Pronounced Hoo-roo-toon-go, Jurutungo is Puerto Rican slang. It is used to describe a far away place, like a remote paradise. What a perfect word to describe Vieques and the secluded beaches that we ride on! The word Jurutungo is believed to originate from African slaves that were brought to the Caribbean.
A Paso Fino is a breed of horse that is included in much of the history of Puerto Rico. The breed is known for its natural gait, which is exceptionally smooth. It is 4 beats, like a rhythm. A purebred Paso Fino is born with the classic gait. It takes very small fast steps, with its feet remaining close to the ground. The result is a ride so smooth and comfortable that Paso Fino competitions used to include an exercise where the rider balanced a glass of water on his head. The horse and rider move alone very smoothly and slowly. Here is a video of a baby Paso Fino exhibiting the classic gait.
Paso Fino horses were originally brought to Puerto Rico from Spain, but the breed was honed to perfection right here in Puerto Rico. The plantation owners took advantage of the smooth ride to traverse their farmland in comfort. Vieques historically farmed pineapple and sugarcane with Paso Finos as form of transportation.
Paso Finos continue to be bred and competed in many parts of the world today. The breed is especially gaining popularity in the United States. There are many Paso Finos that have genes of other horses mixed into their ancenstry. This mix has led to the development of the more practical gaits Paso Corto and Paso Largo, which are a bit faster but still incredibly smooth. The Paso Corto is a slow but smooth gait that is faster than a normal walk but very smooth. Paso Largo is also smooth but very fast, comparable to a gallop without any moving up and down for the rider.
Here is an example of the gait Paso Largo. Notice how the rider looks very comfortable and does not bounce up and down at all despite the speed. If you are lucky, you may see local riders of all ages doing this gait on the street in Vieques. Our horses are bred for this and actually very much enjoy showing off what they can do.