VERSATILITY AND THE PERUVIAN PASO
by Verne R. Albright
 
 
      Several years ago prior to the Peruvian Paso Breeders Guild Show in 
Odessa, Texas, a pre-show press conference was held at the luxurious 
Radisson Hotel. A group of Texas Breeders brought three Peruvian horses 
to liven up the proceedings for the television cameras, radio deejays and 
newspaper reporters who were on hand. 

After the horses had been unloaded, a reporter approached Joan Box, who 
had brought one of them. 

"The interviewers and photographers are all set up and waiting for the 
horses in the lobby," he announced. 

"Inside the hotel?" Joan asked quizzically. Mentally she pictured the 
double set of glass doors and the stairway that led down to the lobby. 
"That might be a problem." 

One thing led to another, and Joan's group decided to give it a try. The 
horses walked through the double doors, down the flight of stairs and 
into the lobby with calm self-assurance. 

"Are they staying in the room next to mine?" one man asked. "I sure hope 
so. They have a lot better manners that the people who were there last 
night!" 

The little publicity stunt was designed to attract attention, and that it 
did in more ways than one. The reception area was soon full of people 
looking at something they most certainly hadn't expected in a hotel 
lobby. Among the spectators was a wide-eyed group of tourists from Japan. 

The press conference lasted an hour, and the horses' behavior was 
perfect. In fact, The Peruvians were so good that hotel officials invited 
them back again for the following year's pre-show press conference. 

The event ended with a round of enthusiastic applause from the lobby full 
of spectators. 

Answering the question that must be foremost in everyone's mind: none of 
the three horses made a mess of any sort in the hotel lobby. However, no 
one is in any way claiming this to be a hereditary characteristic of 
Peruvians! 

Once the horses were outside, one of the Japanese tourists was offered a 
ride; and immediately a line formed. The Japanese weren't the only people 
who wanted to try out the smooth-riding Peruvians. Everyone who wanted a 
ride was accommodated. Not too surprisingly, traffic slowed down on two 
nearby freeways as motorists did double (and triple!) takes. 

The amazing thing was that all three of the participating horses were 
show horses, and two were Champions. Those who saw them in the show arena 
a few days later were treated to high-stepping, fire-breathing, 
show-stopping excitement. Watching them in competition, it was hard to 
believe that the same horses had calmly walked inside a busy hotel and 
then given pony rides to tourists on a crowded sidewalk. I know of few 
breeds where this would be typical of high performance show horses. 

Peruvian Paso horses are so beautiful that it's easy to assume they're 
hothouse flowers. Lynn Kinsky of Santa Ynez, California, met a number of 
people who made that mistake when she began riding Peruvians in NATRC 
(North American Trail Ride Conference) sanctioned rides. 

Lynn had been breeding Peruvians for ten years, but normally her 
stepdaughter did most of the riding. One day Lynn decided that she, 
herself, was going to do a lot more riding. She applied to join a 
Peruvian Paso demonstration group and was told -- politely but clearly -- 
that her riding horse, a gelding named El Sinchi Roca, wasn't quite good 
enough to represent his breed in front of the public. 

"After Sinchi and I had been laughed at one time too many, I decided to 
take my own path," Lynn remembers. "I started riding and riding and 
riding. A fellow at work had been urging me to get involved in distance 
riding, and I took his advice. Before long, I decided this was an 
activity where Sinchi could do a very nice job of representing his 
breed." 

So Lynn began a career which has so far seen her complete over 50 NATRC 
rides! She describes NATRC rides as being: "in effect a 'road rally' on 
horseback, rather than a race. It's an activity that basically simulates 
what the Peruvian horse was originally bred to do, and the fact that 
Peruvians are incredibly comfortable is a big bonus for the rider!" 

"From the beginning, the NATRC old-timers were extremely helpful and 
courteous," she remembers, "but it was easy to see that they didn't think 
Sinchi would last out his first season." 

Sinchi did better than that. He became the first Peruvian Paso to earn a 
1,000-mile award, and he has logged a total of 1,710 miles at the time of 
this writing. Four different years, he was 5th in the year-end standings 
for the Open Heavyweight Division in Region 2 of the NATRC. On the way to 
his best-ever year in 1993 -- and in strong contention for a National 
Championship -- Sinchi was kicked by another horse and suffered a broken 
foreleg. 

