Defining Colombian Paso Fino Gaits

Colombian Paso Finos have a unique gait most other Paso Finos don’t: the trocha. And recent study results suggest that gait isn’t genetically similar to lateral gaits in other ambling breeds like Icelandics, Tennessee Walking Horses, and pacers.
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Protraction and retraction limbs angle measurements in a sample of the Colombian paso horse. P1: Coronary band front; P6: Scapula (top of the withers), P7: Coronary band hind, P12: Sacro-iliac joint (Tuber coxae). The dashed points show the angles measured when the horses were trotting without a rider. Protraction was the maximum angle between P1-P6 and the vertical plane when the forelimb was extended forward. Retraction was the maximum angle between P7-P12 and the vertical plane when the hind limb was extended backwards. | Image: 2018 Novoa-Bravo et al., Selection on the Colombian paso horse's gaits has produced kinematic differences partly explained by the DMRT3 gene/Creative Commons
The Paso Fino horse is known for its smooth gaits and rapid leg action. The Colombian Paso Fino—a “sub-breed”—has a unique celebrated gait most other Paso Finos don’t: the trocha. This four-beat gait features a lateral step sequence, similar to an amble or a Missouri Foxtrotter’s token foxtrot.

However, a new study suggests the trocha isn’t all that genetically similar to lateral gaits in other ambling breeds like Icelandics, Tennessee Walking Horses, and pacers. While the gaitkeeper gene (DMRT3) appears to have some influence, the trocha appears to be coded by additional genes as well, said Miguel Novoa-Bravo, PhD of the National University of Colombia Department of Biology, in Bogotá.

In fact, he and colleagues from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, in Uppsala, found the trocha actually has a diagonal component in it in addition to the lateral one, which might explain why the gaitkeeper gene only has a partial influence.

“The trocha is a lateral sequence four-beat gait, but it’s actually diagonally coupled,” Novoa-Bravo said, adding that the Missouri Foxtrotter’s foxtrot is similar to the trocha. “That means the forelimb hits the ground before the contralateral hind limb. So it has to be considered a diagonal gait, mainly because the time it takes to perform the diagonal movement (opposite fore-hind limb sequence) is shorter than the time it takes to perform the lateral movement (hind-fore limb of the same side)

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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