Puerto Rico's Paso Fino Horse:
The Epitome of Elegance in World Horsemanship
Puerto Rico's unique and magnificent Paso
Fino ("fine step") horses are among its national treasures.
The history of this outstanding species dates back many centuries
when, some theorize, Mongols introduced this awesome beast's
earliest ancestor into what is now the Arab world. The species
developed into what is now known as the Arabian horse, which
reached North Africa as part of the many Arab conquests and gave
way to yet another breed, the Berberisco (Berber). This
specimen arrived in southern Spain during the Muslim expansion of
the first millennium A.D. and paved the way for its famed
By the late 15th century, Spaniards came to what they
would eventually call Puerto Rico. The first cows and horses were
brought in the early 1500s from Hispaniola (now Haiti and the
Dominican Republic) as part of the colonization process, and Puerto
Rico became a sort of strategic bridge from which horses, used in
military conquests, were sent to many parts of the Latin American
continent in order to claim those territories for the Spanish
Captain Martin de Salazar first brought horses in
1510 under the orders of Puerto Rico's first governor, Don Juan
Ponce de Leòn. Through centuries of horse-racing, breeding,
and competitions, the modern Paso Fino only emerged in the
first part of the 20th century. In 1935, Dulce Sueño (Sweet Dream) was introduced to the world by his owner Don Genaro
Cautiño Insua at a fair in his native town of Guayama.
Dulce Sueño is considered the undisputed standard by
which all other horses are measured, and father of modern
Paso Fino horses in Puerto Rico.
Paso Fino horses may come in different
colors, but the darker ones are preferred; the body must have a
medium volume with well-distributed musculature, fine long hair,
and a strong skeleton. Its temperament is ideally docile, but
proud and elegant. Its pace is short, rhythmic smooth, and
For decades, a number of competitions and exhibitions
have proven the excellent quality of the Paso Fino to the
world. One of the biggest concerns of horse owners is protecting
the animal's racial purity in its homeland. The Paso Fino is undoubtedly born, not made, for its steps and movements are
literally inherited from generation to generation.
Project documentation includes an 11-page report, and
a video entitled "Puerto Rico's Paso Fino Horses."
Originally submitted by: Carlos Romero-Barcelo, Delegate (At Large).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.