Originally Posted by Darrin
In a nutshell, no and that goes for all gaited horses. The truth is it's easier to trot or pace then it is to gait for most. For the naturally gaited horse it is reversed, gaiting for them is easier then trotting or pacing. FYI, TWH gait is a cross between a trot and pace and why I'm using that as an example. For those not naturally gaited it takes a proper collection and being muscled up to gait properly as it is work for them.
As an exercise, pick the breed you are interested in and learn what their gait looks like. Now go watch them in a pasture environment. Naturally gaited horses will be out in the pasture screwing around in gait all the time. Non naturally gaited horses will be passing in and out of gait as they move around. Under saddle both will be gaiting all the time assuming their training is completed.
What I didn't say before, not all horses of a gaited breed can gait. In rare instances you get one that just can't do it, call them a genetic throwback. In the same vein, a non-gaited breed can actually throw out a horse that has some sort of gait in it. The trick is being able to recognize that gait and working with the horse to bring it out.
To add to this, a naturally gaited TWH will do a flat walk in the pasture absolutely and no other gait, if you go looking at TWH and the horse you're looking at doesn't flat walk consistently the entire time that it is at a walk -turn around and leave as it will be a lot of work or it wont work.
There is a degree in any TWH where muscling is a factor for the speed they are able to do and hold the gait, no different that a person at the gym on a treadmill...there is a proper form for running and when a person runs too fast for their ability they lose form and get lazy, don't pick their feet up as high etc, so they train and improve their endurace so they can run faster in form. But if you can't speed them up at all and see a faster walk then you'e not looking at a naturally gaited horse.
My mare flat walks and run walks all over the pasture -all of our horses do, as they were bred for a natural gait but many breeders use the big lick lines because they are grandeous, and prove in their classes ...but those often produce pacey horses and those lines are in so many breeding programs it is very hard not to find a horse with tendencies to some degree.