I know this is going to sound stupid but what makes a gaited horse, gaited?? Are there standards??
Yes there are I think they are different according to breed but there are standards. This is from the Rocky Mountain horse assoc. standard which is what I have :
The horse must have a natural ambling four beat gait (single foot or rack), with no evidence of pacing. When the horse moves you can count four distinct hoof beats which produce a cadence of equal rhythm just like a walk, left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore. Each individual horse has its own speed and natural way of going, traveling at 7-20 miles per hour. This is a naturally occurring gait present from birth that does not require training aids or action devices.
some saddlebreds are gaited from birth, others are taught to do a slow-gait (very collected singlefoot) and rack (faster version)
My one Bashkir Curly is gaited. They have the "curly shuffle" which is dirived from the Appaloosa shuffle aka indian shuffle. Not all are gaited and only ten percent of the breed have it. They are now breeding them to Missouri Fox Trotters to get both the curls and the gait. And yes, they have certain standards for them in order to be considered "gaited" :D
I have a foxtrotter, and I am still trying to figure out when she is in gait. But I know she's very smooth
What is a "curly shuffle" like? I knew someone at my old barn that had a Bashkir Curly...I never knew they could be a gaited horse!
Sorry it took me so long to respond, but thank you for getting back to me ;)
Gait standard for the Tennessee Walking Horse:
"The hallmark of the Tennessee Walking Horse is that head-bobbing, ear swinging, ground-covering running-walk gait. Some of the best snap their teeth in time to that unmistakable rhythm. Performed to perfection, the gait is a square, four-beat gait that glides along at speeds up to 12 miles per hour as the horse pulls forward from the shoulder and drives in behind with his rear legs. The horse alternates between two and three hooves on the ground at all times, which is what makes this gait so smooth to ride. It is, in fact, an animated walk at speed. Characteristic of the gait is the overstride in which each hind foot strikes the ground ahead of the same side's front hoofprint. This is the gait that covered vast stretches of frontier, carrying country doctors, parsons and snake oil salesmen along in fine, comfortable style."
Source: Tennessee Walking Horse - The Gaited Horse Magazine
I own two that do the running walk and one that does the dreaded stepping pace.
The two that do the running walk feel completely different because they are built totally different: one is tall, lanky, athletic-built and longer backed, while the other one is short-coupled and very stocky, almost Quarter Horse in appearance.
I am glad I was gait-stupid when I bought the step-pacer 18 years ago because he has never made one single mistake or mis-step in his life. He is the ultimate Stepford Horse. His stepping pace is every bit as smooth as my two that do the running walk and actually feels better to my tailbone:-)
He is also the handsome fella in my avatar. He was 16 and on lunch break on an organized ride. He just turned 21 in October.
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