Well I am no different. I found an ad that had one of those sweeping statements about one of 'my' breeds, and I'm going to expand on that a little. I literally said out loud "WTF!?" when I read this, which really doesn't happen that often anymore.
The breed in question is the Paso Fino. The breed became one of 'my' breeds as a teenage girl, when I responded to a local newspaper ad that wanted help feeding and cleaning stalls in exchange for riding lessons. I was a few weeks away from turning 16, I had to sell my last horse at the age of 12, and was basically "lessonless" and "horseless". The barn that placed the ad was a paso fino barn. I had never heard of the breed before, and totally fell in love with the horses. I worked there for nearly 4 years, then came back to work for the same barn 3 years ago for a period of a year. The barn was a very competitive show barn, and her horses through the years have won multiple local, state, national, and world titles.
Part of the barn's business of course was riding lessons. As a teenager, and as part of my 'pay', I learned to ride the pasos, plus assisted in many riding lessons given to other children and adults. Its that experience that made me really stop short on this ad, because the ad could NOT be farther from the truth.
So, the Ad Text reads: PASO FINO FOR SALE - $1200. Amigo is an 8 yo Paso Fino gelding. Bay with black points and small white bands on his front feet. Very smooth ride. Pasture friendly and the easiest to catch. Stands about 14.2 hh. Paso Finos are generally not suited for beginners or timid riders because they have alot of energy and are very responsive. For someone with a little more confidence they are the smoothest ride and look good doing it. For sale for $1200 or best offer. Video available upon request. Respond through this add or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks
Ok, see that big bold text? Paso Finos are generally not suited for beginners or timid riders because they have alot of energy and are very responsive. This is the statement I said "WTF" to.
Arabian fans - don't you just all hate it when someone says, "all arabs are stupid, brainless, flightly, dumb airheads". Thoroughbreds get the "they are all flighty, highstrung, hard to control, and all they want to do every is run away with you". Quarter Horse lovers get sick of hearing that all qh's are "lazy, slow, bumbling deadheads that all do that weird lame western pleasure canter thing". All Appaloosas hate white people. Paint horses are all crazy. All Shetland Ponies are mean, spiteful, and hate children.
Ok, you know I could go on and on.
We all have them. We all know them. Do we try to stop them? Some of us do.
<< This is the gelding for sale. He's a decent pleasure type trail paso, and the $1200 asking price is a very accurate amount for this horse.
As we all know, there are extremes of behavior in every breed. Its most often the extremes that people remember and then classify all of the horses of that particular breed together as behaving the same. They see the Arabian Halter Classes (with the animals loosing their minds) in the show ring and assume that ALL Arabians act that same way. The hard truth of the matter is that an older Arabian mare, especially one that has had a few foals, is often the one of the best types of horses for children to learn on and around. They were bred to live with their families, in the desert tents. They were bred to be 'watchdogs' of sorts for the families. They were bred to take care of their humans. Send a child into an older Arabian Mare's stall with a brush, they are gonna come out with their hair all licked and ruffled, and wet marks from where she snuffled the kid to death. Truth be told, I would further trust that Arab Mare than a Quarter Horse Mare with a kid in the stall. Quarter Horse mares are tough, catty, and can flatten a kid up against a wall without thinking twice. Its the way they were bred. QH mares are bred to be thrown out into a pasture, carry the foal, deliver the foal in the pasture with no help, and make sure that foal stays alive - without any human help. We bred them that way. These aren't generalizations, they are part of the history of the respective breeds. Are there Arab mares of ANY age that I would never send a child into the stall with? ABSOLUTELY. Same with the QH's. I owned one such qh mare who just LOVED kids. It all goes back to knowing your horse, as well as knowing how the breed came into existence, how they were handled over generations, and what humans did with them to gain understanding into an individual horses' behavior.
The Paso Fino stereotype spouted above irked the hell out of me for those very same reasons. I seriously doubt the owners really and truly know the Paso Fino breed as a whole. Going back to the barn I worked for as an example - one of the lesson horses that we used for BEGINNER CHILDREN was a mare, around 15 years old, who when put into a show ring, was as Hot as Hades on a summer day. Mercedes (she's the very top horse on the page) is classified as a solid Performance type Paso, she knew how to turn 'it on' and as a result had a list of awards, ribbons, and titles as long as a mile. You'd think a horse like that would be nearly impossible for a child to handle, right? Reality was you put a child up on her, and she'd become the slowest, most careful, conscientious horse.
(And, while I'm thinking about it, under News & Events, page 4, under the Southwest Classic heading, in the large picture on the left... thats your's truly in the middle wearing the green shirt. That was during 'happier' times during my employment with the barn. I'm also in some of the pictures for the Fiesta Show as well.)
We sold Paso after Paso to families with younger children simply because paso finos are very people oriented horses. Even the hot, hot, hot show stallions - put a child on their backs, and they just KNOW. I've seen and ridden with children that haven't been riding more than a month be able to ride a paso fino out on the trails, with their families, and have the best time. Once mature and fully trained, they become excellent, sane, levelheaded mounts that literally anyone can ride. That is why the breed is one of the very very few that are increasing their registry numbers yearly - in both horses and members.
We sold Petroleo (second to last from bottom) and Preludio (small black gelding) both to families with children under the age of 10, as childrens mounts. Exitoso (the steel gray gelding) went to a 60 year old lady who had recently retired from riding Cutting horses her entire life, and wanted a horse that wouldn't jar her back any more. Tentacion was being used as a lesson horse for children until her owner decided she was going to sell her privately.
The whole point to my ad today was simply that stereotypes exist in every breed. We can choose to allow them to propagate and spread, or we can make a stand and say something, loudly.
I know most of you don't know much about the breed, and what they can/can't do.
Here are some links for further reading.
http://hubpages.com/hub/Paso-Finos-Are-They-Suitable-for-Children - Article covers basically what we'd say for any horse, make sure the individual horse is well trained, easy to handle, and has the right personality for kids.
http://www.pfha.org/ - The main breed registry site, some background and information on the horses themselves.