The Peruvian Paso is first and foremost, a light saddle horse known for its smooth ride. He is NOT just a show horse. He is intelligent and versatile, making him an excellent trail and pleasure partner. He can compete at a show one day and work on the farm the next.
The trademark of this breed is a unique and completely natural 4 beat lateral gait called the “paso llano”. No artificial devices are needed or used to enable the horse to perform it.
The Peruvian horse has a natural presence with fine features and expressive eyes. He is short-medium backed with a low tail set. And because of his Spanish roots, is blessed with a long, thick mane and tail. His average height is 14 to 15.3 hands, he weighs between 900 and 1,100 pounds. He comes in all basic solid colours as well as greys and roans.
In his homeland of Peru, he has been declared a Cultural Heritage of the Nation and is referred to as the “Pride of Peru”.
The Show Horse
In the show ring, judges award the animals that exhibit traits according to the PHAC Rule Book. Those traits are: conformation and condition, smoothness and termino, advance, brio, collection and manners. Horses must be shown barefoot with the exception of the Junior and Novice Divisions. Horses may be shown in Peruvian, English, Western, Plantation or Australian tack. Attire must match the tack in classes restricted to specific types of gear.
Traditional Peruvian Tack
Peruvian horses can be ridden in any style of tack, English, Australian or western. Peruvian tack is mandatory only in certain classes at horse shows.
Peruvian tack is the result of 400+ years of tradition, many pieces being remnants of tack of the Conquistadors. The bridles are made from a double layer of finely hand-woven rawhide. The matching halters allow for leading and tying. The eyepatches, or tapa ojos, when covering the horse’s eyes, were used to ground tie when no tree or fence was available.
The saddles, also handmade, feel like a comfortable cross between a dressage and a western saddle. The tail piece, called the guarnicion, is left over from the 16th century.
A distinctive piece of Peruvian tack is the wooden box stirrups, or estribos. When the Spanish arrived in Peru, they could find no local source of iron for making stirrups, instead they designed the box stirrup from local wood. These stirrups may feel strange to those used to a smaller, iron stirrup, but riders will soon come to appreciate their comfort.
Many pieces of tack are adorned with silver or stainless-steel decorations.
The Ultimate Pleasure and Performance Horse
The Peruvian horse is NOT just a show horse. He is a tire-less pleasure & performance horse and companion. He has acquired a reputation as a solid trail horse due to his smooth inherent gait and energy. He is versatile, sure-footed and intelligent making him an excellent choice for the pleasure and performance rider.
Photo Credits: Red Mane Creative, April Visel, Perol Chico & Debbie Pye