Can someone explain a gaited horse to me? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 123 Old 11-17-2010, 11:45 PM
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Here is a link to a video of one of the champion lite shod Tennessee Walkers. This guy is a stallion in the midwest, and his owner is a big supporter of the Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) -
. This is a great example of a naturally gaited horse doing a running walk.
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post #12 of 123 Old 11-18-2010, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by walkinthewalk View Post
Liz Graves does a great job of explaining the intermediate gaits of various gaited breeds.

Easy-gaited horses: gentle, humane ... - Google Books
That book is by Lee Ziegler not Liz Graves. And to avoid sounding like a know-it-all, I'm just going to refer those with questions to that book since some inaccurate things have been posted here.

The thing you have to understand is that it wasn't until very recently that gaited horses were studied scientifically. There are still many myths about them so you have to be careful where you get your info from. The book Easy-Gaited Horses is regarded as the Bible on the subject.
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post #13 of 123 Old 11-18-2010, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Rosy View Post
I don't know about the other breeds but I have a fox trotter and she does have the normal gaits. Walk, trot, canter, and gallop. I have even barrel raced with her for fun. When she gaits it is smooth. I don't know how to explain it but its very smooth and ground covering. I know that is not much help in explaining it.
Same with me. I have a Spotted Saddle mare that walks, trots, canters and gallops...well I assume she gallops, we have never gotten that fast before! Still working on her to move forward into the trot and canter!
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post #14 of 123 Old 11-18-2010, 07:24 PM
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Someone posted that it was physically impossible for many gaited breeds to trot. This is actually not true. They all have the means and ability to trot (and canter, as a side note), but they are not trained or bred to do so. They are conformationally the same as a trotting horse. Gaiting in a genetically ingrained behavior. It is simply natural to them to gait.

Some will trot when they're getting lazy and are not made to stay in a gait. Some horses simply hate to trot and will gait constantly, even at liberty.
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post #15 of 123 Old 11-18-2010, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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Very interesting! We have some debates going on here. :) I will keep following closely to see what conclusions you guys come to. Thank you for the video Lady Trails...that looks totally weird to me, like he's going to break into a trot or canter at any given moment! It is not difficult for the horse to do that for a long period of time? Can you jump a gaited horse? Is their canter any different than that of a normal WTC horse? Sorry for all the questions...this is just making me more curious! :)

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post #16 of 123 Old 11-19-2010, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Brighteyes View Post
Someone posted that it was physically impossible for many gaited breeds to trot. This is actually not true. They all have the means and ability to trot (and canter, as a side note), but they are not trained or bred to do so. They are conformationally the same as a trotting horse. Gaiting in a genetically ingrained behavior. It is simply natural to them to gait.

Some will trot when they're getting lazy and are not made to stay in a gait. Some horses simply hate to trot and will gait constantly, even at liberty.
i have never riden a gaited horse that trots when they are getting lazy. Most here are racking horses & they never trot! Some will PACE when they are getting laxy, but never trot!!!

Around here there are many gaited horses. They are bred specially to gait, not trot. When the foals are born, the breeder will say..."look at those crooked legs! That's a good one!"

Conformationally, they are different. The hind legs are set back more & wobble in the hocks. The breeders LOVE IT if they see the hocks rolling around! That means the horse will rack very well...

Saddlebreds can be 3 or 5 gaited, with trot in both types. however, many racking horses can not trot. it doesn't happen, from the time they are born! I would love to see one of you try to get them to trot!

The gait they do looks like a pace, but is a little different, more four beat. The Tennessee Walkers have a "head-bobbin" gait where it looks like they are troting in front but walking in the back. There is little to no suspension which is why it is so smooth to ride. The "big Lick" walk on the padded shoes is very weird to ride, i can't really describe it, but if you get the opportunity to try, DO IT!!

