Types of Horse Gaits

Horses are beautiful animals. The history of the many different breeds of horses is intertwined with the history of our own human race, as for thousands of years, humans have ridden horses. Horses have carried humans on travels, into battles, in races, and more. Horses are significant because of their ability to travel long distances and at different speeds. And the speed of a horse depends, to a large extent, on its gait.

What is a horse’s “gait?”

Essentially, a horse gait is a way that a horse walks or runs. Horses don’t always walk or run in the same way. Depending on which gait it is using, a horse may lift and put down its hooves in a different order, and different sets of hooves may be on the ground or in the air at the same time.

 

Horses that are easy to ride have distinct gaits at different speeds and can transition between those gaits smoothly. In fact, humans have bred horses in order to achieve these traits. A horse breed that has distinct gaits which can be switched between comfortably while riding is said to a “gaited” breed. Most breeds of horses that you see humans riding around are gaited.

Types of horse gaits

Gaited horses generally have four basic gaits. The slowest of the major horse gaits is the walk. This simply means the horse is walking. For horses, walking means moving each leg independently. The hooves each hit the ground at different times, so this gait is said to have four “beats.”

The next-slowest gait is the trot. In a trot, a horse moves its legs in two pairs. The front right leg is paired with the rear left leg, and the front left leg with the rear right one. The paired legs …

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