Take a romantic history and a proud tradition, and add a pinch of mystery. Blend generously with a noble carriage and the most comfortable, natural gait in the equine world, and you'll begin to understand the appeal of the Peruvian Paso, a breed apart from any other.

According to census figures from the American Horse Council, the Peruvian breed accounts for 43/1000th of one percent of the United States horse population. There are fewer than 20 large ranches actively engaged in Paso breeding, with the total number of Paso owners in the United States hovering at about 12,500. The practice of breeding only those Pasos who can transmit their special qualities to their offspring helps to preserve the rarity of the breed.

The modem day Pasos, whose ancestry can be traced to the war horses introduced into Peru by the Spanish Conquistadors, possess even temperament, aristocratic carriage, great beauty and spirit, and the smoothest gait of all horses.

The gait of the Peruvian Paso is a broken pace which gives the rider neither the vertical movement of the trot not the lateral motion of the pace. It is undoubtedly the smoothest ride in the horse world. Indeed, in some circles the Paso is termed "The Rolls Royce" of horses because of its smooth and stylish gait. A glass of champagne is often shown being carried on a tray without spilling a drop to demonstrate the horse's smoothness.

The Peruvian is more than a show horse, however. Most Pasos were bred and raised to work hard, provide smooth, comfortable and reliable transportation, and possess an even temperament. Peruvian breeders pay scrupulous attention to genetics, both for gait and for disposition.

The Peruvian Paso is also a completely natural horse. Most of the horses are ridden barefoot for all of their lives. No shoes are allowed in the show ring and no artificial devices are permitted in the training, riding or showing of the horse. Their manes and tails are full and luxuriant.

You will find modern Peruvians of every basic color: black, brown, bay, chestnut, gray, palomino, buckskin and roan. They have long luxurious manes and tails. Sizes range from 14 to 15.1 hands with the average of about 14.2 Since their importation to North America, they have demonstrated their ability to adapt favorably to the varying climates.

Whether it be their historical significance, their unusual gait and brilliant performance in the show ring, their refined beauty or their starnina and incredibly easy temperament, the Peruvian Paso is a special breed. As the Peruvians say, "the Peruvian Paso walks like a conqueror."