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Riding a Paso Fino Horse
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Riding a Paso Fino Horse

The art of riding a Paso Fino horse is one that appears easy but it is like any other breed of horse, it requires some basic riding abilities. When you see someone riding a Paso Fino from a distance, it appears that the rider is just sitting there. While the Paso Fino horse is born with the natural ability to perform the lateral 4 beat gait. The Paso Fino horse by nature is a more forward, responsive horse than some other breed of horses. The Paso Fino horse is an extremly smooth horse.  It requires proper communication in order to make the horse move in the proper speed in order for the horse to perform the Paso Fino gait. Think of it this way, a dressage horse is born with the ability to be at the Grand Prix level.  Even if the horse is trained to do its movements, just because a person can sit the horse at the trot and canter, it requires additional skill from the rider to make that horse do upper level movements. The Paso Fino horse will canter, trot just like any other horse. This will also happen while riding when either not proper communication occurs or the horse is not in proper physical condition to endure long rides.

Below you will find some tips about what it takes to ride a Paso Fino.  Once you understand the basics of riding one, and you experience this horse; there is no other one like it. 

  1. Start riding recreational Paso Fino horses that have had sufficient training and are used by amateur owners, kids.
  2. Develop a relationship with a barn where you can take lessons and get to know "ONE" horse in particular to learn about the breed.
  3. First make sure that you learn the basic commands how to stop, turn left, right and how much leg pressure does it require to make the horse move.
  4. Get commfortable performing those commands at the walk speed before you move into the Paso Fino gait.
  5. You must have good balance in the saddle and must be relaxed through your body. 
  6. The length of the stirup should follow  the natural lenght of your leg and the stir up iron be about six inches higher than the position of your foot parallel to the ground. If your stir up is so short that that you cannot straighten your leg and feel like you are standing, then your stirup is too short. This will automatically make the horse think you are squeezing or driving your seat to make him go faster whenever you start moving.  Each horse is different and you must adjust accordingly.
  7. Picture this. When the horse starts moving faster into the Paso Fino Gait, your body and leg position should have a feeling as when you walk and push a grocery cart. Your body weight rests across your entire feet while your hips are relaxed.  Allow the motion of the horse to move your hips.  Only worry to control your feet and shoulders steadily. Your arms should stay by the side or your body.  Your elbow should bend in the angle that allows you to be comfortable when holding the reins to communicate with the horse. 
  8. Every Paso Fino responds to the reins (contact in mouth) differently, depending on how it was taught to respond.  Most Paso Finos use direct reining.  Right rein to right  hip of the rider to turn right and same on left.  DO NOT Swing arms away from body to turn unless you know that horse understands what it means.
  9. Not every Paso Fino has been taught leg pressure as a way of bending or moving sideways as it is accostumed in dressage or english riding.

The most important aspect of riding a Paso Fino is to educate yourself about the breed, each particular horse and what your expectations are of that horse. A Paso Fino horse uses more energy to perform the lateral gait than a regular walk, trot canter horse.  This is a feeling you must get accostumed to. The Paso Fino breed has great trainers, owners and places where you can learn how to ride one.  Once you understand the basics of riding a Paso Fino, and you experience it; you understand why people fall in love with them.

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Carlos Tobon was born in Colombia, South America and came to the US in 1982. He is a third generation Paso Fino horse breeder and enthusiast and learned the art of Paso Fino training from Alvaro Iriarte during his high school and college years. He graduated from college in the United States with a Bachelors degree in International Business. In 1990, he began training Paso Fino horses professionally. In 1995, Carlos became a certified PFHA Judge and was Senior Certified in 2001. Also in 1995, he relocated to Texas where he met his wife, Tara, and realized his gift for teaching. Ever since he has focused his business and training on working with Amateurs and Youth and reaching out to new owners through education with clinics and lessons. His clinics are well-established throughout the US and in Europe, including Germany, Switzerland and England. Carlos works with recreational riders as well as show riders and coaches a Paso Fino drill team. He has trained and shown horses to National Champions in the divisions of Bella Forma, Pleasure, Performance and Fino. He has coached numerous Amateur Owners and Youth to do the same and has also taught/trained National Champion Equitation and Horsemanship riders and their horses. Carlos has published a manual for new Paso Fino horse owners on the basics of training a Paso Fino Horse, which is currently in its second edition. He has created two educational videos which outline the PFHA show divisions and their classes with video footage of horses to clearly show examples. In 1996, he and his family relocated to the Ocala, Florida to start “Tobon Paso Fino Studio” a school dedicated to teaching about riding, training and managing the Paso Fino horse. Carlos has also served the breed through PFHA. On a Regional level, he was past President of the Southwest region as well as show chair. On the National level, Carlos has been a member of the Judges and Stewards’ and Events Committees, coach for the US team for the 2006 Youth Mundial, past Chair of the Education committee and Chair of the Youth committee. Carlos Tobon managed Besilu Collection for three and half years. Besilu Collection is one of the oldest and largest Paso Fino Farms in the United States. Carlos implemented some marketing programs there that became very popular and were incentives for buyers to get into the Paso Fino Breed. Today, Carlos continues to offer educational clinics and offering consulting services to all Paso Fino Owners and enthusiasts, who want to learn more about the breed.

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