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.