Caballo Peruano de Paso Paper
Honors English 11-B4
11 February 2005
Caballo Peruano de Paso
(The Peruvian Stepping Horse)
There are many different types and breeds of horses that are used for many
different things. Some are specialized in jumping, some in racing, others in
showing or parades, and some are great for rodeos. However the qualities
that make the best all around horse are temperament, beauty, versatility,
low maintenance, and being all around pleasurable. The one breed of horse
that meets this criteria and is the most pleasurable of all is the Peruvian
The Peruvian Paso is known as one of South America's best kept secrets (
Reusser 20 Jan. 2005 ). The first people to introduce the horse to the
America's was the Spanish. Christopher Columbus brought the first horses to
the island of Santo Domingo in 1493 that were used to start the first
breeding operation. The most outstanding breed at the time was the
Andalusion which became the foundation of the Peruvian Paso ( Peruvian).
Soon after, the breed moved down into the central parts of South America and
were used for mounting troops during their conquests. In 1532 Francisco
Pizaro's troops used an early version of the Peruvian Paso when he conquered
the Inca empire. It was here, in Peru's rough terrain, where these lovely
animals stayed isolated and were bred to perfection. It would be 450 years
later before the secret was unleashed to the rest of the world.
The most important quality in a horse is temperament; and the Peruvian has
the best. Due to it's isolation in Peru for so many centuries, the Peruvian
is one of the purest breeds in the world. During their 450 year isolation,
the Peruvian breeders would only breed the horses that had the best
temperaments. Any horse that had an unsuitable disposition was banned to
field work or even worse, literally banned to the dinner table (Albright,
History). So bad traits and habits such as biting, bucking, and kicking
faded with each generation and today are very rare among this breed (Kiesow
28 Jan. 2005)! Currently, if a Peruvian has a bad habit, it was most likely
taught to them by a human and not inherited (Ripley 1 Feb. 2005).
So if their temperament lacks in bad qualities, what are their good
qualities? The best quality is it's willingness to serve. The Peruvian lives
to serve. Horse breeder Annie Kiesow said that Peruvians are so willing to
obey that they will literally be shaking when asked to do something scary,
yet will still obey. It is almost as if they say, " I am scared about this,
but you asked me to do it ,so I will" (Kiesow 28 Jan. 2005). Furthermore
sensibility, patience, loyalty, and dependability are cherished Peruvian
qualities. One example of how sensible and patient the Peruvian is, is that
If a Peruvian gets hung up in a fence, it would usually stand and wait to be
untangled by its owner rather than go wild such as other horses would
(Kruger 20 Feb. 2005). Annie Kiesow commented on their loyalty in the
following quote, " My Gelding would die for me, I just know it, bred down
from the horses of the Spanish conquistadors, they have the heart of a
warrior, I had a young horse once that stood his ground while an angry cow
hit him so hard she knocked the wind out of him, but he stayed between her
and me." ( Kiesow). "You can even see them reason and they sense your
feelings and act accordingly", Carole commented (Photiadis 6 Feb. 2005).
Once they learn something, they generally never forget, which makes them
extremely dependable. The Peruvian, because of their great temperament, is
the national horse of Peru and is highly respected (Hirthler 1977).
This horse was also bred for a quality called brio. A horse with brio is
focused, willing to work, and is quick to react and learn. The word brio isn
't synonymous with the word "spirit" referring to a horse that is hard to
control, such as the spirit of the Arab. Rather, the energy and heart of a
horse with brio is completely at the service of the rider. Underneath all
that energy is a calm and completely willing horse. To be willing is the
most important characteristic in brio (Albright, Peruvian) . One great
example of Peruvian's easy temperament combined with their brio took place
at a pre-show press conference at the luxurious Radisson Hotel in Odessa,
Texas. Joan Box and her associate brought their horses to the show and to
accommodate the journalists, they took their horses through the glass doors,
down the stairs, and into the lobby with complete calmness. One man in the
hotel hoped that they would be staying in the room next to him because they
were better mannered than the people who stayed there the night before.
After the Press conference, they gave pony rides to all who wanted. Albright
" Those who saw them in the show arena a few days later were treated to
high-stepping, fire-breathing, show-stopping excitement. Watching them in
competition, it was hard to believe that the same horses had calmly walked
inside a busy hotel and given pony rides to tourists on a crowded sidewalk.
I know of few breeds where this would be typical of high performance show
horses." ( Albright, Versatility)
These great horses will be quiet in the pasture and when they are with other
horses but as soon as they are under saddle they really "wake up" and all
their energy is at your, the rider's service (Windom 25 Jan 2005). Carole
Photiadis describes how brio can be felt by just sitting on a Peruvian. She
said, " climb aboard and feel the muscles quiver beneath you, waiting for
your command." ( Photiadis).
