The horse stopped with a jerk
and the jerk fell off.


Sometimes we horse people use terms that may be unfamiliar to the average horse lover.  We are akin to computer techies and doctors using the language of their profession that so many of us have trouble understanding.  This page will explain some of these terms or answer some frequently asked questions.

What is foundation breeding?

A purebred horse is one that has two parents of the same breed and is registered with the breed registry.  The breed registry maintains a list of purebred horses, from the earliest known horses to have shaped the breed, commonly known as "foundation horses", to the most recent additions whose bloodline can be traced to previously registered horses.  Foundation breeding is controlled or selected breeding that preserves the bloodline, or breeding that is based on proven genetics from the past and present.

When speaking of Tennessee Walking Horses, "foundation breeding" utilizes a breeding program that involves only Tennessee Walking Horses that have pedigrees that trace strongly back to the founding horses of a breed.  Foundation breeders should not only want to  preserve the bloodline, but improve upon it by careful selection to correct flaws or enhance or continue the extraordinary qualities into the next generation.  For example, a purebred stallion whose conformation could be near perfect except for a tail that is not carried parallel to the spine. A good breeder would select a  mare for mating with this stallion (both registered purebreds) whose tail set was proportionately precise along with other attributes, so that their progeny would not inherit the faulty tail of the stallion.  

The stallion should be chosen to complement the mare, with the goal of producing a foal that has the best qualities of both animals, yet avoids having the weaker qualities of either parent.

What does the F-1 or F-38 mean when it follows the name of the horse.

These letters and numbers refer to when a horse is registered. The "F" stands for "foundation" (the earliest known horses that shaped the breed) and the number following the "F" signifies the the chronological placement of the horse on the registry books. 

So Allan F-1 is the first horse to be placed on the official registry.  Allan F-1 is distinguished as the foundation sire of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed.  Notable that this was done several years after he passed away because of his recognition as the "greatest contribution to the breed, among all known stallions".  Roan Allen F-38, one of the offspring of Allan F-1 was the 38th horse to have his name put in the registry book.


What is Conformation

Conformation is the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other. Horses are not all perfectly proportioned and should be evaluated by what its intended use may be.  Just because a horse does not have the ideal conformation to compete in equestrian events like dressage or show jumping, does not mean that the horse couldn't be a champion cutting horse.  Read more details about conformation on Wikipedia


The Gaits (Tennessee Walkers)

The best description of the gaits of this breed appears on the website of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association. 

"The Tennessee Walking Horse performs three distinct gaits: the flat foot walk, running walk, and canter. These three are the gaits for which the Tennessee Walking Horse is famous, with the running walk being an inherited, natural gait unique to this breed. Many Tennessee Walking Horses are able to perform the rack, stepping pace, fox-trot, single-foot and other variations of the famous running walk. While not desirable in the show ring, the above mentioned gaits are smooth, easy, trail riding gaits..."  Read more about each gait.

The Gait (Peruvian Pasos)

The Peruvian Paso is celebrated for its signature gait called the "paso llano" (see description below).  This ambling gait is unique to the Peruvian Horse and quite rare in the equine world.   This gait provides the rider with an almost bounceless ride, entirely opposite to most riders where the rider springs up and down.

The gait of a Peruvian horse is harmonic; it can be as slow as a walk or as fast as an extended trot or slow canter. Both the gait and the flashy leg action are completely natural. They are not induced or aided in any way by artificial training or devices.

The Gait (Paso Fino)

The Paso Fino has a naturally precise and rhythmic four-beat lateral gait.  It is an ambling gait that distinguishes the Paso Fino from all other horses in the world and produces the smoothest ride imaginable. All four hooves travel so close to the ground and are lifted equally in height that the rider appears motionless (with little up and down movement) no matter how fast the horse is moving forward.

  • Classic fino or paso fino is a collected gait with rapid footfalls that covers as little ground as possible. It requires a high degree of collection. This is a show gait reserved for competition. Walking, trotting, cantering or any detected break from the rapid evenly spaced sequence of steps is grounds for disqualification at any time during a fino event.

  • The paso corto is slightly more extended, and used during trail rides. The speed of this gait is comparable to the speed of a trot but is much smoother.

  • The paso largo is a fast, lateral, four-beat gait in which the horse can reach speeds equivalent to a canter or slow gallop. The paso largo is not just an increase in speed but also shows a distinct extension in stride. The paso largo can be extremely fast, up to 25-30 mph.

This description is quoted in whole or in part from Wikipedia.

What is the difference between the gaits of the Peruvian Paso and the Paso Fino.

The difference between the gaits of a Paso Fino and a Peruvian paso is most evident in the show ring.  The Paso fino has a quick gait that is almost in one spot where as a Peruvian Paso was made for smooth gaits over with longer strides. Carla, says "Picture it like Paso Fino is a tap dancer and a Peruvian Paso is a Ballet dancer.  Both beautiful to watch but very unique in their movement.  Both are revered in their homelands and both were taken to town to show off.  I'd suggest that people  watch videos on both breed on youtube - it is fascinating.  I love my Spanish horses." 

Paso Llano

The trademark of the Peruvian Paso is a distinct inherited, and completely natural four beat lateral gait called paso llano. The paso llano is a broken gait. It consists of a permanent, harmonic, and rhythmic tapping in which the animal makes a gentle and pleasant alternating movement. It is a quick advance in which the center of the horse's gravity stays almost immobile, producing a smooth ride.  One description quoted:  "The horses legs were moving so fast and yet the rider looked like he was being transported on a magic carpet."

The paso llano is executed with a distinctive action in the front legs called "termino".  (see below)

This description/definition quoted from Peruvian Horse Association of Canada  
per courtesy of Eduard van Brunschot Vega, Peru


Termino is the action of the front legs of a Peruvian Paso breed.  It is a graceful, flowing movement in which the forelegs are rolled towards the outside as the horse strides forward, much like the arm motion of a swimmer. Termino is a spectacular and beautiful natural action. It is not a wing or paddle and originates in the shoulder giving the horse the ability to swing the leg forward with minimum vertical force back. Both the gait and the flashy leg action are naturally passed on to the offspring.

This description/definition quoted from Peruvian Horse Association of Canada
per courtesy of Eduard van Brunschot Vega, Peru 



Brio refers to the spirit, pride and heart of a Peruvian Paso or Paso Fino.  Brio cannot be accurately described, it has to be seen and experienced to truly understand.  When you watch an equine with brio it looks full of energy, movement, arrogance, but you feel how little effort it takes for the animal to control this power and energy. You sense the fire and courage within the Paso.  The rider on the other hand feels complete calmness.  The Paso displays a combination of grace and showmanship, exuberance and certainty, strength and bravery, in a quality so profound it catches the eye and almost takes your breath away.  Brio commands the attention and admiration of everyone in its presence.  Yet, the Paso is completely gentle, patient, willing, in fact eager to serve and please its rider. Brio gives the Paso the willingness and strength to perform or endure tirelessly for the rider.  The Peruvian Paso or Paso Fino, each in a class of its own had brio that Brio sets its breed apart from any other breed of equine, thrilling to watch or ride.  Brio is not something that can be taught.



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