Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Peruvian Paso Horses but Didn't Know Who to Ask
excerpts from Paca Paca, A Sure Cure for the Trots:
by Don West
I have been a full-time admirer (aficionado), owner, breeder, trainer, saddle designer and manufacturer, and promoter of the Paso Horses from Peru for more than fifteen years. For many years I was the largest breeder (owned the largest number of Peruvian Pasos, not weighed the most) in the Rocky Mountain Area. As the creator and manager of the Granadero Syndicate, the most successful and well-known stallion syndication in the breed's history (I syndicated Granadero for $400,000.00), I had an enviable advertising budget to work with. This allowed me to get my "name and number" out in front of the public, which, not surprisingly, led to numerous inquiring phone calls from people interested in finding out more about "the breed.”
Manufacturing and marketing saddles and tack specifically designed for Paso and Spanish horses in North America has dramatically escalated the number of calls I receive. Hardly a day goes by when I don't spend some time on the phone chatting, answering questions, educating (or reeducating) aficionados about our fantastic Peruvian Pasos. I guess it's just one of the (sometimes dubious) benefits you receive from advertising and developing a reputation as an authority on a given subject.
Note: in fact, I have come to realize that free advise is valued as being worth exactly what the questioner pays for it. When I do a seminar, that people pay to attend, they hang on my every word. On the other hand, in the process of selling my saddles and tack, people who have only owned one or two horses in their entire lives, and probably only ride on weekends, will spend hours (if I let them) arguing with me about my answers to their training and saddle fit questions. I can't help but wonder if they behave the same way with their lawyer, with the clock running at $125 per hour?
However, the fact is, I do get to talk with lots of people about Paso horses. I'm continuously amazed (and amused) at how much misinformation still persists, and is being passed around out there. Over time, the questions have taken on a rather familiar ring, falling into recognizable patterns, even revealing the sources of these often repeated myths. They seem to perpetuate our image of eccentricity and the many misunderstandings (and incorrect perceptions) associated with Peruvian Paso horses, keeping us out of the main stream, and blocking our growth in popularity. Like a dark cloud, they seem to hover over our horses image, casting a hazy shadow that hangs over the clear understanding (and acceptance) of Peruvian Pasos in North America. Receiving all these "interesting" questions has stimulated some thought on my part. Let me share with you some of the most "typical" questions...and my answers.
For those of you already acquainted with this breed, these questions will probably come as no surprise. They may even make you smile with recognition. And yet, strangely enough, they keep coming up, over and over again! Somehow, accurate, straight-forward information doesn't seem to be getting out to the general horse public. I have come to think of Peruvian Pasos as the Dr. Pepper of horses; because they are "so misunderstood.” Let's look at these questions, and take a stab at debunking the Peruvian Paso Horse.
Debunking the Peruvian Paso
The most frequently asked question is: How do they differ from Paso Finos?
The most obvious answer-Peruvian Pasos come from Peru! Paso Finos come from a variety of Central American and South American countries (i.e., Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Colombia, etc.) Horses are versatile and adaptable animals. They are used for many purposes. Their form tends to follow their function. From the time the Spanish first introduced horses to the new world, each region had its own special set of circumstances, and thus a somewhat different application for its horses. As you might expect, the horses developed according to their use in those different areas. Consequently, horses from one area tend to be a little different from those of another, in some cases, even identifiable as distinct "breeds." But that answer is a little too simple to just leave it there. Let's try to go a little deeper.
First, Peruvian Pasos and Paso Finos are "cousins,” both descended from the same types of Spanish horses. The first horses brought to the New World were already common in Spain, primarily barb, Andalusian and Spanish Jennet. They both do some form of the paso gait; a broken pace, a lateral four-beat amble. From the point of view of many folks involved with Paso Finos, all Pasos are lumped into one group. To them, the Peruvian Paso is a kind of Paso Fino! In fact, unless they've changed the rules, the Paso Fino Registry will register a Peruvian Paso as a Paso Fino. Today, Peruvian Pasos are being used by some Paso Fino breeders, both in Central America and other parts of South America to add size and quality of gait to their breeding programs. To them (apparently), Peruvian Pasos are just another type of Paso (one that comes from Peru) that they want to incorporate into their breeding programs to get the characteristics they are looking for. However, to the true Peruvian Paso aficionado, the Paso horse from Peru is different enough from his other Fino relatives to be thought of as a separate breed, to warrant a separate registry and a separate following. Let's see why!
When the Conquistadors came to the new world, from Spain, they brought with them their smooth-riding, ambling horses. They were Spanish horses, from the Iberian Peninsula. Try to picture the Conquistadores as 16th century "soldiers of fortune,” traveling around the world and looking for adventure. Naturally, they brought along their own transportation-their favorite horses. In 1494, Christopher Columbus brought horses to the Americas on his second voyage. To provide mounts for further Spanish exploration and exploitation, breeding farms were quickly established in the Caribbean Islands.
Pizarro, on his way to Peru, brought a few horses from Spain; he then picked up additional horses in the Islands. These were the first horses ever in Peru, and were, undoubtedly, similar to the foundation stock for what is now known as the Peruvian Paso. Because of the size of the plantations, and the amount of ground to be covered, and probably for reasons of personal and regional preference, the characteristics most sought after in the ambling horses bred in Peru were somewhat different from the specific traits bred for in other enclaves of Paso development in the New World.
Now, add four hundred years of regional isolation, and innumerable generations of horse breeding selection to the original gene pool. What you end up with, in Central and South America, are a variety of similar horses that all do the paso gait (more or less), but do it in slightly different ways, with varying degrees of consistency, and/or at different tempos.
Today's Peruvian Paso could most accurately be described as the Rolls Royce of Pasos, a true luxury- pleasure horse, while the Paso Fino could more readily be equated with a sports car, like a Mustang or a Corvette. Peruvian Paso horses tend to be a little larger (usually 14-1/2 to 15.1 hands) than Paso Finos, and they do their lateral four-beat gait with a slower, smoother, more precise rhythm, with more over reach, covering more ground, per step. In the shoulder area, they are loose and suave. Paso Finos tend more towards being tight and quick.
Aficionados of the Peruvian Paso breed feel that Peruvians do their gait more precisely and uniformly, with absolute perfect timing between the footfalls, (bred in deep pisos, or raza). This quality can be accentuated and evaluated by collecting, and slowing the horse down, while maintaining a perfect, equally spaced rhythm of the footfalls (paso llano). In Peru, taking your time, appearing to be unhurried, unconcerned and unruffled by the things going on around you, even as you covered the large distances, were all symbolic of the aristocratic Spanish colonial lifestyle; an attitude based on wealth, privilege, power, and prestige.
