At Sundown we believe in traveling in style and comfort... It is for this reason that we breed and raise gaited horses. Gaited horses have a smooth way of traveling that other horses do not possess. The foot fall sequence is neither a diagonal like a trot, nor a lateral like a pace. Instead a gaited horses feet move in a sequence that is somewhere in between these two extremes. A gaited horse has a four beat movement that is much like a sped up version of the walk. When a horse is gaiting, each of their feet move independently. There is never a point in gait when all four of the horse’s feet are off the ground. Because there is always at least one foot on the ground, there is no suspension, and there is no vertical movement transmitted to the rider. Although gaits may vary a little bit between each breed and each individual horse, all gaited horses are very smooth to ride. The two types of horses that we breed are the Paso Fino and the Gaited Stock Horses.
The history of the Paso Fino began in the Caribbean, where three Spanish horse breeds - the Barb, the Andalusian and the Spanish Jennet - were blended to create one of the world's most unique equine athletes. Used as a foundation stock for remount stations of the Conquistadors, these horses were bred to carry their riders for days over mountains trails, open range, and dense jungles. These smooth gaited horses were a vital link in the exploration and conquest of a whole new world.
Because of their endurance, and their exceptionally comfortable, four beat gait, these unique horses were highly coveted, and soon spread throughout Latin America. The Spanish Land Barons of the new world, continued to use selective breeding to improve their unique horses, and over time they created one of the most consistently gaited breeds in the world. The traveling gait of these hardy horses proved to be so smooth that they became known as “Los Caballos de Paso Fino”… the horse with the fine step.
Although these horses were bred for years in the Caribbean they were virtually unknown in North America until the late 1940's. That is when the first Paso Finos were brought to North America. It has taken a while for this breed to get known, but now the Paso Fino horse is gaining a lot of popularity among knowledgeable horse enthusiasts. A lot of people know that the Paso Fino is a fabulous show horses, but most people do not realize what a very versatile breed this is. The Paso Fino excels in trail riding, long distance and endurance events, driving, cutting, gymkhana, team sorting and team penning. These are very intelligent horses and they learn new things quickly so you can do almost anything with them! However, we think the very best thing about this breed is, the way their smooth-as-glass ride carries you down the trail in total comfort, and leaves you grinning from ear to ear!
Gaited Stock Horses
Although gaited horse enthusiast have traditionally been English riders, in the last few years we have seen people with more diverse equine backgrounds become interested in gaited horses. There has been a huge demand for a bigger hard working ranch horse that is smooth to ride. With this in mind we started looking for a stock type stallion to add to our breeding program.
It has been a long search as we discovered that there are very few stock horses that have a natural single footed gait. However, we did discovered that there are a few foundation Appaloosa lines that still occasionally produce horses with an unusually smooth four beat gait. This unique gait is actually genetic gift that traces back to the Appaloosa's Spanish ancestry.
Today’s Appaloosa horses traces back to the first gaited equines brought to the New World by the Conquistadors. Some of the horses imported by these Spanish explorers carried the spotted coloration that is the hallmark of today’s Appaloosas. Over the years a few of the Conquistadors horses escaped into the wilds. The North American continent proved to be an ideal procreation grounds, and the escapees thrived. Over time the descendants of these spotted, gaited horses, made their way into north and west portions of the continent. The Nez Percé Indians, who inhabited areas of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, were first introduced to these unique horses around 1700 A.D.
The Nez Percé became accomplished horsemen and they were great admirers of spotted coat patterns. These Native Americans began a unique selective breeding program that lead to the development of vast herds of these colourful spotted horses.The most highly prized of the Nez Percé horses were distinguished not only by their spotted coat pattern, but also by their easy riding gait. Later this gait was dubbed the Indian Shuffle. The "shuffle" is a four-beat, ground-covering, intermediate gait, that is exceptionally smooth.
In the spring of 2006, after a few years of searching, Sundown managed to purchased a wonderful young Appaloosa colt that was diplayed a bit of the “Indian Shuffle.” This young stallion, Stormin Rain Spirit, is big beautiful and has a wonderful foundation pedigree. We are very excited about this young stallion because not only is he from gaited lines, but he is also homozygous for the spotted coat pattern. By crossing our foundation Appaloosa colt with our Paso Fino mares, we intend to produce big solid working horses that travel with a super smooth four beat gait! As an added bonus, these foals will all have the colourful coat patterns that the Appaloosa's are so well known for. Our breeding program blends the super smooth ride and endurance of gaited horses, with the size, muscle, and work ethic of stock horses.
Although our Paso / Appy cross foals will be registered with the Pleasure Saddle Horse Registry, or the Tiger Horse Association, we will always think of these fantastic equines athletes as
Gaited Stock Horses!