Puerto Ricans are among the most passionate horseriders in the world, immensely proud of their unique, island-bred Paso Finos. Despite rapid modernization, you’ll come across locals (often sporting baseball caps and mobile phones) steering their horses along busy roads in towns and villages all over the island, families joining cabalgatas (group day rides) organized on weekends in mountain towns and serious international competitions held here every year.
Horses were introduced to Puerto Rico by the Spanish, the Paso Fino evolving as a cross-breed of the Andalusian, North African Barb and Spanish Jennet. Although the horse also emerged in Colombia, only the Puerto Rican Paso Fino has the tantalizing four-phase gait that makes it so valuable: other show horses have to be taught the walk, but Paso Finos are born with it. Bred all over the world today, Paso Finos are fast learners and extremely responsive, making them a pleasure to ride.
Unless you have local horse-loving friends, the best way to experience the smooth, fine walk of a Paso Fino is to visit a ranch such as Rancho Buena Vista, where experienced guides take groups out on well-trained horses. You can also check out 4 Tiempos (t1-888/4843-6767, wwww.4tiempos.com), the world’s largest Paso Fino magazine, for the latest reviews of horses, shows, and events from around the world, and including what’s going on in Puerto Rico.