Note: it is well known, by Peruvian Paso judges, that speed can hide a lack of perfection in the paso llano gait. That is why good judges insist that the riders go slowly in a gait class. Paso Fino owners, on the other hand, take their satisfaction from seeing how close together (quick) the footfalls can be.
The single most easily identifiable characteristic that distinguishes Peruvian Pasos from Paso Finos is called "termino.” This is the arching out of the front legs to the side. Peruvian Pasos, in motion, seem to be swimming through the air. This graceful, eye catching action originates in the shoulder, and can be coupled with either high, or low knee action, referred to as "lift". Termino, like caviar, is an extravagance. It is, also, an acquired taste. What, at first blush, may appear to be strange, unappetizing, even unappealing, over time takes on a distinct, refined flavor all its own. Termino adds a special focal point for the discriminating palate of the paso connoisseur.
Termino, and its execution, does in fact help the horse have less bounce in the front end, but should not be equated with, or mistaken for gait. Remember, "gait" describes the timing of the footfalls, not the speed or motion of the legs. A Peruvian Paso horse could have wonderful lift and termino, and still be out of gait. The termino and lift are the icing. The gait is the cake. Termino is considered to be the "trade mark" of the Peruvian Paso horse. A Peruvian Paso without termino is like an Appaloosa without spots.
Paso Fino breeders have tried to breed the termino out of their horses (it came from, and is still seen in many Andalusian horses). This has been done to allow them to do the "fino gait" quicker. In this form, they are "all show and no go.” To demonstrate this "gait" they are shown on a long wooden runway, called a "fino board.” We say that Peruvian Pasos go paca, paca, paca and that Paso Finos go pickey, pickey, pickey, pickey (in the same amount of elapsed time). The Peruvian Pasos' gait is more graceful, fluid, elegant, and smooth, while the Paso Fino tends to be more flamboyant, quick and choppy. For mental imagery, compare a turbine, moving in a circle, to a piston, moving up and down. The Peruvian Paso is the turbine-the Paso Fino is the piston.
This leads us to the second-most common question: The way they wing out, don't they trip themselves on the trail?"
First, as you have probably already figured out, we do not like to call it winging out! "Winging,” is a negative term, used to describe a conformation fault that leads to problems. When referring to the front leg action of Peruvian Paso Horses, we refer to it as termino. Over the years, I have owned hundreds of horses, representing a wide variety of breeds, including over one hundred Peruvian Pasos. I can state unequivocally that I have never known a breed of horse to be more sure-footed (especially as they move beyond a flatfooted walk) than the Peruvian Paso. Not only do they not trip themselves; the ambling lateral four-beat gait is exactly why they are such a pleasure to ride for the typical pleasure, or trail rider. And, unlike many trotting horses, they do not "interfere" with themselves.
2b. Question: "Well, don't you have to use special shoes and weights, and special training devices to get them to do that gait?"
Answer: To the contrary! Peruvian Paso Horses, (and their owners) are probably the most avid devotees of the word "Natural" in the horse world today. Unlike the so-called "gaited horses" that we are most familiar within North America-the ones that walk, trot, canter, and have one or two extra gaits tacked on-the Peruvian Paso wants to do the paso gait just by applying the rider's weight to its back. The idea of using special shoes, weights, chains (heaven forbid), soring (even worse), or any special training devices like cavelleti or poles to enhance that gait is totally foreign and is contrary to the goals of the breed. We want our horses to have their distinguishing qualities bred in-not trained in.
Peruvian Pasos are always shown bare footed. That assures all participants that the competition is equal, and shows the audience that no devices are required to make them gait. They have excellent feet, and often do not need to be shod-even for casual pleasure-trail riding. If they are shod, it is always with a smooth, lightweight plate that has the least effect on the horse's natural gait.
When it comes to training, the philosophy is the same. The gait is encouraged, enhanced, and perfected by proper balance, equitation and collection-not by force or any artificial devices. By riding the young Paso horse within its thread (the speed at which the horse can maintain the pure paso llano gait), the gait becomes more and more "locked-in.” Over the course of time, with conditioning and patience, the thread can be extended, allowing the horse to go faster, covering more ground.
One of the major faults committed by trainers unfamiliar with the Peruvian Paso breed is that they allow the horse to go too fast, especially in the early stages of training. Bozal horses (three-year-old) should be ridden slowly to develop collection and consistency. "LSD" (long, slow distance) is the best way to build up a four-year-old, in four-reins. By the time that a Peruvian Paso horse is fully in the bit, he should be fully trained; he will be easy to collect on the bit, he will be able to maintain a precise gait, and he will be willing to respond immediately to the rider's weight change, legs pressure, or a light touches on the reins. We call this focused, manageable energy-this willingness to please-is "brio.”
"Well then, how are Pasos in the mountains? Do they have the strength to carry you all day?"
A little further investigation into the basis of this (frequently asked) question usually leads me to the revelation that the questioner has ridden a dude horse into the mountains, perhaps to go hunting or fishing, and is using that experience as a point of reference for the question. Let's make this perfectly clear-it is one thing to be packed around by a "dude string" type horse; it is entirely another thing to ride a horse for sport. If you are satisfied to be baggage-simply being transported to where you wouldn't or couldn't walk-it probably doesn't matter what kind of horse you ride. When a horse is plodding along, chugging up a steep, difficult trail at a snails pace, it cannot show you much about its finer qualities of gait and energy (or lack of them). The only thing being tested is its strength. It is when the terrain allows you to speed up a little, riding faster than you could walk by yourself, that sport riding begins. That is where the Peruvian Paso can show off its real stuff!
Do not misunderstand, however-the Peruvian Paso is not a speed horse (like an Arabian or Thoroughbred); it is a luxury-pleasure horse. Ridden too fast, where speed is the primary consideration, (i.e., endurance rides) the best qualities are compromised, and over a period of time destroyed. The knowledgeable rider of the Peruvian Paso stays within the horse's "thread,” looking for the right speed to bring forth the horse's best quality-his perfect paso llano gait. That is the challenge (and the pleasure) of Paso horsemanship. WARNING!! Riding like this is addictive; it's the symptom that leads to Paso Mania, so, be careful! Once you have caught this disease, you will most likely be hooked on to the paca-paca-paca Paso gait for life.
