When Francisco Pizarro entered western South America to pillage the Inca empire in the 1500s, he brought with him 180 soldiers and 27 horses. The horses used by the Spanish formed the foundation of the breeds of horses which were to be created in future centuries. One of the most distinctive breeds emerging from South America is the Peruvian Paso. The Spanish term "Paso" means both "gait" and "gently." These two meanings of the term aptly sum up the outstanding quality of the breed. There are 11,500 registered Pasos in the United States, to which they were first imported in the 1950s. The Paso has gained considerable attention in recent years.
The Peruvian Paso has a flat face with wide-set, expressive eyes. The neck is short, arched, muscular and carries the head erect. The breed stands between 14 and 14.2 hands and weighs between 900 and 1200 pounds. The Paso has a short back and powerful chest and quarters. The gait is energetic although the temperament of this breed is quite gentle. The most distinguishing feature of the Paso is the gait which is a lateral four-beat gait similar to the running walk. The Paso is very durable, possessing both stamina and powers of endurance. It is found in various colors except pinto. Excessive white is not favored. The mane and tail are allowed to grow long and not cut.
The Peruvian Paso breed is derived from Spanish horses brought to Peru in the 1500s. The horses were Andalusians, Barbs, Friesians and Spanish Jennets. The unique mixture of these breeds was produced in relative isolation over a period of centuries. They were bred to fill the requirements of plantation owners in Peru who needed a horse which provided great endurance and a smooth ride.
An interesting requirement of the Peruvian Paso in shows is the "Champagne Walk." To test the smoothness of each horse's gait, the rider balances a tray with a glass of champagne on it on the fingertips of one hand. A horse with a smooth gait will not cause one drop to be spilled.
1. Andalusian 2. Barb 3. Spanish Jennet