Great Lakes Paso Fino


History of Great Lakes Paso Fino Horse Association

The seeds of our organization were sown as early as 1969 when Dr. Carolyn Ziegler secured two Paso Fino classes in the Ohio Western All breed Fall Roundup - the very first time for them to be exhibited north of Atlanta. The horses were very well received and the stall area was crowded with curious and interested onlookers. They were a tremendous change of pace from the all western aspect of the show.

At this time we were all American Paso Fino Horse Association (APF) members and PFOBA was unheard of. We had managed to secure ten horses to exhibit during those four days. George LaHood and Cese Figuera came from Valdosta, GA, bringing Mar de Plata, Bolero and Singer. Kenny Ziegler entered Oasis Z and Sombra LaCE, Dr. Ziegler exhibited La Patrona, Mr. and Mrs. Herb Whitacre brought El Cid and Chapalla, and John Moore, Northfield, Ohio, Mr. Evans, Mr. Lorenz and Mr. Dick Bailey, Pennsylvania all brought horses to that first exhibit. In 1970 we again returned to the Fall Roundup to exhibit.

Shortly after the first exhibit in 1969, Mr. Lorenz called a meeting in Youngstown, Ohio and we formed a regional group. The new officers were Dr. Carolyn Ziegler, President and Mr. Robert Reis, Secretary/Treasurer. Within the next year or two, classes were obtained in many all breed shows in Alliance, Hudson, Ravenna, Ohio and Bay City, Michigan. In 1971 we were invited to display our horses at the very prestigious Rolling Rock Steeple Chase at Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Our horses were stabled in the famous Mellon Barns, a spectacular layout where even the dog kennels were built to look like another house so they wouldn't spoil the landscape. We were supposed to be furnished with our own grooms and sable boys, but shortly after we arrived, they disappeared. Evidently they had decided the group with the Paso Finos were not socially up to par as we had to groom our own horses! A million dollars worth of trophies were displayed in the barn area and all the society of Pittsburgh saw our horses perform during that week.

Things moved rapidly from that point on and during January, 1972, the Great Lakes Paso Fino Federation was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Ohio by Mr. Leonard Reith, Mr. Herb Whitacre and Dr. Carolyn Ziegler. The term "Federation" became part of our name through a chain of events at the original meeting. We first chose Great Lakes Paso Fino Association but the President of APF objected to the work "Association", as he felt it would be confused with the American Paso Fino Horse Association (APF). We then decided to use the term of the oldest Puerto Rican organization which was "federation". We are therefore, the oldest incorporated region in PFOBA since the Atlantic Paso Fino Association is no longer in existence. Sunshine was formed a short time later. In May of that same year we held our first all Paso show and had 21 horses. The show was approved by the American Paso Fino Horse Association. Very few of you have heard of the latter organization. IT was a short lived organization formed by some members of APF to actively promote the showing of our horses and in the Summer of 1972, most of the people involved in it formed the PASO FINO OWNERS & BREEDERS ASSOCIATION (PFOBA), in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Two couples from Great Lakes, Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Reith and Dr John and Carolyn Ziegler, were among those involved in the founding of PFOBA. During 1972 a total of ten couples, including the Reith's and Ziegler's put up $1000 each for a total of $10,000 to get the organization off the ground. Of the original ten couples, those still active are LaHoods, Nolts, Reiths and Dr. Carolyn Ziegler.

The early history of Great Lakes would not be complete without mentioning Mr. Kenneth Ziegler, of Salem, Ohio. Kenny Ziegler raised Appaloosa horses. He saw an article in Western Horseman about Paso Finos, by Rosalie MacWilliam. He contacted her for more information. While in Puerto Rico , Rosalie selected four Paso Finos for Mr. Ziegler; Oasis, a seal brown stallion, son of Batallia San Lorenza, a black mare with her foal, and two other mares, one in foal. These two foals, La Patrona Z, and Zorra Z, were purchased then and are still owned by Dr. Carolyn Ziegler. San Lorenza was later purchased by the Leonard Reiths and produced eleven foals before her death in 1982.

Mr. Ziegler later imported other Paso Finos by boat, and in the late 60's and early 70's he had 25 to 30 Paso Finos. That was a large herd in those days. Mr. Ziegler also purchased Sombre Lace, from Mr. George LaHood. Sombre was a beautiful golden dappled palomino with flaxen mane and tail. Mr. Ziegler was extremely active in Paso Fino affairs and was one of the members of Great Lakes at its founding. Mr. Ziegler's stallion, Oasis, was shown very little, but his influence in the Great Lakes area was exceptional. In the year 1969, he was selected as "Sire of the Year" APF, siring 27 foals that year. He was a well-mannered and well-gaited animal.

Many visitors at the Ziegler farm were influenced favorably to Paso Finos by this stallion. At the age of 15, Oasis became chronically ill with Piroplasmosis. At a veterinary clinic this disease was neither recognized at that time or diagnosed. So Oasis went home to try and recuperate on his own. Some time later, thinking Oasis was well again, he was saddled and ridden. Shortly thereafter Oasis fell to the ground, never to sound his fantastic rhythm again. He gave his all to the end. Many shed a tear for this son of Batallia.