As to the second part of the question, (Can they carry you all day?)--I, for one, don't care to sit on any horse all day. I frequently get down and walk, stop to rest, eat, look at the scenery, check out the wild flowers, etc. But, any horse, including a Peruvian Paso that is properly conditioned can carry you "all day.” It is just a matter of building your horse up to it. Remember, your mount is a living, breathing animal (just like you). An overfed, under-worked horse with flabby muscles and soft ligaments and tendons will tire quickly and will be subject to injury. Peruvian Pasos are lightly-built "luxury horses,” not heavy-built "work horses.” Since they are more refined, they are consequently, to some degree, more vulnerable to injury. Like any high-quality product, the Peruvian Paso requires and deserves a little more TLC and special attention.
Aren't Peruvian Pasos hard to train? Isn't that why they are always shown being ridden by those Peruvian trainers (Chalans)?
Al contrario! The gait of the Peruvian Paso is totally natural. It is bred into the horse. He wants to do it. The rider must learn to ride in a way that does not interfere with the gait, but accompanies it, encouraging its consistency and its perfection. The rider must learn how to ride with a constant, almost subconscious attention, especially when it comes to balance and collection. But, once again, this isn't hard to learn. It's just good horsemanship. It's fun! Over time, the horse and rider really become a team...almost appearing to become one.
Remember the stories about the Indians who thought that the Conquistadores and their horses were one godlike being? That's because they were riding smooth, ambling horses! The beauty of riding a Peruvian Paso is that most of the rider's attention can go to learning to be a good horseman, instead of just trying to stay in the saddle, and deal with the trot. That's why we say: "Peruvian Pasos are a sure cure for the trots!"
Paso horses are almost universally intelligent. They respond quickly to respectful, consistent handling. They do not require or tolerate heavy-handed, harsh, discipline. For this reason, they may not match up well (personality-wise) with people who feel a need to use quick fixes, or "cowboy breaking techniques.” These are intelligent, sensitive horses! They respond well, when you have gained their trust. Equipped with patience, and some basic understanding of general horsemanship and paso equitation, you can usually train them yourself. This willingness to work and please, we call "brio."
In most of the adds and magazines you see covering Peruvian Paso horses, "Chalans" (Peruvian Trainers) are usually pictured riding the horses. This is because most of the pictures used in advertising and publications are taken at Peruvian Paso Shows. The Chalans are frequently hired by wealthier owners and breeders (who usually own the best horses) to show their horses, because they think that it will give them an edge, showing in front of Peruvian judges. Having a Peruvian Chalan train and show your horse is a status symbol. Make no mistake: many of these "Chalans" are good riders and trainers, especially when it comes to showing. They know what the judges want to see, and how to show the horses to their best advantage. The end result? They end up riding top-quality horses, and, understandably, often take the top ribbons! And so, naturally, they are the ones who end up being photographed. Don't let that create the mistaken idea that Peruvian Pasos are hard to train, or that only Peruvians can ride them. It may look that way, but it's just not true! Don't let this mis-perception discourage you from trying out the breed. You may be missing "the ride of your life.”
Well, don't you need all that strange looking Peruvian tack to ride them? Doesn't that weird tail piece make them gait?
Contrary to popular belief, the unusual tail piece that hangs down and around the rear end and legs of the horse, (called guarnicion), seen on saddles coming from Peru, does not make the horse gait. Actually, the tail piece is a combination crupper and decorative, ornamental breeching. Over the years in Peru, as the horses were used primarily on relatively flat land (plantations), the side straps of the breeching (retrancas) were allowed to hang loose. The guarnicion has now become (purely) an ornamentation, mostly associated with the Peruvian Paso Show scene. It covers the (still functional) crupper. In spite of appearances (and rhetoric) to the contrary, most riders in North America do not use the guarnicion for day to day riding.
Note: I advise cruppers, not only for Peruvian Pasos, but for all trail horses. They keep the saddle as well as the rider's weight, from bouncing against the vulnerable shoulders and withers, especially during long downhill rides.
The unique and distinguishable Peruvian Paso Tack is the end-product that mirrors the evolution of the Paso horse in Peru. Although it is seen in most of the breed's advertising, and is used almost exclusively at Peruvian Paso Horse Shows, (for obvious reasons) it is neither appropriate nor popular with Paso trail and pleasure riders here in North America.
A properly trained Peruvian Paso will gait beautifully ridden bareback, with only a halter to guide it. A well-fitted saddle adds security for the rider; it allows the horse to be ridden more safely and comfortably, over more difficult terrain. As with any horse, saddle fit is more important than saddle type. A good-fitting saddle, one designed for proper Paso equitation, allows the rider to communicate, by balance and weight change, with the horse and signals the horse to start, stop, collect, and change direction. It is a link between horse and rider and an aid to proper equitation.
Western saddles are usually built for larger horses, (Quater Horses) with longer backs. The bars, extended in the front to accommodate the thick pommel needed to anchor the horn, often interfere with the Paso's shoulder action and can irritate the shoulder and wither area. Eventually, ridden in a Western saddle, discomfort may cause the Paso to lower its head, to get away from the pressure caused by the longer bars. This will spoil the gait, usually encouraging the horse to do a paso trote (paso trot); not a desirable gait!
English and Australian saddles may do less to sore a paso, but they are designed for trotting horses, where the rider is expected to stand in the stirrups, or post, a good bit of the time. These saddles end up tilting the rider's hips forward, thus shifting the center of balance forward. This can encourage the horse to do a running, uneven step in the rear. English and Australian saddles do not position the rider's seat, or legs correctly for the sit down, stay put, hips rolled back, legs hung forward position necessary for correct paso equitation. That is why so many Paso riders (especially Paso Fino riders) pictured riding on English saddles are sitting against the back of the saddles with their legs rigidly stuck out in front of them. They are trying to use the wrong saddle to "bear down" and make the horse reach under itself for better gait. A saddle specifically designed to fit the Paso's back, one with the proper paso seat built into it, will help you get the most from your Paso horse without having to resort to contorted gyrations.
"How about the bit?" "Don't you need a special, severe bit to control Pasos?"
