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The Peruvian Paso Horse

Though its South American roots trace back over four centuries, the Peruvian Paso is one of the newest horse breeds in North America. The first importations occurred just over 30 years ago and since that time the breed has caught fire with admirers.

The history of the Peruvian Paso horse dates back to the Spanish conquest of the New World with none other than Christopher Columbus establishing a stud in Jamaica in 1493, and to horses brought to the region now known as Peru by Francisco Pizarro in 1532. These horses were the finest then known to European horsemen, Andalusians -- a careful blend of Iberian and Barb blood.

The Peruvian history of the breed follows a constant course. He was first and foremost a safe and comfortable mount, used both for surveying vast tracks of plantation land and for carrying his rider safely from one settlement to another. The geography of Peru, from rugged mountains to fertile valleys, lent to different types of horses being developed, yet all were descended from the same parent stock. There is much controversy over which, if any, other bloodlines contributed to the modern Peruvian Paso.

Well-muscled, yet refined

Peruvian Pasos mature between 14 and 15.2 hands tall, should be well-
muscled yet appear refined. Deep expressive eyes give the Peruvian his soulful countenance. The neck is medium in length and somewhat heavier than that of most light breeds, with a noble arch and crest. The mane, forelock and tail are characteristically long and full. A long, sloping shoulder, open at the elbow allows for free and graceful movement of the front legs. The chest and heart girth are deep, wide and muscular. The croup is rounded, sloping into a low tail set. The tail appears "tucked in."

Solid colors with dark skin are traditional, with bay, black, brown, buckskin, chestnut, dun, gray, grulla, palomino and roan all being acceptable. Heavy white markings and pink skin are undesirable.

Brio is a hallmark

There are several hallmarks of the Peruvian breed. Perhaps most outstanding is brio. This is the natural enthusiasm and energy of the horse that makes him appear fiery. But equally important is the centuries-old gentleness and willingness bred into Peruvian Paso. Many owners say that it was the kind character of the breed that got them "hooked."

The horse has a grand carriage and, of note to gaited horse enthusiasts, classic four-beat gaits -- the paso llano, a slower gait similar to a running walk, and the breathtaking sobreandando, in which the staccato of the beat, the extension of the stride and the thrill of the ride are all heightened.

What sets the Peruvian apart from all other gaited breeds is the inborn trait of termino, a swinging action from the shoulder of the horse that gracefully pulls the foreleg to the side of the stride in order that the back foot can safely and effortlessly stride in or ahead of the front hoof print. It is this unique action, along with the specialized conformation of the Peruvian that provides the rider with the "smoothest ride on earth."


Photos top and bottom: courtesy of:
Walter Henslee
1999

No photos on any pages may be copied or downloaded without the consent of the photographer

To contact the Peruvian Paso Horse Registry of North America write: 3077 Wiljan Court, Suite A
Santa Rosa, CA 95497-5702
Phone:(707) 579-4392
Fax: (707) 579-1038