Items

Forums
Basic Horse Gaits
 By Winniefield Park   •   8th Oct 2017   •   708 views   •   0 comments


A horse has three basic footfall patterns when they travel. We know them as walk, trot, and canter or lope. A gallop is sometimes called a fourth basic gait. But the footfall pattern is the same as the canter, just much more extended. Before there were cameras that could capture action shots, we didnít know what a horseís legs did when they were moving quickly, because our eyes canít keep up with the motion. The now-famous set of photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge revealed the mystery and painters were able to make more realistic representations of how a horse moved. Previous to that, pictures that you see of horses traveling quickly showed all four legs in the air. Thank goodness they donít really move like that!

There are more gaits, but these three (or four if you count the gallop) basic gaits are called the natural gaits.

Walk
The walk is a four beat gait, It is very smooth to ride, but not terribly fast. This is the gait at which most horses, whether they have extra gaits or not, travel when they are in their pasture. At the walk, two or three of the horseís hooves are on the ground at all times. This makes it a very safe and stable way to travel.

Trot
The trot is a two-beat gait. This is a common traveling gait, especially for horses in harness. There is a lot of variation in the speed of a trot. Some horses can do a slow, smooth jog for hours, and itís this type of trot that is particularly suitable for the slow motion work of herding cattle. Itís also a nice smooth gait to enjoy out on the trail. A faster trot can be a little rougher for the rider to sit. Extended trots are long and powerful. So, riders compensate by either standing up and balancing in the stirrups, or they post, rising and falling with the rhythm of the strides. An extremely powerful trot may lift the rider out of the saddle between strides allowing a little Ďhang timeí before the rider lowers back to the saddle seat.

For long distances, whether ridden or driven, the trot is the preferred gait. When pulling a vehicle, a walk can be painfully slow. A canter or gallop will cause a rough ride. But the trot will be efficient and smooth.

Canter or Lope
This is a three beat gait. At times, only one foot is left on the ground. When cantering, a horse will lead with either itís right or left legs, and the rider must learn to cue the horse to pick up the correct lead depending on the direction they plan to turn next. This helps keep the horse balanced. Many horses will learn to do this on their own. Because there is a moment when all four hooves are off the ground, the canter or lope is considered less stable, and less suitable for traveling over rough footing than a trot or walk.

Gallop
The gallop is the same footfall pattern as the canter, but because the horse is reaching out with its body and legs much further, the three beat rhythm turns into four beats. This is the racing mode for many horses. Itís rough ride in a horse-drawn vehicle, although itís a bit smoother if you have a team in front of you rather than a single horse. Because of the speed and the extended moments of suspension, it's also the most unstable of the gates. If a horse trip, itís hard for it to catch itself. And, again, being on the correct lead helps with balance. To stay in balance with a galloping horse, itís probably best to be up out of the saddle and over the horseís shoulders to help it use its hindquarters effectively. This is where both the impulsion and brakes come from.

Of the four natural gaits, riding a gallop is exhilarating. Iíve taken ex-racehorses out on a flat sandy stretch, and a horse, once it settles into stride feels like it drops down a few inches. You can hear nothing but the wind in your ears and the sound of the hooves. But, for the long haul, a good brisk trot is good for the soul. Whatís your favorite gait?
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
 More News by Winniefield Park
Travelers Get Ready For Appleby Horse Fair
16th Jun 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Appleby Fair, a somewhat controversial gathering of horse loving folk, Travelers and Gypsies, runs during the month of June. This annual event takes place in Appleby-in-Westmorland in Cumbria County, Britain. The event attracts ab ...
Southern Maine Women's Re-entry Center
15th Jun 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
There are so many ways horses enrich our lives and for women in the Southern Maine Women's Re-entry Center, learning to care for horses and spending time with them is an important step in changing their lives. ...
Horse Pulled from Debris after Surviving Tornado
7th Jun 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
One man near Linwood, Kansas found his horse only a few yards from his property, but bringing him home wasnít as simple as snapping on a lead shank. Rather, the horse, Zino, was found caught in mire, running water and covered in t ...
Savannah Carriage Rides in Extreme Heat
5th Jun 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Like so many other cities and tourist areas around the world, Savannah, Georgia is grappling with issues surrounding carriage horses. Even in the hottest days of summer, Savannahís three carriage operators give tours through histo ...
Galloping Girl Jumps to Fame
1st Jun 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
A young woman has achieved internet fame after video of her demonstrating her unique skill went viral. Ayla Kirstine of Norway has loved animals since childhood and in an effort to emulate one of her favorites, has learned to walk ...
Derby Winner Foals Slaughtered in South Korea Race Industry
31st May 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
As the popularity of horse racing increases in South Korea, so has the number of horses that are sent for slaughter. Most sources claim the number of horses slaughtered has tripled. And while most of the horses are raised for that ...
Equestion Knowledge App
25th May 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
If you are studying for Pony Club quizzes, BHS exams or just about any other test of your horse knowledge you will probably find the Equestion app very useful. But learning theory for tests is not the only thing the app was design ...
Wild Horses Harassed
22nd May 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
In Arizona, an amatuer photographer caught video of a man she thought was shooting at horses in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest reserve. The herd living on the reserve is protected, but since October 2018, over 19 of the 300 ...
  View All News by Winniefield Park
 
©2002 - 2019   PonyBox LLC Create Account Terms & Conditions Privacy Contact Us
626 Members Online 246,674 Registered Members 2,579 News Articles 10,821,908 Unique News Article Views 247,889,604 Website Views