South Carolina 5 year old Paso Fino ridden in bosal and sport saddle in ring and round pen by intermediate rider.

Question: Just wanted to know if Paso Finos were physically capable of flying lead changes?

From Panelist Carol

Hi I have never tried to get a flying lead change out of a paso, but I have with a walker, as have several friends of mine, and it's much, much harder  to get lead changes with gaited breeds than to get a flying lead change out of a trotting breed horse.  Your test might be to observe him in the pasture when he's galloping and see if you can spot him doing a COMPLETE flying lead change.  That's when the rear and front change almost simultaneously, with no strides in between.  If he can do it by himself, he's probably a pretty good candidate to do it with you on his back.  If he never does it by himself, it probably isn't natural for him to do lead changes and you'd be better off selecting another horse if you want to do lead changes.

Carol Camp Tosh 

From Panelists Erica

Yes Paso Finos are capable of flying lead changes.
Erica Frei

From Panelists Stella

Many Pasos have delightfully a smooth canter and/or lope, in which they are just as agile as they are in their gaits. I personally have had no problem teaching a flying lead change to those I've trained to perform a canter or lope on correct leads. Like any other breed, you want a firm foundation in correct leads, collection, and simple changes first, then go on to a flying change.


From Panelist Annette

Does your horse canter at liberty or under saddle? If the answer to either of those is Yes, then the answer to your question is Yes, also. You may wonder about the horse cantering under saddle, since many Pasos are not asked to canter under saddle here in the United States. Go to the Caribbean or Central America as I have and ride the native Pasos there, or watch them being used to work cattle, and you will see and feel horses that are quite
capable of cantering, indeed flat out galloping, without compromising the intermediate 4 beat gaits. The key to having a horse that both works in clean intermediate 4 beat gaits and the canter is the rider knowing how to *ask the horse for each gait desired. The horse knows how to do them. It is the riders that frequently do not know how to ask. It is because in the Spanish cultures, the art of horsemanship, especially as it relates to the
gaited breeds, has never been lost, while here in North America both the horses and the art of riding them is not a part of the culture.

An exception to the above are horses that are so genetically and conformationally locked into lateral gait, hard pacers, that they are about incapable of cantering. They pace under saddle, they pace at liberty, and if you ask them to speed up in an effort to break them to the canter, they just pace faster. I have seen such horses, very open angled in the hocks, short cannon bones, cat hammed, long backed with long loins making them even longer and weaker in the back. They just plain pace, especially with a rider's weight right on top of that long weak loin. Getting them to do anything other than the pace is difficult at best, and takes a great deal of determination, time and work on the part of both horse and rider. Even in the Standardbred breed, though, where such hard pacers are desired, the horses on the track use a type of harness that encourages them to stay in the pace, and not break out of it to a canter. Most horses of the breeds bred to do evenly timed intermediate 4 beat gaits are not such hard pacers, though, that they can not be cantered under saddle if the rider knows how to ask for that gait in addition to the intermediate gaits. The other exception that I have seen are horses that just plain never move out of a 4 beat gait.
I have seen horses so genetically and conformational programmed for 4 beat gait that they never even canter at liberty. They are also not common, though. The majority of horses will canter at liberty if given a chance and the incentive to do so, and if they do, then they will have the physical capability to do the flying lead changes that are a natural part of being able to canter and not fall on their nose when they change direction.


From Panelist Lee

The wonderful answer is:  "it depends" -- It depends on whether the horse can canter well on both leads,  in an even 3 beat canter (no four beat of pace canter) whether he can do so in a collected way (weight to the rear, hindquarters lowered from the lumbo sacral junction) and whether he knows how to do simple lead changes.  Not all Paso Finos are built to do this sort of thing (back, neck, hindquarters conformation works against it for many) and fewer are "wired" to do this (their neural pathways are not "greased" to
allow the canter).    In addition, it also depends on the type of flying change you are after --a  change in front type, or the correct, change in the air at the moment of suspension,  first in the hind type. 

Have I ever seen a Paso Fino do a correct flying change (correct in the dressage sense)?  No. Does that mean that none of them can do it?  Of course not.  But I doubt that the vast majority can -- they are not bred for that, especially the ones that specialize in fino fino movement.  If you want good flying changes, a better bet is to ask for them from a horse that is bred to canter well in the first place.


Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Jonathan

Since I don't teach cues for them in my horse routine and my registry has no call for it in any class , I am unfamiliar with the possibility and will have to reply from some good old common horse sense . Hopefully I will be in line with a fellow panelist with experience ;) .

I would say that even though a Paso Fino of the classic style is limited to some activity , the flying lead change is excited at the canter . So as long as your Paso Fino will canter I'm going to assume it can be taught . After all , I believe just about any horse can be taught 
almost anything , and this exercise being no exception .



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