Dale Roberson says that, " Watching a Peruvian should induce a special
feeling for even the most naive equestrian." Brio brings out the spirit,
pride, and heart of the horse that makes it thrilling to watch or ride.
Albright interprets the sensation of brio in the following quote:
" He comes into view, elegant and handsome... maybe even a little
pretentious and arrogant. Always on parade, he fills the scene with his
ample movements. The universe is barely big enough to contain his boastful
gaiety. He is a source of great pleasure to his owner and to those who see
him." ( Albright, Versatility)
Brio is the controlled energy that the Peruvian gives off simply in it's
presence. When watching the horse it looks full of energy, movement, and
pride but underneath all that, the rider feels complete calmness. Brio is
something you have to see yourself because words cannot accurately describe
it.. It creates the pleasure of catching every eye you pass.
To compliment a Peruvian Paso's brio is the pleasure of it's majestic
beauty. The Peruvian has a body full of strength and stamina with well
developed muscles giving it a refined appearance. It's height is between 14
and 15 hands ( about 4½ to 5 feet to the withers). It's head is of medium
size, proportional with it's body, and has a small muzzle. It's eyes are
dark and expressive with a graceful, arched neck. The body is long and
muscular. The coat is always a deep color that shines and looks and feels
soft and silky. The mane and tail are long, thick and beautiful ( Reusser 20
Jan. 2005). Overall they are one of the most beautiful breeds to look at.
Another reason owners find pleasure in the Peruvian is because they require
such little maintenance in care, riding , and training. They eat very little
because of their high metabolism and small size. Consequently, they don't
cost as much to take care of. Where some horse breeds require extensive foot
care, the Peruvian's feet require little maintenance. Their feet are so
tough that they don't need shoes or any other special care. (Kiesow 28 Jan.
2005). The Peruvian is generally less dominant than most making them easier
to handle while in the pasture and during training Ripley commented that, "
I got my mare out of the pasture when she was six years old and got on her
bareback and lead lines on her halter. That was how I "trained" her." (
Ripley). Compared to other horses they are very easy to train , which saves
the rider much frustration and time
After considering all the above qualities, one might question ,what is a
Peruvian like to ride? Their sensitivity and responsiveness makes them
extremely easy to ride and train. They are sensitive and require very little
effort for communication. They can pick up even the smallest body movements
of their rider and are very light with the reins ( Ripley 01 Feb. 2005). It'
s easy to concentrate on other things while riding because it's not
necessary to be always jerking on the reins.
Along with their responsiveness, comfort is a quality that can make riding a
great pleasure. The years of their isolated breeding has resulted in the
Peruvian having the smoothest gait in the world. After riding a Peruvian
Paso Arlene Margrino stated , " After traveling over three continents and
riding countless trails on every breed of horse ... I've found the end of
the rainbow. The Peruvian is by far the smoothest riding horse. I've ridden
them all and believe me this is it!" (Albright ,Peruvian). They are so
smooth that a common way to judge a show is to have each rider carry a
champagne glass and see who spills the least. Quite often nobody spills a
drop. The best thing about their gait or paso is that they pass it on to
one-hundred percent of their offspring. (Kiesow 28 Jan. 2005). Even a
Tennessee walking horse and other gaited horses seem bouncy compared to the
Peruvian ( Reusser).
The Peruvian has four unique four-beat gaits: The Walk, Paso Llano,
Sobreandando, and Huachano. These gaits are lateral instead of diagonal like
trotting horses and so the weight is more evenly distributed and little to
no movement is transferred to the rider which creates a smooth ride. These
gaits always include three feet on the ground at a time. Even though these
are their most common gaits, just like any horse the Peruvian can still
canter and gallop. ( Reusser).
Another quality that is unique to the Peruvian is a component called
termino. The word termino describes the front leg action that is similar to
that of a swimmer. This action creates a lot of front leg action without any
bounce transferred to the rider; Also it looks very beautiful because of how
high they pick up their feet( Reusser).
Another thing that makes the Peruvian a great all around horse is that it is
good for all types of people: old, young, big , little, experienced or not.
