Horseback Riding Holiday on Big Island’s North Kohala Coast
As horseback riders, we’ve all ridden at the trot, canter or lope. Perhaps you’ve gone on a horseback riding vacation to Iceland and experienced the “tolt” a special gait unique to the Icelandic horse. On a recent trip to the Big Island’s North Kohala Coast, I had the opportunity to ride a very special gaited horse with Hawaii Paso Finos.
Hawaii Paso Finos for a Smooth Horseback Riding Vacation
Any equestrian with a bad back or knees knows that these Paso Fino gaited horses do not trot. The unique mechanics of their “four beat lateral gait,” where the horses’ hooves move up and forward in perfect rhythm, are a god-send for riders wanting a smooth horseback riding vacation. I have had the pleasure of riding a Tennessee Walking Horse and a Missouri Fox Trotter, but nothing compares to the smooth gait of the Paso Fino.
Paso Fino horses are not to be confused with “Peruvian Pasos.” The Peruvian Paso is its own breed with its own distinct characteristics.
Californians Bring Paso Finos to Hawaii’s Kohala Coast
Former Northern Californians, Joe and Kelly Vitorino moved to Hawaii’s North Kohala Coast in 1990 and never looked back. “Kelly always wanted to have horses,” noted Joe Vitorino, “but she had back issues and needed a smooth ride.”
The Vitorino’s were the first Paso Fino breeders in Hawaii. “It was a challenge bringing the horses over from the mainland,” reflects Joe. “We flew two brood mares over that were pregnant and then we barged them from Oahu to the Big Island.”
I was fortunate to ride Contrachena on my Hawaiian horseback riding vacation. Contrachena is a a 13 year old Paso Fino mare who’s well known father is Cappuccino.
Paso Fino Horseback Riding Gaits and Traits
Having shown horses in my youth, I have witnessed some un-natural training methods used on horses. What I love about the Paso Fino is that their gait is completely natural. Foals will gait the day they are born. The Paso Fino also possesses what is known as “Brio,” translating to “fiery spirit” from within. Brio is what makes the Paso Fino horse so willing to perform, yet their personality makes them ideal for beginning equestrians on their first horseback riding vacation.
Historical Horseback Riding Vacations
With 10 Paso Finos on their ranch, the Vitorinos specialize in historical horseback riding vacations on Hawaii’s North Kohala Coast.
*Nervous Nellie Ride – one hour horseback ride for the novice rider
* Historical Ranch Ride – one and a half to two and a half hour private horseback ride, combined with Big Island history. This horseback riding vacation takes place on the working ranch, situated oceanfront on a former sugar cane plantation.
*King’s Ride – three hour horseback ride through one of Kohala’s best preserved upcountry open spaces. Formerly situated on a missionary estate, this horseback riding trek winds through miles of rain forest trails.
Three Speeds for your Paso Fino Horseback Riding Vacation
Here is a brief overview of the three speeds to a Paso Fino horseback riding vacation. The “Classic Fino” is a highly collected gait with a tightly space and quick footfall, each hoof moving in an even, four beat succession.
Next follows the “Paso Corto” – a gait performed at moderate extension on a horseback ride. Most Paso Finos are able to travel at the Paso Corto for hours without tiring.
The “Paso Largo” gait has a longer, extended stride and is performed at a faster speed during horseback riding.
What are your favorite things to do on a horseback riding vacation to Hawaii’s Big Island?
If You Go:
Hawaii Paso Finos (808) 884-5625
P.O. Box 1107 Kapaau, Hawaii 96755
I was a guest of Hawaii Paso Finos. Photos courtesy of Winston Welborn of Hawaii Life.