Tennessee Valley

Paso Fino Horse Association


Membership ・ Competition ・ Recreation



Get to Know Us

The Tennessee Valley Paso Fino Horse Association, which is a regional association with the Paso Fino Horse Association, was founded in 1983. Over the years, we have grown from thirty-five charter members to nearly 100 members from Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Mississippi and North Carolina. We welcome members who are involved in all aspects of the breed, including competing in local, regional and national shows, training, trail riding and breeding the next generation of Paso Fino horses. We are an active, growing group, with more activities planned in the coming months. Please check back here often to see what we have planned for the upcoming year.


How We Began

Joe and Sue Denis started contacting Paso Fino owners in Tennessee in 1982. By 1983 there were enough owners to start a regional organization affiliated with the national Paso Fino Owners and Breeders and Breeders Association, Inc. now known as the Paso Fino Horse Association, Inc. A meeting was held at the Denis’ Whiskey Run Farm, and Bill Pallot was named to draw up a charter for the regional organization, which was given the name of Tennessee Valley Paso Fino Horse Association, Inc. A meeting was held on the May 14, 1983, at the Denis’ farm and the members present adopted the charter.

In 1984 our first regional show was held at the old MTSU livestock pavilion in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Bill Minter was the judge the first day, and Pat Geiger was the second day’s judge. The second regional show was held in 1985 in Decatur, Ala., at the Southeastern Sports Arena. Deborah McMahon judged the first day's show. John Britt judged the show on the second day, and the rains came! The stalls were some distance from the indoor arena, and all the time spent on grooming was totally wiped out by the rain. The horses came in the ring with manes and tails matted, muddy sand to their knees and the exhibitors were totally soaked. But that old “show spirit” surfaced and the people showed their horses as if it were a perfect day.

In 1986 the region organized a local, one-day all-breed show in Lawrenceburg, Ky. Dr. Caroline Ziegler judged the show. She also gave a short clinic on the conformation of the Paso Fino and proper Paso riding techniques. The region’s third show, in 1987, was held at the Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville, Tenn. Carmen Cepero judged the first day of the show, and Bill Davis was the second day’s judge. Beginning in 1988, shows were held in the new MTSU pavilion. In 1989 the region put on its first May show and another in July.  The spectacular new MTSU Livestock Pavilion was to serve as the region’s “home-base” arena for their regional horse shows. In 1990 the show featured the largest number of horses and entries to date, and drew horses as far away as Mississippi, Oklahoma, Florida, and even New York.  The region now holds 2 shows a year, one in Memphis is late April or early May and one in Murfreesboro (middle Tennessee) in August.

The Region has several trail rides a year. One of the first rides was held in the rolling landscape of
Su Casa Ranch, near Wartrace, Tenn.. The “horse-and-rider” social featured the gorgeous Middle Tennessee scenery, a relaxing outdoor lunch chuck-wagon style and even “horse favors” for the equine guests. Ensuing trail rides have been held at Big South Fork, Cedars of Lebanon, and the breathtaking Smoky Mountains and Land Between the Lakes. Trail ride participants enjoy the casual camaraderie with friends and horses alike and even the first-time trail rider feels comfortable by the end of the ride.

The Tennessee Horse Council’s Volunteer Horse Fair was held for the first time at the MTSU facility in 1990 and was held through 2007. It was an annual March event and and featured a breed parade, with the Paso Fino horses being one of the groups with the largest representation.

Now, some twenty years from Tennessee Valley’s modest beginning the region has grown in many ways. We have a number of members engaged in breeding and raising Paso Fino horses, and the resultant growth in horse population has insured that more Tennesseans are becoming Paso Fino enthusiasts. Most folks want that perfect pleasure mount, classy enough to look dazzling in either the backyard, on the trail or in the show ring. Tennessee Valley looks to the future with confidence, continuing to exhibit the “Volunteer Spirit” for which it is so well known.



