By: Alex Amador
The regional group currently known as the Florida Paso Fino Horse Association, Inc. or FPFHA has had a long and colorful history, longer than even our national governing body, the Paso Fino Horse Association, Inc. or PFHA. Originally incorporated in May of 1968, it was first known as the South Florida Paso Fino Association, Inc. and home to the earliest Paso Fino exhibitions and competitions in the continental U.S. It was originally a part of two national associations named American Paso Fino or APF and the International Paso Fino Society or IPFS. These national governing groups originally sanctioned its shows and the shows required that the horses be registered with the APF. (I still have “APF” papers from some of my original Pasos from over 20 years ago.)
The Paso Fino Owners and Breeders Association, PFOBA for short, was formed in 1972 to further develop and showcase the breed. This was the original name of the now PFHA. As the PFOBA national organization flourished and grew, participation and shows with the APF diminished. The only active region of the APF and IPFS in the late 70’s was “Florida”, as we were then known. Florida was always known for the quality of its Paso Finos and many of its members actively competed in shows sanctioned by the PFOBA. With its star in decline, the last National show sanctioned by APF & IPFS was given by the Florida Paso Fino Association in 1979. The members of Florida decided that joining the PFOBA was the ticket and became a regional group within our current National association. In 1980, Florida’s corporate name was officially changed to Florida Paso Fino Owners and Breeders Association, Inc., and we became the fourth PFOBA recognized regional group in the state of Florida. We immediately became the largest regional group in the entire PFOBA, with our active membership holding more shows than any other regional group. Our name changed officially again in 1995, to reflect the name change also undertaken by our National organization. We are now officially known as Florida Paso Fino Horse Association, Inc. or just Florida for short.
The Florida region has been home to many famous and visionary leaders and owes its current success to the selfless work and dedication of those Directors and members. In 1986, under the leadership of Dee Torcise of Tijodee Farm, the tradition of the annual Spectrum show was begun. The idea was to demonstrate that a Paso Fino competition could showcase our horses in Grand Style and Class with a capital “C”. Until the arrival of the Spectrum, regional Paso Fino shows were little “undecorated” affairs, just horses and watchers without even music to liven up the show. It was at that first Spectrum that we had our first taste of the then undefeated fino phenomenon, Capuchino, “dancing” with flamenco dancers and a guitarist on a fino strip, while being constantly showered with rose petals. The same was done with the incomparable black Bella Forma legend Marichalo Royal, who danced “Flamenco” with the pretty girls, while on two lines. We had fancy decorations, parties, music, and fun. We also had our first Ostrich races (as fun and entertainment) but these didn’t survive after the first show. Most importantly, the Spectrum show drew exhibitors from as far away as Texas, and showcased the most brilliant performers of those days.
The Quality tradition established in that first Spectrum show has been maintained, through different Boards of Directors, under different leadership, and through different and sometimes trying times. Today, the Spectrum International Paso Fino Show is renown internationally for the quality of its competition, drawing only the best, from all the Paso Fino Countries, and always in great numbers. We think the Spectrum show today has become a mini-Nationals, where the best animals are debuted and quality in exhibition and showmanship abounds. Our experience with the Spectrum show led to the Florida Region being chosen as the sponsor of the 1999 CONFEPASO Mundial exhibition. With great success and style, we showcased, internationally, the Paso Fino and had the first-ever cable television coverage of a Paso Fino show.
Today, Florida members enjoy a diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, congregation of true Paso Fino lovers. Our trainers enjoy comradery and at the same time provide outstanding competition. Our legions of amateur owners compete aggressively in every show division. Our youth classes riders compete regularly in large numbers at our shows and many successfully represented our country in the past CONFEPASO Youth Mundial competition in Puerto Rico. We are proud to sponsor the “youth only” competition every year in October. Our membership includes many of this country’s top breeding farms and we are home to many of the top breeding stallions. Our members love to show their horses and we try to provide as many opportunities for that as possible. We get together to party and enjoy our horses regularly. Most of our regional meetings offer food and horses, salsa and fino, all in a true spirit of friendship and Paso Fino brotherhood.