A bit should be viewed as an enhanced communication device between rider and horse, not as a way to inflict pain for the purpose of punishment. It allows the rider to give quicker, more precise messages, to achieve an exact response, and to maintain proper collection. It should never be used to hurt the horse. To get the most out of your Peruvian Paso, it needs to be ridden "on the bit.” Achieving the desired amount of collection is very important for improving and maintaining the precise quality of the gait. The type of bit is not nearly as important as how it is handled. A severe bit (like a spade bit, for example) should never be used. A loose-jawed, low port, short shank bit of appropriate size, with curb chain under the chin, will do the best job. A Peruvian bit is just such a bit.
For the finished horse, snaffle bits and Paso horses do not equate. The same holds true for grazer bits and mechanical hackamores. The snaffle bit was designed for plow horse-style reining, or situations where a lot of pulling on the mouth must be tolerated (i.e., hunter-jumpers and event horses), or where horses work in a more stretched out position (i.e., cutting horses). It can have some short term training applications for horses that have gone "heavy" on the bozal, but should not be thought of as a long term solution. Western style "grazer bits" are designed for "cowboy" neck reining, where the reins hang rather loose, and the horse is free to move his head around as he pleases. This style of bit, or reining are not appropriate for Paso horses. A Paso horse should be ridden on the bit, collected, the reins held just tight enough for direct, immediate communication. The Paso horse's head should remain quiet, and straight ahead between the reins.
Pasos are most responsive when well trained, first in a Peruvian style bosal, then gently weaned onto the bit, in four-reins (bosal and bit used together). That way, they keep a fresh, sensitive mouth. Saddles and tack that have a Spanish flavor, reflecting the Spanish heritage of the breed, have more aesthetic appeal, and compliment the Paso's unique qualities better than English or Western tack and apparel. Obviously, the latter correspond to different types of horses: ones that have a different historical background, and were bred for a very different purpose. A fine horse deserves a fine saddle, one appropriate to its intended function and its heritage.
Question 6. "Can a Peruvian Paso be used as a cow horse?"
A Peruvian Paso is not the kind of horse I would recommend if your primary interest is in roping and/or cutting cows. After all, you don't buy a Mercedes Benz to do the job of a pickup truck, or a Jeep. But if all you ever do is occasionally push a few cows around the back forty, a Paso can do an admirable job, and get you there, and back, in much more comfort and style.
6b. "We've seen them going round and round the arena at the shows?" "Is that paca, paca gait all they can do?"
No!! Of course not! But, at the Peruvian Paso shows the primary interest is in showing off what the horse does best! The paso gait is what makes our horses unique! Peruvian Paso Shows are all based on the shows in Peru, showing the horses doing their best gait - the paso llano gait. That's why, if you've been to a Peruvian Paso Show, but you're not familiar with the breed, you might get the impression that the paso gait is all they can do. You might also assume that Peruvian Paso owners always ride in Peruvian plantation attire (poncho and large straw hat) and that the big pyramid shaped, wooden stirrups have something to do with the paso gait. In every case, you would be mistaken. The Peruvian tack and attire have often worked to our disadvantage in marketing our horses, making us, and our horses look more eccentric and difficult than we actually are.
Actually, Peruvian Pasos can do a flat footed walk. They can also canter, or gallop. They also do a gait called sobreandando. Like paso llano, it is a lateral four-beat gait, (a broken pace) but with uneven timing between the footfalls, closer to the pace. Sobreandando is a less precise gait than paso llano, but is still acceptable. It is often associated with less collection, as experienced, for example, in casual trail riding.
Question 7. "So, Peruvian Pasos they really as smooth as they look?"
Yes! You bet they are! They are in fact, the world's smoothest riding horse. I like to tell people that "Peruvian Pasos are the world's least versatile horse.” That's the price you pay for perfection! Other breeds can out pull, out maneuver, out jump, and out run them. But, what Peruvian Pasos do, namely carry the rider smoothly, willingly and gracefully, with a sense of pride, elegance, dignity, and luxury, they do better than any other horse in the world. That is why they are gaining popularity with the more "mature", discriminating riders in North America! It is not because they are versatile; it is because they are so special; so charismatic, so aristocratic!
We say, at West's Peruvian Paso Center, that the Peruvian Paso is the horse that is "Beautiful to behold, smooth to ride, and easy to handle". But, don't just take my word for it. Go try one out! See for yourself if you don't agree: they are perfect for today's adult luxury-trail-pleasure rider. If that's you...you've found your horse!
Paso Gait (pisos)
I had purposefully positioned myself along the rail, to be in the best possible place to watch, and listen to a gait class, at a National Championship Peruvian Paso Horse Show. It was a big class. There must have been at least twenty horses out in the arena, going round and around, all doing there best paca paca four beat gait. I was keenly interested to see how the judge was going to handle the numbers, excusing those who were not going to be in the ribbons, and working his way, systematically towards selecting the best pisos Pasos...and, the winner of the class.
One of the reasons I enjoy the gait classes (so much) is that they focus on one aspect, and only one aspect of the total package that makes up the meld of many merits, the magnificent Peruvian Paso Horse. In other breeding division classes you are looking at the entire horse; conformation, gait, and disposition are all taken into consideration. In pleasure division classes the performance of the horses, their training, rather than their genetically inherited attributes, are primarily what's being judged. In gait classes, however, only the gait of the horse is evaluated. The judging criteria are narrowed down to one specific focal point, the very special identifying characteristic that separates the paso horse from the rest of the equine world. The paso gait (pisos) class is unique. It is the class for the real aficionado!
Many years ago, in 1982 to be exact, when I was fairly new to this breed, three well known Peruvian judges were enlisted to chair the first- ever seminar on judging Peruvian Paso Horses in North America. The gathering was held in (of course) Southern California. Even though I felt that I had not been involved in the breed long enough to have earned the right to sign up for the judges test, I couldn't resist the temptation to attend the seminar. During that get together I had the distinct pleasure of going out to lunch with Sr. Fernando Grana. I will never forget his explanations of the various gaits. They were clear and precise. They took the mystery out of all the paca, paca paso prattle. For me, this gentleman's dignified demeanor typified all that was admirably aristocratic about the Peruvian culture. He was a direct, living link to the finer qualities that symbolized the paso horse, itself. He was their ambassador. His untimely, and tragic death was a sad loss for the entire Peruvian Paso breed.