Breed History

The Paso Fino horse’s journey to the Americas began more than 500 years ago with the importation of Andalusians, Spanish Barbs from North Africa, and smooth gaited Spanish Jennets (now extinct as a breed) to the "New World" by Spanish Conquistadors.   Bred for their stamina, smooth gait and beauty, "Los Caballos de Paso Fino" – the horses with the fine walk – served as the foundation stock for remount stations of the Conquistadors.   Centuries of selective breeding by those who colonized the Caribbean and Latin America produced variations of the "Caballo de Criollo," among them the Paso Fino that flourished initially in Puerto Rico and Colombia, and later, in many other Latin American countries (primarily Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Venezuela).   Descendents of the Conquistadors’ horses are believed to have spread into North America after the Spanish soldiers forayed for a brief time into this territory.   The modern-day mustang has traces of his Spanish forbears.   The Nez Perce Indian tribe, renowned for their expert horsemanship and sophisticated knowledge of breeding spotted horses, may have mixed some Spanish stock into their famous Appaloosas, whose name is derived from the Palouse River region of the Nez Perce’s tribal homeland in Oregon.   Awareness of the Paso Fino as we know it today didn’t spread outside Latin America until after WWII, when American servicemen came into contact with the stunning Paso Fino horse while stationed in Puerto Rico.   Americans began importing Paso Fino horses from Puerto Rico in the mid-1940s.   Two decades later, many Paso Fino horses began to be imported from Colombia.   For a while, there was some contention as to which country produced the "true" Paso Fino.   Though there are still some self-professed "purists" who advocate for one or the other country, the American Paso Fino - true to our "melting pot" tradition - is often a blend of the best of Puerto Rican and Colombian bloodlines.

-Courtesy of www.PFHA.org



Breed Standards

GENERAL IMPRESSION:  The Paso Fino reflects its Spanish heritage through its proud carriage, grace and elegance. Modern care and selective breeding have enhanced its beauty, refinement and well-proportioned conformation that convey strength and power without extreme muscling.  The Paso Fino is born with a gait unique to the breed and his attitude seems to transmit to the observer that this horse knows his gait is a very special gift that must be executed with style and pride!  The gait being totally natural, movements are smooth, rhythmic, purposeful, straight, balanced in flexion and synchronous front to rear, resulting in unequaled comfort and smoothness for the rider.  With its definite but controlled spirit, natural gait and presence, and responsive attitude, the Paso Fino is, indeed, a rare and desirable equine partner.

HEAD:  The head should be refined and in good proportion to the body of the horse, neither extremely small nor large with the preferred profile being straight. Eyes are large, dark and well spaced, very expressive and alert, and should not show excessive white around the edges. Ears are comparatively short, set close and curved inward at the tips. The lips should be firm and the nostrils large and dilatable. Jaws are defined but not extreme. The impression should be of a well-shaped alert and intelligent face.

NECK:  Gracefully arched medium in length and set on at an angle to allow high carriage, breaking at the poll. Throat latch should be refined and well defined.

FOREHAND:  Shoulders are sloping into the withers with great depth through the heart. Chest is moderate in width. Withers are defined but not pronounced and slope smoothly into the back.

MID-SECTION:  Moderate in length with a well-sprung rib cage. Top line should be proportionately shorter than the underline. The back should be strong and muscled. The mid-section should join the forehand and the hindquarters so as to give the horse a pleasing proportioned appearance.

HIND QUARTERS:  Croup is slightly sloping with rounded hips, broad loins and strong hocks. Tail is carried gracefully when horse is in motion.

LEGS:  Straight with refined bones and strong, well-defined tendons. Broad, long forearms with shorter cannons. Thigh and gaskin are strong and muscled, but not exaggerated. Standing slightly under in the rear is acceptable. Pasterns are sloping, and medium in length. Bones are straight, sound and flat, and joints are strong and well defined. Hooves are well rounded, proportionate in size and do not show excessive heel.

MANE, TAIL, & FORELOCK:  As long, full and luxurious as nature can provide. No artificial additions or alterations are allowed. A bridle path not exceeding 4” is acceptable.

SIZE:  13 to 15.2 hands with 13.3 to 14.2 being the most typical. Weight from 700 to 1100 pounds. Full size may not be attained until the fifth year.

