Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Peruvian Paso Horse Breed

While perusing the indoor stalls at the Western States Horse Expo, my son and I found a couple of horses that were being tacked up for a breed presentation. I was enamored with the uniqueness and beauty of their saddles.

This gentleman took time out from his busy show schedule to tell us about the breed of these horses: Peruvian Paso.

Peruvian Paso horses do not trot. They have a very unique gait in which their front legs move quickly from side to side, sort of like a swimmer doing the breast stroke. It is a natural, four-beat, lateral ambling gait between the walk and the canter. "Lateral gait" means that it has four equal beats and is performed laterally - left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore. The Peruvian Paso performs two variations of the four-beat gait. The first, the paso llano (a contraction of Paso Castellano), is isochronal, meaning that there are four equal beats in a 1-2-3-4 rhythm. The second gait, the sobreandando, is faster. Instead of four equal beats, the lateral beats are closer together in a 1-2, 3-4 rhythm, with the pause between the forefoot of one side to the rear of the other side is longer.

This gait can cover long distances in a short period of time without tiring out the horse or rider. Peruvian Pasos are a good choice of breed for riders with back problems, because the gait is smooth and does not require posting.

The breeding stock for the Peruvian Paso link back to the horses brought over during the Spanish Conquest but mostly after 1542.

For the Peruvian Paso presentation, the riders rode along the length of a wooden platform so that the audience could listen to the cadence of that special Peruvian Paso gait. It was a beautiful sound.

Peruvian Pasos are used for pleasure, trail, parades, shows, and endurance riding.


BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I got to ride a Peruvian Paso once. It was AMAZING! My hair was flying out behind me, but my body never moved. Certainly one of the coolest rides I have ever taken.

Rising Rainbow said...

I've met this breed of horse. They're very intersting. They sure look smooth.

Flying Lily said...

What neat horses. What is that strap going from the back of the saddle around their hind legs? Functional or decorative?

Pony Girl said...

When I was a teen I loved these horses (never seen or riden one in person, though.) I was always in awe of their unique tack, and long manes and tails. I wonder what their temperments are like? I haven't heard of them being used much as trail horses (at least not like Walkers and fox trotters), which is interesting, considering they have a smooth gait.

sue said...

I have SO been enjoying your blog... I am learning so many new things!! thanks for the great pics and all the wonderful information...... best wishes

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Browneyed and Rising - Riding a gaited horse is something I hope to do someday.

Lily - Here's what I found about that strap:
The Crupper (Batacola) encircles tail and buckles to back of saddle to hold it securely in position.

The tail cover (Tapacola) and trimmings (Retrancas) serve purposes indicated by names. Straps swing around each side above hocks and buckle to saddle.

So, the top portion is functional while the hanging portions are decorative.

Pony Girl - The horses I met didn't get rattled by much, but then again they were show horses. My son had to jump up and down and wave a bag around just to get the attention of one so that we could take its picture with its ears forward. My research says that Peruvian Paso breeders have a history of breeding horses with tractable dispositions and a willingness to please.

Sue - Thank you. I'm glad you are enjoying it.

Twinville said...

I love te beauty and uniqueness of these paso horses. I watched a special not long ago about pasos and was impressed with their smooth gait.

And those roomy endurance stirrups are dreamy! They are the size of dinner plates and look so comfy!

Thanks for sharing your pics and talks with that nice man, too.