Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 5/7/98; 2:00:00PM.

The Peruvian Paso

Excerpted from materials provided by the Peruvian Paso Horse Registry of North America

The ancestors of the present day Peruvian horse came from Spain with Pizarro and were of Andalusian, Barb and Spanish Jennet blood. These horses were largely credited by historians with the fall of the centuries-old Inca Empire as they gave the Conquistadors a distinct advantage over the natives. Horses were reportedly so valuable that many were shod with silver and young foals were carried by porters in "hammocks" during the long, forced marches. As Peru became New Spain, the owners of large haciendas favored horses with fast, smooth gaits. Generations of strict selection have genetically fixed these traits and the breed can guarantee 100% transmission of its gait to all purebred foals. The principle philosophy of Peruvian breeders is that these horses are born with the gait- not trained to develop it or improve it. When bred to another breed of horse or to a donkey, the Peruvian Paso will pass along its gait to the first generation of offspring.

The Peruvian Paso's size ranges from 14.1 to 15.2 hands, with the average being about 14.2. They weigh between 900 to 1,200 pounds. They adapt well to all climates and are easy keepers. They have long, luxurious manes and tails. The gait of the Peruvian Paso is a broken pace which gives the rider neither the vertical movement of the trot nor the lateral motion of the pace. It is a very smooth ride. The trademark characteristic of the gait is the "termino" or outward rolling of the front limb during extension. This originates in the shoulder giving the horse the ability to swing the leg forward with minimum vertical force to the back, and is not a wing or paddle. This action is natural due to selective breeding. They cover a considerable amount of ground because they will overstride the print of the fore hoof with the rear hoof by about 13". Disposition is equally important to the Peruvians. The horses were used primarily for transportation and riders did not want to deal with temperamental, stubborn or nervous horses. As a result of strict culling, the Peruvian horse is intelligent, tractable and eager to please.

Peruvians come in all basic colors: black, brown, bay, chestnut, gray, palomino, dun, grulla, buckskin and roan.

The Peruvian Paso was developed over 400 years for transportation. Even today in Peru, there are not many roads and the gentry still use these horses to ride from hacienda to hacienda. The horses can achieve speeds of 15-18 miles per hour for limited stretches, and can travel all day long at a speed of 10-12 miles per hour. Peruvian Pasos are a "traveling" horse, and when shown, must go 20 miles without breaking gait before they enter the show-ring to be judged. They are only recently becoming known in the U.S. since the Peruvian government did not allow them out of Peru until a few years ago. They are considered a national treasure in Peru, and their breeding is well regulated.

Peruvian Paso Horse Registry of North America 3077 Wiljan Ct., Suite A Santa Rosa, CA 95407 707-579-4394

There are approximately 12,000 Peruvian Pasos in North America, and about 25,000 in the entire world.

"Peruvian Pasos are by far the smoothest riding horse in the world. I have a bad back, and it isn't troubled when I ride them. I ride in the mountains, and these horses are unbelievably tough. They have terrific stamina. They can go all day long." -Ron Henrickson, Gateway Peruvians, Polson, Montana

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