COLOR:  Every equine color is found, with or without white markings.

DISPOSITION:  An extremely willing horse that truly seems to enjoy human companionship and strives to please. Spirited and responsive under tack; sensible and gentle at hand.

GAIT:  The gait of the Paso Fino is totally natural and normally exhibited from birth. It is an evenly spaced 4-beat gait with each foot contacting the ground independently in a regular sequence at precise intervals creating a rapid, unbroken rhythm. When executed perfectly the four hoof beats are absolutely even in both cadence and impact. The Paso Fino gait is performed at three forward speeds and with varying degrees of collection. In all speeds of the gait the rider should appear virtually motionless in the saddle and there should be no perceptible up and down movement of the horses croup.

Walk: an evenly spaced four beat gait, cadenced, straight, animated and rhythmic. In the Performance Division, the walk is performed with collection. In the Pleasure Division, the Flat Walk is called for and performed with moderate collection and extension.

Paso Corto: an evenly spaced four beat lateral gait with moderate forward speed and extension---smooth, supple, cadenced. In the Performance Division the corto is performed with collection. In the Pleasure Division, it is performed with moderate collection.

Paso Largo: an evenly spaced four beat lateral gait, smooth and balanced with rapid forward motion. In the Performance Division the largo is performed with collection. In the Pleasure Division, it is performed with moderate collection.

Classic Fino: an evenly spaced four-beat lateral gait. Smooth, animated, exciting and executed with brilliance and style, fully collected and balanced, putting its complete dynamic energy into its carriage and the quickness of its footfall. Extension is absolutely minimum and forward speed is extremely slow, whereas the footfall is exceedingly rapid.

The Paso Fino can execute other gaits natural to horses in addition to the Paso Fino gait.


Classes & Divisions

CONFORMATION CLASS:  The horse must demonstrate the Paso Fino or Paso Corto gait whenever moving. Entry will be judged 60% on conformation; 30% on quality and naturalness of gait; and 10% on appearance, grooming and manners. All entries are shown in a leather show halter (no bit) with single or double lines attached with either one or two handlers. The official Paso Fino Show outfit is required.

CONFORMATION CHAMPIONSHIP CLASS:  To be eligible, horses must have placed first or second in the Conformation Class listed above appropriate to his/her age group. Judging specifications are the same as in regular class.

CLASSIC FINO:  Horses are required to perform the fully collected Classic Fino gait at all times. Horses must work both directions, reverse, halt and proceed in gait. A sounding board should be used to clearly exhibit the rhythmic consistency of the cadence and impact. Entries may be asked to individually perform the Fino gait in a figure eight. To be judged 75% on performance at the Classic Fino gait and smoothness; 15% on appearance, conformation and way of going; and 10% on manners. English tack is required. Schooling horses may wear training headgear. Attire is the official Paso Fino Show outfit.

CLASSIC FINO CHAMPIONSHIP:  To be eligible, horses must have been properly entered, shown and judged in one of the Classic Fino classes.

PASO PERFORMANCE CLASS:  Horses are to be shown at a Paso Corto, a Paso Largo and a collected walk in that sequence and then reverse and repeat. Horses should be alert and show definite but controlled spirit. Increase in speed from corto to a largo should be easily detected. To be judged 30% on performance at the Paso Corto; 30% on performance at the Paso Largo; 10% on performance at the walk; 20% on appearance, conformation and way of going and 10% on manners. Special attention shall be afforded to form, smoothness and rhythmic constancy of the gaits. English tack required. Schooling horses may be shown in training headgear. Attire is to be the official Paso Fino outfit.

PASO PERFORMANCE CHAMPIONSHIP:  To be eligible, horses must have been properly entered, shown and judged in one of the performance classes.

PASO PLEASURE CLASS:  Horses are to be shown at a Paso Corto, Paso Largo and a walk, in that sequence, then reverse and repeat. Horses are to go in a more relaxed manner than in performance class. To be judged 25% on performance at a Paso Corto; 25% on performance at the Paso Largo; 10% performance at the walk and 40% on manners, conformation, attitude and a way of going. Refusal to back disqualifies the horse from placement. The tack and headgear for the horse may be of any variety that would be in good taste. Rider’s attire shall consist of a long sleeved shirt, full-length trousers, tailored jacket or vest, hat and riding boots. Women may wear skirts, culottes or gaucho pants that are long enough to cover the knees while seated in a saddle along with knee-high boots.