I have riden many of these horses & even owned a few. Also I had a pony that was 1/2 racking horse & 1/2 shetland. it is very common in the south to use a shetland pony for a teasing stallion because the thinking is that they are not big enough to get the mare pg, however, every once in a while the shetland convinces the mare to cooperate...the result is a pony like mine, walk, rack, trot & canter.

If you want to ride some, make a trip to Tennessee & go on some rides. The rider doesn't post except on Saddlebreds & Park Morgans & Arabians.

The paso's do a shorter stepping looks like they are going over hot sand (ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch!) Also I see a lot of them paddling in the front.

Around here, riders get upset if there are Saddlebreds & Racking horses in the same class because the movement of the two is soooooooooo different!
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post #17 of 123 Old 11-19-2010, 10:27 AM
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AnitaAnne I have a gaited horse that does trot. There may be some who can't trot but I have ridden walking horses that did trot.
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post #18 of 123 Old 11-19-2010, 10:48 AM
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Many racking horses are built to trot, and many walking horses are built to pace.

I like my walking horses to pace to build rear end. Even padded horses are trained to do a hard gait(usually pace) to build rear end. This is usually when they're 18 months old, and they start showing at the Walk at 2 years.
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post #19 of 123 Old 11-19-2010, 10:29 PM
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My Walker mare will trot or stepping pace if she gets 'strung out' at a speedy running walk, because when she's not in good condition it's harder to stay in gait at high speeds or on uneven ground. Since I have quarter horses the trot is easy to recognize. Her 'square trot' (like a QH trot) is soft as a WP jog trot with just a little more animation - sweet! I don't encourage it because I'm still trying to keep her able to do a speed running walk. The pace is harder to catch, but it has more of a side-to-side rhythm that isn't the smooth glide of the runing walk.

Hrsrdr, regarding your comment that the gait on the video looked like the horse was ready to break out into a trot or canter...when you're riding that gait (look at the rider) it feels like the horse's four legs and head/neck are humming along like a well tuned machine while you're sitting gracefully and quietly aboard. It doesn't feel like a transition, like the horse is gathering up, ready to change gaits. It also feels fast! In a ride a few weeks ago, I clocked my mare at her regular walk on our gravel roads (she goes much smoother and faster on a smooth dirt trail). She was 5 MPH at the regular easy walk, about 6 MPH for an energetic forward moving walk, and a little over 7 MPH at the running walk. Because we were on gravel, I couldn't get her up into her fast running walk and "ride the glidei"; she kicks up gravel and doesn't 'fly' on gravel like she does on the dirt trails.

Last edited by Ladytrails; 11-19-2010 at 10:31 PM.
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post #20 of 123 Old 11-20-2010, 09:59 AM
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Gait Primer for the Trotting Rider

There are many misconceptions about “gaited” horses. A lateral, as opposed to diagonal, way of going is not uncommon in the animal world. It is not the result of lameness or physical defect. It is just another variation on a theme.

The gaited horse of European antiquity was a road horse. It was an animal designed to get a rider from here to there in relative comfort. Prior to modern times there were three ways to travel on land: wheeled conveyance, astride, or “shank’s mare.” Between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance most European roads were little more than dirt tracks (except for the remnants of the Roman road system). A comfortable horse was valuable. It also had to be able to navigate washouts, downed trees, and bandits. Jumping and sprinting ability would be important. So would the ability to move laterally in response to the leg. This history is important because these were the foundation gaited horses exported to the New World starting with Christopher Columbus.

To visualize gait, draw a line on a piece of paper, maybe eight inches long. On the right end of the line make a mark and label it “trot.” On the left end make a mark and label it “pace.” In the center make a mark and label it “center gait.” Now we have a “template” where we can place the different ways of going of the different types of gaited horses. This will allow a comparison without getting lost in breed-specific terminology.

Any horse to the left of the center gait will be a lateral horse. Gaits here include the rack, stepping pace, marcha picada, etc. Gaits to the right of center will include the foxtrot, marcha batida, etc.

