“Brio in the Bluegrass,” the Paso Fino Horse Association’s 40th Anniversary Grand National Championship Show & Expo, was acclaimed a great success in its first year in Lexington, KY.
For almost two weeks, the Kentucky Horse Park paths and arenas were awash with the taca-taca-taca-taca of the Paso Fino horse’s smooth four-beat gait as exhibitors prepared to compete for the ultimate title—Grand National Champion—in the Classic Fino, Performance, Pleasure, and Specialty classes.
More than 550 Paso Finos came to Lexington from all corners of the United States and Canada. The Five Judge Equitable Olympic scoring system was used for the first time this year, and the judges worked intensely through the necessary phases to ensure placement of the “best” in each class. Horses close in placement were asked to complete various work-offs which included tightly gaited figure-eights, side by side work at the rail, and additional passes down the sounding board. Competitors battled through each successive phase and strove to keep their horses in even rhythm as several classes lasted for an hour or more.
The stands were full of spectators the final weekend of the show as the championships in Fino and Performance classes took place. Friends and family members who did not attend the show, both here and abroad, could watch all the classes on live streaming. Those classes and events will be uploaded free for future viewing on demand at http://www.PFHALive.com
Visitors who stopped in to see the action were amazed as the quickest stepping Paso Fino horses traversed down the sounding board with the “noise of fast-pounding drums,” as some were heard describing it. Blankets of flowers, ribbons, and trophies adorned the newly crowned Grand National Champions as the joyous winner posed for pictures confirming each successive accomplishment. These trappings of success could be seen displayed proudly from stalls of the largest training farms as well as the individual Amateur Owner with a single horse.
PFHA President Lee Vulgaris gave the Kentucky Horse Park and Rick Meyer, Show Chairman, as well as his committee, rousing congratulations for the success, enthusiasm, excitement, and publicity of this event. Owners couldn’t help but share their happiness that the Paso Fino was being showcased in front of a new audience of horse lovers, many who had never even heard of the breed. Vulgaris exclaimed, “We have stepped up to the Horse Capital of the World and raised the level of our show for all our members. This show was beyond our expectations. We will see you all back in Lexington next year!”
Not only did the Paso Fino horses show their brilliance in the show ring, they also displayed their magnificent versatility in the recreational division. This component was expanded in its second year and spotlighted the breed in a vast array of exciting activities including speed events, freestyle exhibitions, obstacle courses, guided trail rides, clinics, and the ever-popular Largo Race. The full spectrum of Paso Fino versatility was on display, from the extended stride of the pleasure trail horses, to the swift gallop of the speed horses, all the way to the tight collection of the Classic Fino show horses. The best of the breed was in attendance along with the finest riders and trainers!
On Friday and Saturday, the public got the chance to “Ride a Paso Fino” during the PFHA’s free ride program and even exhibitors from other shows lined up after hearing about the program. One woman drove over 6 hours for the chance to ride, and another exclaimed that she understood “the Paso Fino smile” from the moment she first sensed the horse’s smooth gait. The Ride a Paso Fino program was so popular that more and more horses were needed to fill the demand of the eager riders. Newcomers expressed amazement to learn that the quick and smooth step is completely natural to the Paso Fino and even the youngest foals demonstrate the four-beat gait.
Our 40th Anniversary Grand National Championship Show & Expo could not have enjoyed this outstanding level of success without the generous financial support from our Corporate Sponsors. The Besilu Collection, Energy Equine Insurance, Kuda Saddlery & Tack, and Ortho-Flex Saddles, in addition to many Farm Sponsors from across the country, provided the funds with which we were able to present our Paso Fino horses in this fitting environment.
The 2013 Grand National Show will return to the Kentucky Horse Park next fall, and everyone is invited to join the competition. The latest information about the 2013 show can be found at http://www.pfha.org
The Paso Fino is a gaited breed of horse that is popular for having a sweet temperament yet spirited nature (called “brio”) under saddle, but most of all for having the smoothest ride in the world. Perfect for all riders, especially youth, these horses have the versatility required for any number of disciplines. Paso Finos naturally prefer their unique, smooth gait, but can also walk, canter, and even gallop like non-gaited breeds.