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Versatility and the Peruvian Paso

Written by Mr. Verne Albright, Noted Authority and Historian.

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."



If you have enjoyed reading these articles you can find a complete updated collection, and more, in
The Peruvian Horse and His Classic Equitation

by Verne R. Albright

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Last Updated December 11, 2000