There is sometimes a problem in terminology. The “pace” on the left end of the line is a true pace, a two beat, lateral gait. In a great deal of equine literature the term “pacing/pacy horse” is applied to any horse with a gait that is not a “trot” (a two beat diagonal gait with a moment of suspension). The reader must take great care to ensure what the writer means. Similarly, the horse to the right of the center is “trotty.” This is sloppy language. Sloppy language often leads to sloppy thinking. To try and tighten the language I’m going to use the terms “lateral” for “pacy” and “diagonal” for “trotty.”

The lateral gait is the smoothest because the horse is using its body to absorb the shock of hoof impact with the ground. The lateral gaits also demand more of the horse in terms of energy expenditure and, as the gait moves further to the left of the spectrum it will require the horse to travel with a hollow back. In the trotting world a hollow back is a serious no-no. It is not so serious in the laterally gaited world as long as the rider manages the problem. This means mixing the gaits (including the canter) during the course of a ride.

The diagonal gait is less smooth but permits more athletic movement (lateral movements, quick changes in direction or speed, etc.). You don’t “post” a diagonal gait, you “sit” it.

To get an idea of just how the lateral gait works perform this exercise, first described by Dr. Deb Bennett. Get down on all fours on a carpeted floor (for comfort) and “walk” using the normal equine foot fall sequence. Now “trot” moving diagonal pairs. Don’t try for a “moment of suspension.” Get a feel for the movement. Then “pace” using lateral pairs. Again, try and get a feeling for the movement. If you are doing it correctly then you will find the exercise is considerably more challenging and will require more energy. A correctly performed center gait (running walk or equivalent) is a relatively low energy gait. The trot is next, followed by the pace.

Since a human is not a horse the above exercise is an approximation. But it it’s useful as a demonstration of the energy budget in types of movement.

The diagonal gaits are not common in North American gaited horses. Thus they are almost never discussed. But they exist, and those who make blanket statements like “gaited horses never trot” just have never been to Brazil where there are 350,000 Mangalarga Marchadors (which will trot nicely) plus several tens of thousands more of Campolinas and Mangalarga Paulistas. The Paulista is almost always a trotter, but may also have a “fourth gear” (from its Marchador heritage). The Campolia gait, the marcha verdadeira, is described as an “ambling” gait, suggesting it’s lateral. I’ve only seen a couple and they were quite centered. They also have a strong trotting heritage, however (from Andalusian, Anglo-Norman, Clydesdale, Holsteiner, and American Saddle Horse blood). The gait likely comes from its Barb blood, refined by the addition of Mangalarga Marchador blood.

This is important because all the gaited horses found in the world today are mixtures and all carry multiple gaits. For an interesting discussion see this thread:

Conformationally, the laterally gaited horse may have some subtle differences, such as a very slightly longer rear leg, permitting the “overstride” necessary for some gaits. This will often give that horse, standing squarely, the appearance of being “downhill.” This is not a negative in this type of horse.

One thing that is a serious negative is crooked rear legs (a/k/a “sickle hocks”). A longer, but straight, rear leg is strong and capable. A crooked leg is weaker and will, in time, cause the horse to breakdown. It may also contribute to the much higher incidence of stiffle issues found in laterally gaited horses. This is Conformation 101 (combined with Equine Biomechanics 101).

A diagonally gaited horse will have virtually no conformational variations from its trotting cousins. The main difference will be in the brain, were the timing of the footfalls begins.

This piece is already much longer than I intended but the level of mis- and dis-information in the gaited world is really significant. The gaited horse comes in many “flavors” and each will have its own abilities and virtues. Conformation and way of going are closely linked, but way of going can be altered by rider position, tack, foot care practices, etc. A trot is a trot is a trot, but gait exists along that continuum we sketched out above. To effectively ride the gaited horse takes some skill in riding and husbandry. Gaited horses cannot do everything a trotter can do, and vice versa. The rule of Horses for Courses still applies.

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