The Peruvian Paso Fino, horseback riding Huaraz

One of the draws of travelers to Peru is the Peruvian Paso Fino horse. This breed shares a long history of work, show and pride for Peru. This medium sized horse came at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Bred for distance, strength, stability and sturdiness, this horse was used historically by land overseers to cover great distances on the Haciendas. Today its purebred lineage is maintained by breeders, is widely used by rural farmers and for tourism.

They are often seen running wild in the Quebradas, threshing grain and walking on trails carrying goods and people into the countryside.. Farmers leave the horses in the Quebradas for most of the year, only taking them out to help with the harvest. A joy to watch from June to August, they form part of a team (which includes sheep, cows, and donkeys) that are positioned by weight and hoof size to thresh the wheat and other grains. Due to their work load, these horses may lack the roundness we love to see. However, they lead long and healthy lives and continue to be high spirited, social animals.

Used as a riding horse, this breed is characterized by a unique gait where 4 equal beats are performed laterally creating a non jolting ride that requires no posting and leaves the rider free of back or body discomfort. The “termino” (one of the terms used to describe this breed’s particular aspects), is characterized by the horses’ front lower legs rolling to the outside during the stride forward, is similar to the arms of a swimmer. The ‘brio’ is a contradictory term that combines the Paso’s arrogance, spirit, and a sense of always being on parade with a willingness to please the rider.

Discovering the Cordillera Blanca by horseback is increasing in popularity. Hourly rentals, day trips and overnights can be found around Caraz, Olleros , Yungar , and northeast of Huaraz (at the Lazy Dog Inn). The Lazy Dog Inn offers horse trips from 2 – 5 hours in the mountains behind them for their guests and non-guest riders as well. Call in advance for reservations.