PASO PLEASURE CHAMPIONSHIP:  To be eligible, horses must have been properly entered, shown and judged in one of the Paso Pleasure classes.

PASO TRAIL CLASS:  The course is to include a minimum of six obstacles and a maximum of eight. Horses are shown individually through the obstacles, after which the horses will be lined up and asked to back. The class is to be judged 100% on the obstacle course. Horses not properly performing the obstacles and the gaits required shall be excused. Tack and dress may be either Western Pleasure or the Paso Pleasure.

PASO COSTUME CLASS OPEN:  Horses will demonstrate their favorite Paso gait and stand in a line-up on display. To be judged 80% on attractiveness of costuming and appropriateness and completeness of the costuming idea; 10% on the brilliance of the gait and carriage and 10% on manners. Costume should depict the Latin American or Spanish origins and history of the breed. Entries must submit a brief statement (100 words or less) on the cultural significance of their costumes.

PASO WESTERN PLEASURE OPEN:  Horses to be shown at a Paso Corto, walk, lope, walk, reverse and repeat in that sequence. Horses will be required to back. To be judged 35% on the performance at the Paso Corto: 30% on the performance at the lope; 10% on performance of the flat walk and 25% on manners, attitude and way of going. Tack must consist of Western tack and Western outfit.

PASO VERSATILITY:  Horses are to be shown at a collected Paso Corto, collected Paso Largo, collected walk, collected canter, walk and reverse in that sequence. Horses are required to execute a figure eight at a corto and to back. To be judged 20% on the performance at the canter and 40% on the back, jump, manners and figure eight. Attire is to be English pleasure, as defined in Paso Pleasure Division.

EQUITATION:  These classes are primarily held in the Youth Division, but in recent years Adult Equitation classes have been added. It is to be judged 100% on equitation. Results as shown by the performance of the horse are not to be considered more important than the method used in obtaining them. Horses shown in this class will perform the required Paso gaits. The attire is to be the official Paso Fino Show outfit and tack to be English.

COUNTRY PLEASURE:  The Paso Fino Country Pleasure Horse should be a calm, mild-mannered, safe, using pleasure horse maintaining balance, ease and freedom of movement. It must demonstrate flawless manners. This class is judged 20% on Walk; 20% on Corto; 20% on Largo; 10% on appearance and way of going and 20% on manners. Class requirements include a back from the line-up, dismount from the left, walk around the front of the horse, remount from the right side and return to the line-up. Tack and attire shall be the same as described in the Pleasure Division.



Upcoming Events

Paso Fino Horse Association, Inc. 2017 Judges & Stewards Education Clinic

You are cordially invited to attend and audit the upcoming judge’s & steward’s clinic at startown stable in Newton, NC on February 11 & 12, 2017. Please come join us and observe the training that all our PFHA judges and stewards are required to have per the PFHA Rule Book. Take this opportunity to meet and visit with our licensed officials.
The host hotel is Holiday Inn Express of Hickory
(828) 328-2081
2250 US Highway 70 SE
Hickory, NC 28602
Rate $99 + taxes per night
This hotel is less than 5 minutes from the farm and close to many shops and restaurants.
The cost to audit is $50.00
This may help you understand and answer some questions about the judging process and our steward’s responsibilities.
For more information, contact Rick Meyer, Chair of J&S Education & Clinic - (314) 520-5707
“The more you know; the better you show!”
Hope you can attend!

Download Clinic Information and Reservation



Board Members


Stella Hixson


Vice President

Norman Timbs


Drew Phillips



Lee Ann Williams-Maley


Mary Beth Roland

Hollis Gammon

Bobby Hall

Lynn Burke

Deanie Yoest

National Delegate

Norman Timbs

 Executive Committee

Stella Hixson

Mary Beth Roland

Hollis Gammon


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