The gait of the Paso Fino horse is totally natural and normally exhibited from birth. It is an
evenly-spaced four-beat lateral gait with each foot contacting the ground independently in a
regular sequence at precise intervals creating a rapid, unbroken rhythm. Executed perfectly,
the four hoof beats are absolutely even in both cadence and impact. Footfall is in the same
sequence as a natural equine walk, i.e., left rear, left fore, right rear, right fore. Propulsion is
primarily from the hind limbs and the horse’s motion is absorbed in its back and loins, resulting
in unequaled smoothness and comfort for the rider. The Paso Fino gait is performed at
three forward speeds and with varying degrees of collection. In all speeds of the gait, the
rider should appear virtually motionless in the saddle, and there should be no perceptible up
and down motion of the horse’s croup.
1. Classic Fino—Forward speed is very slow, and the footfall is extremely rapid while the
steps and extension are exceedingly short. To be executed fully collected.
2. Paso Corto—Forward speed is moderate, ground-covering but unhurried, executed
with medium extension and stride. The degree of collection desired varies with class
3. Paso Largo—The fastest speed of the gait. The largo is executed with a longer extension
and stride. Forward speed varies with the individual horse, since each horse should
attain its top speed in harmony with its own natural stride and cadence. The degree of collection
desired varies with class requirements.
4. The Paso Fino can execute other gaits natural to horses in addition to the Paso Fino
a. Walk—Smooth, steady evenly-spaced four-beat gait.
b. Lope—True, three-beat gait, slow, cadenced, smooth, straight on both leads, with
no tendency to mix gaits.
c. Canter—True, three-beat gait, straight on both leads, smooth and unhurried with no
tendency to mix gaits.
In all classes where Western tack is designated, the tack shall consist of a good
working stock saddle. Silver equipment is permitted but must not predominate. The
head stall shall be of the Western type customarily used with a stock saddle. Western
Pleasure horses under the age of five years may use a snaffle or bosal; horses five and
over must use a curb bit. In Paso Pleasure when using Western style tack, Colombian
and Western hackamore, mecates, sidepulls, curb, and snaffle bits may be used.
Cavessons and nose bands are prohibited. Breastplates are permitted. See specific
class descriptions and appointments for additional requirements concerning tack.
b. Bits. (All Divisions) Bits are required in all classes except Schooling Classes or other
classes as specified. Bits may be of any humane approved type in accordance with
Appendix A of the PFHA Rule Book. However, shanks cannot exceed six (6) inches,
upper shank of bit from mouthpiece to where bit attaches to bridle cannot exceed three
(3) inches, and all bits with shanks must have a curb strap or curb chain attached and
used for leverage. The length of a shank shall be measured in a straight line from the
mouthpiece to the end of the shank.
6. Bits. Slip or gag bits, rigid donut mouthpieces and flat polo mouthpieces are prohibited.
Any rein design or bit shank which increases the effective length and thereby the leverage
of the shank of the bit is prohibited.
7. Crops and Spurs. Blunt spurs appropriate for English or Western classes, respectively
and a riding crop not exceeding thirty (30) inches in length may be used.
Western Attire. In classes requiring Western dress, the rider shall wear a Western type
hat, long sleeved Western type shirt, full length trousers, Western boots together with
chaps, shotgun chaps or chinks. A jacket or vest is optional.
In Western Equipment and Trail classes, a less elevated head carriage should not be
penalized. The Western Equipment horse should have more substance, especially in the
quarters, be close-coupled and have well-defined withers. As in all Saddlebred divisions,
the best quality specimens of the breed should prevail.
Western Country Pleasure horses must be plain shod. Permissible as plain shod shall
be a shoe (inclusive of caulks), which may be thicker at the heel and may include toe clips
and side clips. Also permissible is an eggbar shoe. Not permissible as plain shod: bands,
bars, pads of any kind, wedges, lead, springs, any attachment that extends below the bottom
of the shoe, and any foreign substance not specified as permissible.
Entries must be shown with full mane and tail. Tails must not be gingered or put in any
device (i.e., tailset, bustle or brace) which alters their carriage while on the grounds. The
fact that a horse’s tail has once been set does not exclude participation. Braids and artificial
manes are prohibited. Inconspicuously applied hair in the tail is permitted.
Western Equipment. Inconspicuously applied rubber bands may be used to keep the
forelock in place. Riders shall wear Western hat, long sleeved shirt and/or jacket with a collar
and a necktie, kerchief or bolo tie, bow tie, peddle-tie, rosette-tie, or pin used as a tie;
trousers or pants (or one piece equitation suit is acceptable provided it includes a collar and
cuffs). Chaps, shotgun chaps or chinks and boots are required. A vest, coat or sweater may
be worn. Protective headgear with harness is optional in all classes, not
required to be of Western style. Spurs are optional. Whips are prohibited except in side
A side saddle rider must wear an apron of closed or button type with belt under
loops. It is suggested that an apron with waistband cut the same as chaps and double
thickness is used in classes where chaps are required.
Entries shall be shown with stock saddle but silver equipment will not count over a
good working outfit. A side saddle shall be considered legal equipment. Tapaderos are
prohibited. Hobbles and riata are not required.
