Cuban Paso


PetMD Editorial

Published Dec. 20, 2009

The Cuban Paso, or Cuban gaited horse, ranges from small to average size and is commonly used for riding. Its lateral gait is referred to as marcha or andaduras.


Physical Characteristics


The Cuban Paso measures about 13.3 to 15 hands high (53-60 inches, 135-152 centimeters). Its profile is straight and its head is small and refined; its eyes, however, are large and luminous. The Cuban Paso has well-sprung ribs, a brawny chest, and a sloped, broad, and muscular coup. The knees are are noticeably large and strong, while the tendons are clearly-defined. It walks in a smooth and fluid lateral, four-beat gait. All in all, the Cuban Paso's conformation is very pleasing to the eye.


Personality and Temperament


The Cuban Paso is lively and animated. It is full of energy and vigor. Furthermore, it responds well to its rider’s commands.


History and Background


It wasn't until Christopher Columbus' second voyage to Cuba that horses arrived to the island. These horses eventually became the main stock from which all known Cuban breeds have descended.


In the case of the Cuban Paso, however, the Spanish influence is greater. When the Spanish Conquistadors came to Cuba, they brought Spanish horses with them. The Spaniards’ foray in Cuba laid waste to and nearly decimated the Indian population in the area. As a result, no one was left to care for the horses. Therefore, the Spanish horses were allowed to roam freely in the countryside and they became wild.


The horses, left to fend for themselves, adapted to their environment. These Spanish horses evolved into a distinct breed and learned to flourish in the Cuban climate and terrain. The result of natural selection within the Spanish horse stock is now known as the Cuban Paso. Although it is hardier than its ancestors and locally acclimated, it is obvious that the Cuban Paso is a descendant of the Jennet. Evolution did not eliminate the distinct characteristic for which the Jennet breed is famous -- the marcha or lateral gait.


The Spanish Conquest was not limited to Cuba. Thus, Cuba’s neighbors all have their own Paso horses. However, the unique environment of each country led to the evolution of a distinct Paso horse breed. Since each country also jealously guarded the purity of its own Paso horse and little interbreeding between countries’ Paso horses was done, each Paso has generally remained distinct from that of its neighbors. Thus, the Cuban Paso is similar to, but still a different breed from, its neighboring countries’ Paso horses.

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