The truth is, I have always regretted not taking the judges test, right then and there, when I had the chance. In hind sight, I would have liked to have been able to say, "Yes! I was one of the first people to pass the judges exam." Naive humility, the attitude with which I approached that seminar, kept me from going ahead and taking the exam. In fact, when I signed up for the clinic, I disqualified myself. As it turned out, others, with far less experience (or humility) than I had, elected to take the test, and went on to become carded judges. I realized right then that most American owners and breeders looked at paso horses more as a hobby, a part-time pastime, to be casually enjoyed for the fun of it, rather than a serious professional commitment, to be painstakingly cultivated, and deeply respected. This revelation did not dampen my own desire to make the breeding and training of these wonderful horses my life's work. In fact, I was already marching to the paca, paca beat of my own drummer.
In 1986, the next time a judges seminar was held, I signed up again. This time, I felt more assertive; and confident in my hard earned credentials. I took the test. I passed with a score of 93%, up at the top of my class. Ever since, attending shows, I have kept my own score card, and matched my own judging eye against the picks of the official show judge or judges. Note: by committing your choices to paper you hone your skills. And, you avoid the temptation to cheat (yourself).
In the breeding division classes, it is easy for one judge to "like" a certain type of horse, that many not have the same appeal for another judge. Consequently, a group of top quality horses may fair far differently in ribbon rankings, depending on the personal preferences of the individual judges. Also, because judges tend to stick with "types" throughout their judging, you might find yourself agreeing, or disagreeing, with the judge in class after class. On top of that, in Pleasure Classes, a horse's charisma, or a certain affinity between the judge and rider, plays as big (and as arbitrary) a role, as does the horse's performance. It is much the same in the pleasure division classes, only there you may have an even wider variation of opinions: one good reason not to take the results of these classes too seriously when evaluating stallions fro breeding purposes..
But, in the gait classes, the rules are more precise, the requirements more restrictive. The judging tightens down. Good judges, those who know what they are looking at, should be able to look at a group of horses and pick them in the same order, or darn close to it. Theses classes are in some ways easier to evaluate...and in some ways harder. For the judge, picking a gait class, you cannot fake it. You must know what you are looking at. If not, you will be fooled, and pick the wrong horses. When that happens, and it does happen sometimes, everyone who really understands these horses knows that the judge has missed the mark.
As I stood at the rail, making my selections, ranking this one and eliminating that one, I couldn't help overhear two women who were standing near by. They were discussing various horses as they came "pasoing" past us. They were both dressed in "whites", and wore big Peruvian hats. They spoke in a "big" way that was obviously intended for a larger listening audience. I knew that one of them owned a horse that was being ridden by a Chalan in the arena. This lady was saying to the other "Look at him! Isn't he magnificent? He is a gaiting fool! Isn't that a fantastic gait!?" I wouldn't swear to it, but I suspect this was her horse?! About another horse, she commented, "Look at that! That horse has no gait at all." The owner of that horse was (no doubt) out of earshot.
I looked at the horse she thought had such a fantastic gait. True, he had wonderful lift, and lots of termino. But, he was doing a paso trote, and was quickly given the gate (by the judge). She was livid, and loudly lambasted the judge, (and his entire family). On the other hand, the horse she said had no gait was doing a perfect paso llano, even though it had low lift, and very little termino. It stayed in the arena, although it didn't place high in the ribbons. So, what happened here? Who was right and who was wrong? How could two people see things so differently?
The problem was they were not looking at the same thing. The judge was looking primarily at the cake. The women were eyeing the frosting. You see, the word "gait" describes the timing and sequence of the footfalls, as they strike the ground. Paso llano, sobreandando, huachano (pace), paso trote (paso trot), trote (trot) and trocha (fox trot) are all words describing the various gaits. On the other hand, lift, termino, gatiado, and metal all describe execution. The first is the cake; the second is the frosting. Note: Paso fino people say their horses do three different gaits; paso corto, paso largo, and paso fino. As you will soon see, using my definition for the word "gait", these are actually all the same gait, done at different speeds, and with different amounts of collection and advance.
A gait class is judged primarily on smoothness. In fact, a least 60% of the horses' marks are evaluated this way. The remaining 40% is divided between lift, termino, advance and overreach, and thread. Getting a handle on all the terms, and being able to recognize them when you see them, is at the heart of understanding Paso gait, and Peruvian Paso Horses. In fact, if you cannot identify them, you have not savored the essence of the breed. Understanding gait divides the real aficionado from the novice. Simply owning Peruvian Paso horses does not necessarily qualify one as an aficionado.
The smoothest paso gait, and the only one that should win a gait class, is called paso llano (the smooth gait). It is exactly halfway between a pace and a trot, and is achieved by breaking the pace. When a horse (or any four legged animal) paces, it's two left feet strike the ground at the same time. Then, it shifts off of this two legged platform, and lands on the two right legs (simultaneously). This is a lateral gait.
To form a clearer picture of this, (in your mind's eye), sit at a table and put both your hands out in front of you. Put your thumbs and forefingers down on the table top, hands near each other. Hold your other fingers up, out of the way. Now, you have the 4 legs of your imaginary horse-right?! Picture the head going away from you, up in front, where your forefingers are. Naturally, the tail is nearest you, with your thumbs. Now, strike the table with your left thumb and forefinger...at the same time. It makes a sound like..."puc". As you lift the left thumb and forefinger, simultaneously strike the table with your right thumb and forefinger...puc. OK? With each simultaneous strike of the two hooves (fingers), the horse moves forward, and shifts weight from side to side. That is why you get a side to side motion when you ride a horse at a pace. Can you picture that?
Next, using your hands the same way, strike the table with the left thumb and right index finger, simultaneously...Puc! It sounds the same as the pace? Right?! Now, as your hands (horse) moves forward, lift those fingers and land on the right thumb and left index finger...Puc. This is the trot! The diagonals strike the ground at the same time. Got it? In both the trot, and the pace, two feet strike the ground simultaneously, but it is a different combination of feet. The pace is lateral, the trot diagonal. Right?! The pace goes side to side, the trot more up and down. That's why the trot is so hard to ride. Horse and rider go up together, but the horse comes down quicker, jarring the rider as he reestablishes contact with the horse, who may already be coming back up!
In both the pace and trot, the rhythm or timing between the footfalls is the same. In other words, the horse remains airborne the same amount of time, each time, as it shifts (or springs) from one pair to the other. The sound you get is pac...pac...pac...pac. Are we OK so far? Use your hands and practice...first the pace, and then the trote. Fine.
