I love horses for their beauty and power. But the few hours I’ve spent riding left me so sore from bouncing up and down that I could barely get out of bed the next day. At my age, I’ll probably never be much of a rider. But just once, I would like to ride a Peruvian Paso.
The Peruvian Paso is a light saddle horse known for its gentle disposition and smooth ride. The breed is distinguished by a unique four-beat gait called the paso llano, in which the front and back legs on the same side move forward together (most horses move the legs on opposite sides together). The result is a ride as comfortable as a rocking chair.
This gait isn’t taught, it’s natural to the breed. Foals move this way as soon as they’re able to run. So how and why does this happen?
Smooth-gaited horses, known as Palfreys, existed in the Middle Ages, as well as the Jennet, noted for its ambling gaits. Peruvian Pasos trace their ancestry back to these horses, as well as to the Barb, which contributed strength and stamina, and to the Andalusian, which added style, conformation and action.
The first horses arrived in Peru during the Spanish Conquest in the 1500’s. More bloodstock came from Spain, Jamaica, Panama and other areas of Central America. As the big haciendas and plantations developed, the owners and overseers needed a horse they could ride long hours and distances. Over time, Peruvian breeders kept the bloodlines clean and selectively bred for gait, conformation and temperament. They wanted strong, hardy animals that were comfortable to ride and easy to control. Over four centuries, their dedication to breeding only the best gaited bloodstock resulted in the modern Peruvian Paso.
To appreciate this amazing gait, you’ll want to see it in motion. This video shows a group of Peruvian Pasos performing in a show. Notice the part where the riders gallop around the ring holding filled wine glasses.
Have you ever seen a Peruvian Paso? Do you have a horse, or have you ever wanted one?
My July Harlequin Desire book, THE SANTANA HEIR is set in Peru. My hero, a Peruvian millionaire playboy who suddenly finds himself in charge of the family empire, raises Peruvian Pasos on his estate. My heroine, who was tragically injured by a horse in her teens, regains her love of riding by working with these beautiful animals.
Next month, after my author copies arrive, I’ll give you an excerpt and a giveaway. Meanwhile, you can learn more about the story on my website, or on amazon.com, where the book is available now for pre-order.
Here’s a link.