Because of their quiet disposition and dependability, anyone can handle
these horses. In most Peruvian shows, there are separate sections for
juniors because they are so good with children (Mindel 1989). Michele Ripley
even lets all her nieces and nephews ride her gelding and never has to worry
about them (Ripley 01 Feb. 2005). Carole Photaidis believe that, " the
younger the child, the more gentle the horse becomes. I have seen toddlers
on the Peruvians and the Peruvians acted as if their cargo was glass." Many
buy this breed as their first time horse, including retired people because
the Peruvian gives a nice smooth ride and is easy to handle. The Peruvian is
so easy to handle, in fact, that seventy-nine year old Rose Walker from
Oregon, and her mother who is one hundred years old often go on all day
rides on their Peruvians (Albright, Who). A Peruvian breeder said, "The
largest of stallions can be ridden by the smallest of children"( Hirthler
These horses are a joy because they can be therapeutic. Where most people
with back problems, hip problems, pregnancy, and many other heath problems
shouldn't ride horses, the Peruvian is actually good for them. Linda Garro
has chronic arthritis in her spine and hips. Throughout her life she had
always been a fox hunter but the doctors prohibited it because of her
arthritis. But since she has found the Peruvian she is able to ride again
with no pain. She even claims that her back feels better on days when she
rides. This is just one of countless other stories. Some doctors that know
about the Peruvian Paso even recommend the breed. (Albright, Who).
Because of the Peruvians unique body build it is very athletic and
versatile. The chest is wide and deep which allows a large breathing
capacity which improves endurance. The Peruvian also has an extremely sure
foot because of it's gait and the angle of the pasterns. The original
purpose of the breed was to cover a lot of ground while giving the smoothest
ride possible. The plantation owners could ride up to forty miles a day and
feel like they've only ridden one ( Mindel 1989). This horse was meant for
anything from the mountains, to the dessert, to the beach. Thanks to the
Peruvian Paso the great Andes mountains were conquered by man ( Hirther
1977). Some may argue that their small size might hinder their abilities but
on the contrary, it proves to be no disadvantage at all. They don't feel
small at all because their heart is so big. Their brio and the way they
carry themselves makes the rider feel as if they are riding a much larger
horse. Their size contributes to their agility. Their size was originally
preferred by the farmers because of the easy mounts and dismounts. They are
also much stronger than expected and can carry up to 250 pounds (Photiadis
06 Feb. 2005). A man from Idaho took a Peruvian on an elk hunt and after
another larger horse refused to pack an elk out of the rugged country, they
put the meat on the smaller Peruvian who not only brought the meat out , but
did it in record time (Albright , Peruvian). Another example is when rider
,Joan Box, attempted to compete her Peruvian on an endurance race and the
ride manager almost wouldn't let her come but she ended up being one of the
first to finish. Another competitor commented , " I think the Peruvians and
their riders should have to go back out and ride at least another hour. It's
only fair. The horses aren't tired, and neither are the riders!". Although
some think that the only uses for the Peruvian is for show. "Audrey
Gaisfield of Ranch Que Sabe often rides her most successful show horse on
the trail ( or would it be more correct to say that she uses her most
successful trail horse in the show arena?)" (Albright who). There is a
saying in Peru, " The Peruvian Paso is a work horse suitable for showing-
not a show horse suitable for working. (Albright who).
Peruvians can participate in many other activities as well. Some additional
activities in which they excel include showing, pleasure riding, parades,
endurance racing, drill teams, sidesaddle riding, polo, and just about
anything any other breed enjoys (Albright, Who). The Peruvian horse is
capable of preforming, at least moderately, in all activities and you can be
sure it will be the most beautiful horse participating. As Carole Photaidis
said, " There is no other breed that is close to the Peruvian. He is in a
class all of his own."
Therefore for being strictly rodeo queen, the Quarter horse is the best. For
only racing, the Thorough bred would be the best. For pulling a carriage,
the Clydesdale is great, but for the best all around horse that does a
little bit of everything and makes the most pleasurable friend, the Peruvian
Paso is perfect.
Albright,Verne. "History of the Peruvian Paso Horse." AAOBPPH. 20 Jan. 2005.
Albright, Verne. "Peruvian Paso Q. & A." Gaited Horses.net. 31 Jan. 2005.
Albright,Verne. "Verstility and the Peruvian Paso." Gaited Horses.net. 23
Jan. 2005. <http://www.gaitedhorses.net/Vern'sArticles/Versatility.htm>;.
Albright,Verne. "Who Buys Peruvian Paso's?". Gaited Horses.net. 7 Feb. 2005.
Kiesow,Annie. Email interview. 28 Jan. 2005.
Kruger, Brad. Email interview. 20 Feb. 2005.
Peruvian Paso. Hirthler, George. Bonilla, Hugo.Videocassette. LTD
Photiadis, Carole. Email interview. 5 Feb. 2005.
Reusser. "The Peruvian Paso Horse." Conquistador the World of Spanish
Horses. 7 Feb. 2005. <http://www.conquistador.com/peruvian_paso.html>;.
Ripley, Michele. Email interview. 1 Feb. 2005.
The Peruvian Paso Horse. Mindel, Dan. Knorzer,Gunther. Videocassette. Mindel
Windom, Barbara. Email interview. 25 Jan. 2005.