Now, if we take the pace and break it exactly in half, with the hind foot striking and then the front foot striking, you have the paso llano. It is a lateral four beat gait with equal timing between the footfalls. One foot strikes the ground at one time. It provides the horse with maximum balance and stability. What does it look like? Get down on your hands and knees and crawl. That's the paso llano gait. Now, put your hands back out in front of you. Good! With only one foot landing at a time, strike the table with your left thumb, left forefinger, right thumb, right forefinger. Great! You have broken the pace into four equal parts... pac-a-pac-a-pac-a-pac-a, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, etc., etc. That's it! Halfway between side to side and up and down, half way between the pace and the trot is the smoothest gait in the animal world...the paso llano.
Sobreandando is also a lateral four-beat gait, describing anything between the pace and paso llano. In sobreandando the timing between the footfalls is not even (the laterals being closer together), and so it sounds da dum..da dum...da dum...da dum, etc. To demonstrate sobreandando, strike the left thumb and then quickly the left forefinger (da-dum), now wait a second and strike the right thumb, and (quickly) the right forefinger (da-dum). That's it! This gait is smooth, too, but lacks the precise, (metronome rhythm) of the paso llano. It is okay for trail riding and situations where the horse is not being ridden collected. But, at the show, where the horses are expected to do their best gait, it should always be paso llano. Some judges now ask for sobreandando in the gait classes. In my opinion, this is an exercise in futility and is of no consequence. It just confuses the issue. Horses that can not do the paso llano, and must go to sobreandando as soon as they are asked to go faster should be placed below horses that can maintain a pure paso llano over the widest thread. Only horses with perfect paso llano should be gait class winners.
As you have probably already guessed, paso trote is a gait that falls between paso llano and the trot. It is also a lateral four-beat gait with uneven timing between the footfalls. It is always rougher than the paso llano, has no overreach, and encourages the horse to move (slide) towards the trot. It is inappropriate (and incorrect) for paso horses to do paso trote, or any diagonal gait when ridden under saddle. It is usually the result of riding the horse too fast (beyond its thread). Avoid paso trote, trocha and trote, like the plague, with your paso horse. Always encourage the paso llano...it's the best paso gait.
The execution of the paso llano gait, as we said before, is the "pieza de resistencia". Peruvian Paso horses, ridden on the bit and collected, equate to a luxury car with front wheel drive. To the observer, it should look like the front legs are pulling it along, as opposed to appearing to be pushed by the hind legs. Your eye should be drawn to the action up front...head held high (the pole the highest point), knees lifting high, near, or even above the horizontal, and hooves arching gracefully to the outside with each animated step.
The hind legs should reach under the horse quietly, just clearing the ground, and attracting very little attention. A low, quiet tail set, the tail looking like a long bridal train, completes the picture. The horse's entire carriage and demeanor seems to say: "Here comes the conqueror!" Like a beautiful swan swimming, the collected paso horse is smooth and quiet above the water line, and paddling like hell underneath!
O.K.! If that is gait and execution, what is thread?
It is the variation of speeds at which a horse can do the paso llano, (or sobreandando). Some horses have a narrow thread, wanting to break into another gait as soon as they are asked to speed up, or slow down. Some horses, with more gaiting blood (raza) breed into them, have a naturally wider thread. They want to stay in gait, even when pushed. All horses, if carefully trained, can extend their thread. When a judge has more than one horse who can do an excellent paso llano, performed with exquisite execution, and he (or she) is having difficulty deciding who to pick for a winner, the horses may all be asked to go faster, and slower, to examine the width of their thread.
Where the hind feet land, in relationship to the front feet, is also of importance. A paso horse, ridden collected and on the bit, should reach well under itself. This is called advance. The hind feet should (at least) cap the marks left by the front feet, and may land as much as a foot ahead of the front hoof prints. This is called overreach. It should not be so exaggerated that it interferes with smoothness, nor should it result from a conformational defect (sickle-hocked). A horse that under reaches (does not even cap) will not have good advance, and consequently should be penalized on points (in the overall scoring).
If you have read the previous chapter on "Debunking the Peruvian Paso Horse", you already know that termino is the trade mark of the Peruvian Paso. It is the rolling out of the front legs to the outside, during extension. Termino (please, not terminal) is not a defect. It does not happen in the knees. It does not cause lameness. It originates in the shoulder and should be graceful and fluid. Like coffee, it takes some getting used to. In fact, you may not like it much at first. But, over time, you get hooked. It's addictive. Soon enough, you not only love it...you can't do without it.
Lift is how high the knees go, executing termino. We like high lift. But, like overreach, it shouldn't interfere with smoothness. Gatiado (cat like) is an extra fluid, soft way of moving the front legs. It is almost self-explanatory, especially when you watch a horse that has it. Some horses have excellent pisos (gait), but they are choppy. They are stiff. They are not gatiado. On the opposite end of the spectrum we have horses that have metal. They almost pound their front legs down. You can hear a horse with metal coming from a long ways off. They put their front feet down smartly, with a purpose, like a conqueror!
No matter if a Paso horse's termino is extreme, or practically nonexistent, no matter if its lift is high or low, the front feet should always come down striking the ground squarely, toes pointed straight ahead. Some paso horses do not do this. Instead, they tend to scuff, wearing the inside of their hooves off in the process. Or, they may land toe in or toe out. These are faults, worthy of concern. They cause extra wear over time.
There are two other defects: tight rope walking and wobble hocks that are not exactly related to gait, but seen in the hind end, when it's in motion. They, too should be understood, and avoided, just the same. Tight rope walking is when the back feet track too close, landing on an imaginary straight line, or worse when the rear hooves actually cross over that line, and land on the other side of it.
Wobble hocks describes a wobbly, side to side motion of the hocks, as seen from the rear, as the horse goes through its normal motions, moving ahead at gait. It is usually considered to be a sign of potential problems, the assumption being that the side to side motion leads to unwanted, additional wear and tear, over the miles. Whether this is true or not, it is aesthetically unattractive, and should be avoided.
Normally, the hoof marks of paso horse reflect a wider stance in the front legs (and feet) than in the rear. That's OK. In fact, Paso horses that stand, (and track), absolutely square (and are not a little cow hocked) in the rear, tend to waddle, twisting a little in the rear end. This, in turn, gives the rider a slightly side to side motion. So, don't worry if your paso horse's conformation, looking from the rear, doesn't exactly match the ideal of your good old quarter horse. Remember, form follows function. Paso horses don't ride like quarter horses (thank God), and so, don't need to look like them.
