered undesirable in the Paso Fino.
The Peruvian and Paso Fino breeds are related, but even four centuries ago the relationship was distant. They both came from Spain. The countries which developed the horses known in the United States as Paso Finos were basically Puerto Rico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, all wtth borders on the Caribbean Sea and located wtthln o radius of approximately 500 miles.
These countries received their foundation bloodstock from the breeding operations set up by the Spanish on the islands in the Caribbean Sea. Pizarro, who brought the first horses to Peru from the Caribbean islands, took war horses, not breeding stock. They were mostly trotting horses. The foundation breedlng stock was brought to Peru directly from Spain by Spanish noblemen and political authorities durlng Peru's colonial period when Lima was the center of Hispanic America.
So the original relationship was distant at best, and it was further widened by the fact that, with the single exception of Peru, every American nation which raised easy gaited horses injected other blood by crossing them at some point with some other breed. The Peruvian horse, olded by geography, history, and the convictions of breeders In Peru, has been a pure breed without outside influence for over four centuries.
Aided by geography and the convictions of Peruvian breeders, these horses have been bred pure for over four centuries.
Again quoting Lyn Slocum, "Over the years two distinctly different breeds have evolved, each with different qualities and abilities to offer... What Is looked for in the two different breeds is almost diametrically opposed. For example, one of the primary objectives of the Peruvian's training is to cause him to take the longest stride possible. What the most well respected, blue ribbon quality Paso Fino Is taught, from very early In Its training, is maximum collection with rapid, short steps and little advance. As a result of these two very different ends being sought, the two breeds have developed entirely different conformation."
I believe that it is important to note that in the 17 years I have been involved with the Peruvian breed, I have never met or heard of a major Peruvian horse breeder or authority in Peru or the United States who believes there is anything more than minor similarity between the two breeds.
I encourage the public to get to know the Peruvian Paso and the Paso Flno by attending their approved shows and visiting the major breeding farms of both breeds. This will allow people to see the differences first hand. I agree wholeheartedly with Lyn Slocum who has said, "A good horse is o good horse is a good horse, and a good Peruvian is a good horse and a good Paso Fino is a good horse." But each breed has Its own different merits to offer.
This article was originally published in Issue ~12 of Horse Women Magazine in 1979.