The foreleg was pinned; and thanks to expert veterinary attention, it 
eventually healed well enough that Sinchi returned to competition; but 
the long recovery period had taken its toll. Sinchi never quite returned 
to his previous form and was subsequently retired at 16 years of age. 

"He's now my pleasure horse, my parade horse, the horse that gets ridden 
by ranch guests, the 'teach other horses that trail obstacles are O.K. 
horse', as well as the horse I use for ribboning and timing two NATRC 
rides for which I'm the trailmaster," Lynn reports. 

Lynn meanwhile began using her breeding mares for NATRC competition. 

"I make it a point to compete with my breeding mares in NATRC, as a way 
of determining their strength and temperament before using them to create 
the next generation of horses," Lynn says. 

To date, the most successful of her mares has been Cori Ocllo. In the 
only year she competed, Cori was fourth in the annual standings for the 
Open Heavyweight Division in Region 2. Since then, she's produced three 
foals. At 15 years of age, Cori still has a long list of duties (besides 
producing foals!) on the Kinsky's Rancho Libertad. Another of Lynn's 
mares, Pisco Cereza was first place among Novice Junior Horses at her 
first NATRC ride, and her full sister Rosa Blanca, logged 180 miles 
during her first year in NATRC competition. 

Lynn is the kind of person who likes to continually challenge herself; 
and during the coming year, she plans to expand into endurance races 
where the distances are longer and the pace faster. Her immediate goal is 
to have Rosa Blanca complete at least 300 miles in AERC (American 
Endurance Ride Conference) sanctioned rides of 50 miles or more. If she 
does this, Rosa will become the second Peruvian horse to qualify for 
registration in the EHRA (Endurance Horse Registry of America). Her sire, 
Domecq, was the first. 

"Even though endurance rides are basically a race," Lynn advises, "my 
goal is to accumulate high mileage not to be first across the finish 
line not that I'd mind if I found myself at the front of the pack some 
day! My greatest thrill has come from pushing my horses to new levels and 
then seeing them meet the challenge." 

A classic example was the time Sinchi needed an emergency shoe repair 
during an NATRC ride.  While his shoe was put right, he fell 15 minutes 
behind schedule with six miles of rocky riverbed in front of him. A 
fellow competitor offered to help Lynn make up the lost time. Being a 
veteran of the Tevis Cup 100-Mile Ride, Lynn's "helper" knew quite a bit 
about covering ground in a hurry. 

"Let's go," she said, putting her Arabian into a long trot despite the 
hazardous conditions in the riverbed. 

"I was a totally timid rider," Lynn recalls, "but that experience helped 
to turn me into a rider who remains cautious but can handle almost 
anything." 

Going at high speed through the boulder fields was a new experience for 
Sinchi, too; and he was a bit clumsy at the beginning. 

"I was sure we were going to break our necks," Lynn reports. "I guess 
Sinchi came to the same conclusion because I actually felt him increase 
his concentration. Suddenly we were flying along without a misstep, and 
when we reached the next checkpoint -- 45 minutes later -- we had made up 
the lost time! It was wonderful! I never had that kind of thrill doing 
circles in a show arena!" 

Lynn reports that a strong bond develops between a horse and rider team 
as they put the miles behind them. 

"I hadn't realized how horses react to the long hours together until my 
mare, Cori Ocllo, had her first foal after doing a number of NATRC rides 
(and all the requisite training) with me," Lynn says. "With her previous 
three foals, she'd been extremely protective, going through a great deal 
of trouble to try to keep me away from them. With her first post-NATRC 
foal, I found the foal immediately after it was born, sat down, took the 
foal in my lap and began cleaning it with a towel. Cori just gave a 
little nicker and started her cleaning activities at the other end. I see 
only one possible explanation for this sudden development of trust by a 
previously standoffish horse, and that's the bond we formed while facing 
the trail together. That same thing has happened with my other horses, 
too; and for me this relationship -- all by itself -- is well-worth the 
long hours in the saddle." 
 
 

 
        For further information on Peruvian horses, visit the Internet Web Site
of the American Association of Owners and Breeders of Peruvian Paso Horses