The next time you watch a gait class, you may notice that the judge often stands along the rail...especially, if there is a wall between the arena and the grandstands. The judge may even close his (or her) eyes as the horses come by. That is because your ears tell you almost as much (or, perhaps more) about pisos, than your eyes. This is why they use a "fino board" at Paso Fino Shows. The amplified sound of the horse going down the fino board allows the entire audience to hear, and evaluate (get excited about) the individual horse that is on it. It is an element that Peruvian Paso Shows could adopt to help the shows have more interest for the general public.
The best horse will not only have extravagant termino and flamboyant lift. It will have perfect pisos: an absolute equal timing between the footfalls. Hearing is believing. Listen for yourself! Pac-a-pac-a-pac-a-pac-a. This is why paso horses are so smooth. They're a sure cure for the trots! Riding a paso...correctly...will make you a true believer, too.
It was late at night; eleven o'clock to be exact. I had gone to bed at about ten. I had just gotten thoroughly immersed in counting Z's when the ringing phone rudely pulled me out of some wonderful fantasy, back into a fuzzy brained semblance of reality. I dutifully drug myself out from under the covers, and plodded into the office. On the other end of the phone was an excited, young male voice. "I'm riding a Peruvian Paso on endurance rides, and I've got to have one of your saddles, a Don West Paso Pleasure-Training Saddle!" O.K., I was awake. The caller had my full attention.
He went on to tell me that this was his second Peruvian Paso. The first one hadn't worked out for endurance riding (I never did get to ask him why), and so he had gotten rid of it. Now he had another one that was doing better. He wanted to know why more people weren't using Peruvian Pasos as endurance horses? He said, "I am going to show everyone just what great endurance horses Peruvians are. Then the breed will start to receive the true recognition it rightly deserves!" He wanted to know if my saddle would help his horse "extend the trot" (his words) as he felt the saddle he was currently using was interfering with "the full extension of his horse." Note: For me, someone using the word "trot", in the same sentence with Peruvian Paso horses, is like someone running their fingernails down a blackboard.
Still, I had to listen. He gave me no choice! He was so excited, so energetic as he talked, I couldn't get a word in edgewise. He told me that he had read all my articles. He said he knew that I was a trail rider too, like him, and so we were, undoubtedly, "simpatico" on this issue. He said he was so happy to finally be talking to (at) a kindred spirit; someone who would understand where he was coming from. I waited 'til he had almost run out of gas. Then, seizing the moment as he took a breath, I burst his bubble. I said, "I don't think Peruvian Pasos are really the ideal breed, if your primary interest is endurance riding. I have ridden both endurance and competitive trail with both Arabians and Peruvian Pasos, so, I have some experience on which to base my opinion." For a moment, there was silence. I could tell; he had gone into shock. The shock quickly turned to anger, and antagonism. In a flash I had gone from "hero" to "goat". Any thoughts about him buying a Pleasure-Training Saddle were gone. He wanted to know how I could say such a preposterous thing. Now I was on the defensive.
Please, don't misunderstand what I am about to say. I don't say this to brag, but just to qualify myself as someone who has earned the right, through the seat of my pants (experience) to express an opinion on this subject. Over the course of the last fifteen (plus) years I have ridden literally hundreds of Peruvian Paso horses, both in Peru and in the United States. I have owned (and trained) well over one hundred of these magnificent creatures. I have listened to them. They have taught me. They have, over the course of countless hours and miles, told me about their aristocratic nature, and their subtle attributes. I have been an enthusiastic student, and a diligent learner. I have served my apprenticeship. Now, as a trainer and teacher, I feel I must speak out in their behalf.
The young man went on to tell me that although he had only ridden two Peruvian Pasos, he felt he, too, was "an expert". He continued on, but, somehow, I didn't hear him as clearly. I was thinking back to when I was new to the breed and had had my own experiences, riding Peruvian Pasos on endurance and competitive trail rides. It seemed like such a long time ago when I took my Peruvian Paso stallion, Carmel, on an endurance ride. (I had already ridden it a few years earlier on an Arabian mare.) With Carmel, this being his first race, and him only four years old, I signed up for the novice class. We would go around one 25 mile loop. The open class would have to do the loop twice.
I was so proud of Carmel. He was so handsome! With his deep copper colored coat, shining like a new penny, and his long, wavy, flaxen mane and tail, he stood out in any crowd. You couldn't help but notice him. And, of course, everyone had. They all wanted to take a look at him, and see this rather exotic breed, close up. As the race began, all the "open" riders were off first, setting the pace. In a few moments they were over the first hill, out of sight. Carmel was very excited with all the high charged commotion, but, he behaved like the gentleman he was, and we set off at a nicely collected paso llano. That soon shifted (slightly) into a more relaxed, easy going sobreandando. The trail was rough and rocky. The miles fell behind and faded away (and steadily took their toll). Carmel began to tire. His gait became less collected, less precise. He wanted to stretch his head out and rest. He pressed harder into the bit. And, as he did, his center of balance would move forward and his gait would start to slide towards a paso trote. I would collect him back into a sobreandando again, but as I allowed him to relax, he would extend, and be back into a paso trote. Obviously, we had a dilemma. To go for speed over distance, I had to sacrifice collection, and gait.
As a horse tires, its natural tendency is to go toward its most efficient gait. Depending on the individual Paso horse, it may move toward a trot or a pace, but it will not keep up an equally spaced, lateral four beat gait forever. If you do not believe this is true, just go out and watch a herd of Pasos running around and playing in an open field or meadow. It is easier for the horse to shift from two feet to two feet, than to land on one foot at a time. A paso llano takes more energy than a trot, and if pushed hard enough, without being forced to stay collected, eventually efficiency will win out over extravagance.
Before the twenty-five miles were through, I had gotten down and run, on foot, at least half the total distance. I ran the downhill sections, rode the flats and "tailed" the uphills (ran behind the horse, holding the tail). Poor Carmel was exhausted. His beautiful paso llano gait had fallen apart. To rub a little more salt into the wound, as we approached a sign that showed "two miles left to go", a half dozen sleek, trim Arabians came streaking pass, at full gallop, completing the second loop of the fifty mile course, demonstrating once again that form follows function. Arabians are built to run... and run, and run. Pasos are built to paca-paca.