There shall be no discrimination against any standard Western bit. A standard
Western bit is defined as having a shank with a maximum length overall of 8 1/2“. Slip or gag bits
are prohibited. Roping bits with both reins connected to a single rein at center of
cross bar shall not be used. Reins must be attached to each shank. Any rein design or
other device which increases the effective length and thereby the leverage of the shank
of a standard western bit is prohibited.
Standard snaffle bits are permitted in any class on horses four years old and under
that have never been shown in any Western event in a curb bit bridle. The rings may be from 2” to 4” outside diameter of either the loose type, eggbutt, dee or center mounted without cheeks. If a curb strap is used it must be attached below the reins.
Hackamores are permitted in any class on horses four years old and under that
have never been shown in any Western event in a curb bit bridle. A hackamore
includes a bosal rounded in shape and constructed of braided rawhide or leather and
must have a flexible nonmetallic core attached to a suitable headstall. Attached reins
may be of hair, rope or leather. No other material of any kind is to be used in conjunction
with a bosal, i.e., steel, metal or chains (Exception: smooth plastic electrical tape is
Curb chains and leather chinstraps may be used but must be flat and at least 1/2” in
width and lie flat against the jaws of the horse. No wire, rawhide, metal or other substance
can be used in conjunction with or as part of the leather chinstrap, or curb
chains. Rounded, rolled, braided or rawhide curb straps are prohibited. A light lip strap
is permissible. Hackamore bits, bosals, cavesson type nosebands, martingales and
tiedowns are prohibited.
A snaffle or hackamore horse is not more than four years old and must never have
been shown in any western event in a bridle. Rider may use both hands. Both hands
must be visible to the Judge. Horses may not switch from a curb bit to a snaffle or hackamore.
To be shown at a flat walk, jog-trot, and lope on a reasonably loose rein without undue
restraint (ridden with one hand on reins, exception is using a hackamore or a snaffle bit where two hand are required).
Manners and suitability as a pleasure mount are paramount. Transitions from one gait to
another should be smooth and effortless. Horses must be obedient with prompt transitions.
Special emphasis is placed on a true, flat walk. Entries must be asked both ways of the ring
to halt and stand quietly on the rail. Horses must stand quietly and back readily in the lineup.
TO BE PENALIZED: Pulling, head tossing, laboring action, going sideways and tailswitching.
Classes Offered to ASN and Specifications:
1. WESTERN COUNTRY PLEASURE. (Open, Amateur, Maiden, Novice, Limit, Mares,
Geldings, Junior Horse, OTR, Ladies, Gentlemen, Junior Exhibitor.) To be shown at a flat
walk, jog- trot, lope. To stand quietly and back readily. To be judged on manners, performance,
quality and conformation.
2. WESTERN COUNTRY PLEASURE PROSPECT. Open only to horses competing during
their first or second competition years as Western Country Pleasure horses, according to
the records of the American Saddlebred Horse Association. Hackamores and snaffle bits are permitted. To be shown at a flat walk, jog- trot, and lope. To stand quietly and back readily. Only one hand may be used on reins (two hands are permitted for Hackamores and snaffle bits) To be
judged on manners, performance, quality and conformation.
3. WESTERN COUNTRY PLEASURE CHAMPIONSHIP (Open, Amateur, Junior
Exhibitor). To be eligible, horse must have been entered, shown and judged in a designated
qualifying class. To be shown at a flat walk, jog-trot and lope on a reasonably loose rein
without undue restraint. To stand quietly and back readily. To be judged on manners, performance, quality and conformation.
4. WESTERN SHOW PLEASURE. Shown at a flat walk, jog-trot and lope. Judged 75% on manners, performance, presence and quality; 25% on total conformation.
5. SADDLE & BRIDLE’S SHATNER WESTERN PLEASURE CLASS. Shown at a flat
walk, jog trot and lope on a reasonably loose rein without undue restraint. Judged 75% on manners, performance, presence and quality; 25% on total conformation. A minimum of three horses must be entered,shown, and judged in order to be an official Shatner qualifying class for the finals. The
Show committee must previously state in the prize list, if they intend to use Saddle &
Bridle’s Shatner Western Pleasure Class as a qualifier and this class cannot be the sole
qualifying class for the competition’s championship. One Shatner qualifying class first
place ribbon eliminates that horse from further competition in qualifying classes that season.
6. SADDLE & BRIDLE’S WORKING WESTERN PLEASURE CLASS. To be shown at a
flat walk, jog trot and lope on a reasonably loose rein without undue restraint. Judged 50% on manners, presence, conformation and quality while working on the rail, 50% on ability to complete the working portion of the class. The working portion of this class shall consist of four or five obstacles to be traversed as a course. After three refusals an entry
must skip to the next obstacle. At all times entry must exhibit appropriate manners and
7. WESTERN TRAIL. Shown over and through a minimum of five obstacles and at a flat
walk, jog-trot and lope on a reasonably loose rein without undue restraint). Judged 75% on manners, performance, presence and quality; 25% on total conformation.
8. WESTERN PAIRS. Shown at a flat walk, jog-trot and lope. Judged 75% on manners, performance, presence,quality and conformation; 25% on uniformity and neatness of attire.
9. VERSATILITY. Shown with Western Equipment at a flat walk, jog-trot and lope both
ways of the ring. Then shown with English Equipment at a flat walk, trot, extended trot and
canter both ways of the ring. Change of equipment for both horse and rider to be made in
the ring. Each phase of the competition to count 50%.