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Paso Fino Farm Open House


by Leigh Ballard

Shady Creek Ranch, a Paso Fino breeding and training farm in Arlington, TN, held an open house on Saturday April 21. Owners Norman and Debbie Timbs opened their ranch to the public as an opportunity to learn about the fiery Spanish breed. Norman is President of the Tennessee Valley Paso Fino Horse Association and is an Executive on the National Board. He is dedicated to promoting the breed, and encouraged the open house visitors to ride several of his horses and experience the Paso Fino’s distinctive gaits. Carmen Nicoletti, a trainer and clinician from Ocala, FL, was on hand to help with horses and coach both experienced and non-experienced riders on how to ride the distinctive gait. Carmen was in town with several of her horses to attend the Tennessee Valley Paso Fino Show in Memphis on April 27-30 at the Agricenter Showplace Arena.

The Paso Fino horse originates from the second voyage of Columbus. One of his ships brought horses from Spain, which were Andalusian crossed with other Spanish breeds. These horses were tough and with, their distinctive gait, allowed the conquistadores to travel long distances comfortably. With their strong endurance capability, Paso Finos are a good choice for ranch work and bird dog field trial work, as well as trail and endurance competition.

Paso Fino means “fine step” in Spanish. There are three categories of Paso Fino horses: Pleasure, Performance, and Fino.  The pleasure horses are smooth riding and good trail horses, and they are used for many other all-round purposes. The performance horses are more animated and quick, and the horse in the “Fino” category is the showiest of all.

The Paso Fino has a four-beat lateral gait, each foot hitting the ground independently. The legs do not move in diagonal pairs as in the non-gaited horse’s trot. Besides the walk, the different speeds of gaits are the “corto,” “largo,” and “fino.” The “corto” is the medium speed gait, roughly equivalent to the normal trot but smoother because of the way the gait dissipates the motion. A sounding board is used at shows to allow the judges and audience to hear the rapid-fire footfalls of the “fino.” The faster a horse can move his feet, and the more animation he shows without moving forward, is a measure of  a fiery attitude called “brio” and is highly prized in the horses who show in the Fino classes. The horse appears to be dancing in place.

Shady Creek is home to several National Champions and breeding stock, and the stallion “Joyero” stands at stud in Ocala. The Timbs’ National Champion Fino Gelding, Phantom, a lineback dun out of Joyero, was present to display his brio and animated gaits. The Timbs ship semen internationally, and also use surrogate mares for embryo transfer breeding.

The newborn Paso Finos exhibit their gaits from the start, as shown by a 3-month-old colt in the pasture at the Open House. Shady Creek trainer, Johnny O’Haver, takes the young horses from the start and trains them into show and pleasure horses for sale. O’Haver has been involved with all types of horses through his career, but says the personable and gentle nature of the Paso Fino makes them very easy to work with.

For more information about the horses at Shady Creek Ranch, contact Debbie or Norman Timbs at dtimbs@aol.comor 901-377-1430 For more information about the Paso Fino organization in our area visit 

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