Let me state here, for the record, there are a few Peruvian Paso horses that compete successfully on endurance and competitive trail rides. They are well conditioned, older horses. Furthermore, if you look at pictures of them competing, you will see that they are often doing the paso trote or trocha (trot). On top of that, they are not what we would call good examples of the classic conformation we look for in the ideal Paso horse. In fact, they look kind of "thoroughbreddy". They certainly do not have maximum lift or termino. In short, they do not look like or move like well bred Peruvian Paso. A Champion of Champion Peruvian Paso stallion or mare, or a Luxury Gelding Blue Ribbon winner would not be the one to compete successfully in an endurance ride. You can not have your cake and eat it too.
As aficionados of the breed, the qualities we seek in Peruvian Pasos are: perfect pisos (bred in, equally spaced lateral four-beat gait), over the widest range of speeds (thread), with extravagant lift (high knee action), and abundant termino (swinging out to the sides of the front legs). The deeper the paso raza-the bred in desire to stay in gait-the more the horse will try to maintain a lateral four-beat gait, regardless of the speed. Horses with less paso raza, (less ambling blood), will give up the four-beat gait more easily, breaking gait and going into a trot, or lope as speed increases. They have less thread but are more versatile and efficient (and consequently would do better on speed/distance rides). Note: This explains why some Paso Finos, like "Colombians" who were often used as cow horses, as well as plantation horses, sometimes make good competitive trail horses. Because they were bred to be more versatile, they tend to be less smooth and less well gaited. They have less "lift". They trot easily. Consequently, they may make better endurance and competitive trail horses. A true "fino" Paso Fino would do no better than a well bred Peruvian Paso.
Lift and termino are the very stamp of the Peruvian Paso. If pisos and deep raza are the cake; lift and termino are the icing. They are beautiful, elegant and exciting to see. We aficionados like our horses to have plenty of both! Properly combined together, they provide a smooth ride for the rider, and a classy, animated, aristocratic look for the horse. We look for horses that have the right size and conformation to enhance these qualities. But, the fact is, they waste energy. Compared to the trot, they are not efficient! You cannot have it both ways.
Note: Look at the sweat that the top Peruvian Paso show horses work up with just a few (collected) laps around the arena! Believe me, they are working hard! The judge looks (and listens) to see who can maintain the most precise gait. As the horses begin to tire, the judge will watch to see who breaks gate first. The judge is testing, and the horses are showing off their bred-in qualities of pisos and brio that make a truly fine Peruvian Paso. Like fine wine, they must not be rushed or hurried. They must, however, be understood and nurtured to be fully appreciated.
The qualities you want in a competitive endurance horse are speed, strength, stamina, and efficient gait. That means trot and lope; with low, clean, efficient action. The horse must be able to be let out (not collected) and do an extended trot, or lope.
The qualities that make a good Peruvian Paso and a good endurance horse are in many ways polarized, at opposite ends of the spectrum. That is because endurance horses are bred primarily for speed. Paso horses are bred for LUXURY. It is like the difference between a Mercedes Benz and a Ferrari. If you do not understand this distinction, you will not be able to truly understand, or fully appreciate Peruvian Paso horses.
Over time, excessive speed kills quality paso gait. That is not to say that Peruvian Pasos cannot go a long distance, or that they cannot cover ground. They can! But, in order to preserve, encourage, and enhance the lateral four-beat gait, they must be ridden within their "thread". They must be encouraged to do a perfect paso llano-not asked to exceed the gait, and be allowed, or forced to do a Paso Trote, or ( worse) Trocha.
An endurance ride is a speed contest. To compete, you go as fast as you can until you cross the finish line. Speed is the primary concern; the only concern. It's very exciting! Riding a Peruvian Paso is exciting, too! But, it is a different kind of excitement. First, you must be unhurried! Paso equitation is a more reserved, constrained form of excitement. It has more to do with repetitive precision than wild abandon. If you ride at a speed that is beyond the horse's ability to maintain gait, eventually you destroy the gait-consequently, you destroy the essence of the Paso horse.
If there is any one area of training that Americans do not seem to understand, it is the importance of riding slowly; of staying in gait (inside the horse's thread). This is especially true for young horses in their earlier stages of training. L.S.D. (Long, Slow, Distance) is the best formula for bringing out the best qualities of a Paso horse, and getting it "set" in its gait. SPEED KILLS - patience, and going slowly pays big dividends.
Does this mean that you should never lope your Peruvian Paso horse?
Of course not! Loping, from time to time, will just strengthen the horse, loosen him up, and break up the monotony. But, be sure to lope your Paso on both leads. And don't lope excessively. Remember, loping is not the Peruvian Pasos forte. In fact, the more lift and termino they have, the less efficient (and funnier looking) their lope will be. "Setting" and refining the lateral four-beat gait is the really important issue. Always keep in mind, "speed kills".
I excused myself from what had become a lengthy (and pointless) conversation with the young man on the other end of the line. Not only had I been drug out of my cozy bed, I had lost a saddle sale, and I had lost a "fan" as well. As I returned to the warmth of my covers, I thought of all the wonderful qualities that meld together in such a unique blend; the Peruvian Paso horse. I wondered if, in the hands of "speed crazy Americans", the breed could survive and retain the characteristics that make it so unique...so wonderful! Only in the hands of people who understand the meaning of the word "luxury" and who seek this quality in their lives (and their horses) will the essence of the real Peruvian Paso survive. The essence of "luxury" is experienced at a speed that is aristocratic, conservative, disciplined and unhurried.
I tried to go back to sleep, but I felt unsettled. I kept thinking, "Speed kills. Take your time. Go slowly!" Then I thought about myself, as a young man. Would I have understood this wisdom back then? I loved to ride fast; flat out, like the wind, over all kinds of country. First, there were English hunter-jumper horses. Then, there were Quarter horses and Appaloosas, cowboying in Colorado. Finally, there were Arabians ridden on endurance and competitive trail rides. It wasn't until I was older, and had gotten all that "speed" out of my system, that I was ready for Peruvian Pasos. In an endurance ride, the idea is to see who can get across the finish line first. Time has mellowed me. I'm no longer in a hurry. Now-a-days, I find that I am more interested in the journey than in the final destination.
If, after reading this, you find that you are "simpatico", then, the Peruvian Paso may be the perfect horse for you.
This book is available in it entirety from Have Saddle-Will Travel, Inc., Innovative Outfitter. To get your autographed copy go to www.havesaddlewilltravel.com, www.donwest.net, or call 800-821-3607.