Peruvian Pasos are the Rolls Royce of riding horses, definitely with an automatic - not manual - transmission," Ray Wood says with a twinkle in his eye. "They originated in Peru to carry their owners in comfort across vast haciendas, so they're naturally gaited and ultra-smooth - no bounce at all. All you have to do is sit and enjoy their gentle rocking ride."
This spring, the Oklahoman is opening his Wood Guest Ranch and Equestrian Center in Boswell with 54 Peruvian Pasos in his pastures. "They're perfect for our guests to ride: elegant, gentle horses," he says.
Last November, Wood hosted a trail ride for 47 riders and their Peruvian Pasos. They traversed the nearby Clear Boggy Bottom, a valley two miles wide and 30 miles long, with a river meandering through the middle. Three lakes enhanced the serene beauty. "The Peruvians are perfect trail partners. We can hardly wait to do it again next year."
Wood bought his first Peruvian Paso in 1990, impressed by their naturally smooth gait, kind temperaments, and their brio, the breed's special charisma and enthusiasm for life. And he's not alone.
More and more trail enthusiasts are embracing the smooth-moving Peruvian Paso for its strength and stamina over distance, its willing attitude on challenging trails, and the gentle demeanor that makes them suitable for the entire family. Here, we'll tell you more about the "National Horse of Peru," including on-trail stories and purchasing tips. We'll also give you information on the breed's history and gaits, explain the North American Peruvian Horse Association's Joy of Riding trail program, and include a handy resource guide.
Tops on the Trail
Pat Stevenson taught high school science in New York, and showed Miniature Bull Terriers to three Best of Breed honors at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. But when she and her husband, Andy, retired in 1988, they decided to move south - to 27 acres in North Carolina - and get horses into their lives.
Pat researched equine breeds, with trail riding on her mind. Little did she imagine that in 2005, she'd be honored at the Peruvian Paso National Show as NAPHA's top trail rider, with more than 2,500 hours in the saddle. "I'm just making up for lost time," she says with a chuckle.
Pat's love affair with Peruvian Pasos began with a trip to Sonja Wirth's Phoenix Ranch in upstate New York. She recalls, "There were so many things about Peruvians that were 'just right' for me: their easygoing personalities, moderate size, and smooth gait," Pat recalls. "It wasn't long before Sonja had me riding her stallions, and they were wonderful. Today, we own six Peruvians."
One of the couple's most memorable trail rides was in West Virginia's Lost River State Park. "Andy and I read about the area in The Trail Rider, and just had to explore it," Pat says. "We went in the springtime when mountain laurel was in bloom, and rode through tunnels of their white blossoms. It was beautiful!
"One morning, as we rode up an old logging road, I saw a black nose poke out of some bushes - a black bear! When he sat down right in the middle of the road, I thought we might die! But my Peruvian, PR Laredo, just stood quietly and calmly looked at him. After a few minutes, the bear got up and walked back into the woods. I was so impressed with our horses, but I shouldn't have been surprised. They ignore flapping tarps, barking dogs, and loud tractors with the same reserve. We love our Peruvians!"