Local farm trains, breeds and competes Paso Finos

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 3, 2015

GROOMING TIME: Michael Gascon brushes his horse, Tito, a three-time champion Paso Fino horse, inside the stables. Photo by Ashley Collins.

GROOMING TIME: Michael Gascon brushes his horse, Tito, a three-time champion Paso Fino horse, inside the stables. Photo by Ashley Collins.


Horses have played a huge role in Michael Gascon’s life. His family comes from a long line of horse trainers, which can be traced all the way back to Andalucía, Spain and the old American West.

Like those before him, Gascon is a horse trainer and now owns the Southern Horse and Outdoorsman Club, which is home to the Horse Haven ranch in Poplarville.

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His parents, who built the horse ranch, passed down the family business to Gascon almost three years ago.

“I got my professional horse training contract around two and a half years ago, the day I got it, my parents handed the horse business to me,” Gascon said. “They told me, you’ve been training your whole life for this so here you go.”

His parents are fourth and fifth generation horse trainers.

“They met in North Carolina and got married,” Gascon said. “When I was ten, we moved out here to Poplarville and the farm just grew from there.”

Horse Haven ranch is home to the top 85 Paso Fino horses, which are the oldest native breed of horses in the Western Hemisphere, Gascon said.

“In the beginning, my family imported many Paso Fino horses from Colombia and Puerto Rico,” he said. “The farm grew so much over the years that now Puerto Rico, Colombia and Mexico buy horses from us.”

Gascon said Paso Fino horses are relatively unknown in this country.

“The Paso Fino is the world’s smoothest horse. They’re born with a natural gait,” Gascon said. “But a lot of people don’t know about them, yet anybody without experience at any age can ride one easily.”

Over the years, Gascon, his parents and his sister, have participated and won numerous national and world championships for their horses. Their medals and plaques are hung inside the ranch office.

Since beginning his professional career, Gascon said his father was the one who inspired him to become a horse trainer.

“I saw my father win a world cup in San Juan, Puerto Rico when I was four. The arena was standing room only and when he won, he got the big cup and the people collapsed all around him,” Gascon said. “In that moment I realized I wanted to be in that position.”

Currently, Gascon is working on building his professional brand in the horse industry.

“We have a television show in the works for RFD-TV, which is the rural television network on Direct TV. That’s what most horse people in country watch to see how to train their horse,” Gascon said.

The show will center on Gascon and his horse Tito, a three-time champion.

While he’s trying to build his brand, he said his main goal is to spread awareness about the Paso Fino horses.

“In this country, not many people know what a Paso Fino horse is. I plan to be the first crossover trainer in mainstream America,” Gascon said. “Most Paso Fino trainers are Hispanic and only speak Spanish, so they don’t have that crossover ability to spread the word about these horses.”

On a daily basis, Gascon works at the ranch with his team to raise, break, train and breed horses.

“We eat, breathe and sleep horses. We get horses from all over the country to get trained and we send horses all over the world to sell to people,” Gascon said.

When they’re not busy working with horses, they provide outsiders a chance to experience the horses for themselves.

“The Southern Horse and Outdoorsman Club is more of the entertainment side of our business,” Gascon said.

The club offers trail rides through 150 miles of nature trails, horse riding lessons, venues for weddings and parties and room and board at their cowboy quarters.

The ranch and club is located at 270 H. Burge Rd. in Poplarville.

For more information, visit http://southernhorsetrailriding.com or http://www.horsehavenpasofinos.com.