Talk:Horse gait

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Canter & Gallop[edit]

I'm no horse expert, but shouldn't the gallop or run be listed as a fourth gait after the canter? Daniel Quinlan 02:30, Aug 11, 2003 (UTC)


There is no unanimity among various speakers of English. Some people seem to use canter to refer to the three beat "run" and gallop to refer to the four beat "all out run". Other speakers don't use one or the other term at all. Check out the Littauer book I cited. "Gallop" comes into English from old French, and ultimately traces back to a word that means "to run." "Canter" is a contraction of the expression "Canterbury gallop," the slow pace at which pilgrims made their way toward Canterbury. So there is some historical grounds for saying that "canter" should mean slower and "gallop" should mean any "run" or a fast "run." Anyway, any horse book that I've already seen speaks of three gaits. And there are "three-gaited horses" and "five-gaited horses." The five-gaited horses do the original 3 plus two other gaits, neither of which is a "fast canter."

The important thing is that there are several different ways that horses can order the movements of their legs. I'm looking for one of my books that may describe the other two gaits that five-gaited horses do. Harnes racing horses either trot or "pace. In the pace, both legs on the left side move, then both legs on the right side move.

It is these mechanics that we need to get down clearly. What people, as individuals, prefer to call the gaits is an "ee-thur" "eye-thur" kind of question, I think.

Patrick0Moran 03:50, 11 Aug 2003 (UTC)


I've read in various places that canter and gallop are two separate gaits. I tried a modification to the article to distinguish a bit more between the two. I'm finding sources that point either way on the net:

vs. (first two are about Icelandic horses, the latter is a comment from a Spanish reader regarding the first link I listed above)

From this, I'm left to conclude that 3 vs. 4 is a matter of perspective, opinion, language, culture, or some combination of those. I'm going to see if I can make appropriate changes to the article to present a NPOV. Daniel Quinlan 06:26, Aug 11, 2003 (UTC)


Well, I'm done that, I hope the result is to everyone's liking. Now, someone just needs to merge the information found in gaits into this article; it looks like the majority of the articles linking to gaits are about human gaits or are at least not about horse gaits (a few are about horse gaits, though). Daniel Quinlan 08:54, Aug 11, 2003 (UTC)


I think there may have been some sense that the word "canter" is elegant, and "gallop" is crude. Also the language is changing. (I expect to hear a BBC announcer say something like, "She writed her name on form," any day now.)

There are lots of people who express opinions on the WWW, not all of them qualified to make authoritative determinations. In principle, I would rather go with a recognized authority like Margaret Cabell Self. In her book Horsemastership, she says: "The correct term for the canter is the gallop and until a few years ago only the term gallop was used in international competition. However many people think that a canter is the slow form of a gallop and in the most recent book on the Olympic Games put out by the British Horse Society the term canter is used." She then goes on to give 5 subcategories of the gallop.

Her book was written in 1952, so there has been plenty of time for the language to change. I think the right thing to do is to concentrate on the description of the gait and its sub-divisions, and then say that there are different choices of terms made for these several variations and the gait(s).

Patrick0Moran 02:14, 12 Aug 2003 (UTC)


I just added

In a right-lead gallop, the sequence of events is the following: after the suspension phase, the left hind foot hits the ground, then the right hind foot, placed in front of the left hind foot. The left front foot hits the ground, then the right front foot, placed in front of the left front foot. Then the horse reaches the suspension phase again.

I'm unclear as to when the various feet leave the ground. Does the left hind foot leave the ground before or after the left front foot hits the ground? Does the right hind foot leave the ground before or after the right front foot hits the ground? In other words, is there ever a point in time when there are three feet touching the ground? AxelBoldt 21:10, 31 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Ok, I found the answer here, will add an explanation shortly. AxelBoldt 22:25, 31 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The etymology of canter is as you say from Canterbury - and amazingly at one time people did actually think a canter was just a slow gallop - happily for art lovers everywhere Muybridge and his motion picture experiment disproved the four foot 'rocking-horse' flyer and showed us that a gallop and a canter are two distinct gaits.

Modern authority (i.e. the British Horse Society) is quite clear that the gallop is distinct from the canter and the BHS examines the transition between the canter and gallop as two separate gaits. GavinCorder (talk) 14:37, 14 January 2010 (UTC)


Five-beat gait[edit]

Piers Anthony in one of his books refers to a five-beat gait used by a unicorn in an unsuccessful attempt to unseat a rider. Is this actually possible or is this a totally made-up idea? --Phil | Talk 13:51, Jul 22, 2004 (UTC)

§ There is something called a "disunited canter" in which the horse somehow scrambles the normal sequence. I'm not sure what the sequence could be, but it is very uncomfortable for the rider and probably for the horse. I think the horse pushes off with a front leg, let's say the left leg. There is a moment when almost all the horse's weight is on the front left leg. Then the horse lands on the right front and the right rear leg, as though it were one beat of the pace. With momentum going forward it now has only one choice of what to land on, the left rear foot. If it were to land next on the right front foot it would be in position to get a normal canter going, but it can't do that because it's just used its right front foot and can't reach forward with it in time, so it lands on all it's got left, which is the left front foot. Then it lands on the right front and right rear, which is what it did the first time around. If it were to pace the legs used would be right, but it is not putting right front and right rear and then left front and left rear down exactly together because it is still trying to canter. So in all the confusion you actually might get five individual beats going as the horse joggles back and forth trying to regain its balance. I'm just guessing. Somebody would have to use high-speed motion photography to really figure it out I guess. But it feels like you are riding a washing machine in spin cycle with an unbalanced load. P0M 14:55, 22 Jul 2004 (UTC)

No, a "disunited canter" is the same as "cross-firing" (see canter). A disunited canter will produce 3 beats. A five-beated gait is totally made up, and not seen in any equids today. They will only put each foot down once in a a stride, its just the variables of the stide (length of time each foot is down, and sequence of footfalls) that changes the gait. So unless you know of a five-legged horse, their isn't a five-beat gait. --Eventer

"Non-natural gaits" info appears incorrect[edit]

WP:V Only two gaits are natural to wild horses: the walk and the gallop. The trot and the canter have been developed in horses through domestication, breeding, and training. (Similarly, back at horse, there's the line The canter is not a natural gait, but a restrained form of a gallop.) Where did that come from?

First, the trot is a basic horse gait. Even day-old foals can and do trot, so it's not taught. The trot is the basic "going somewhere" gait for a horse.

The canter is a natural gait, too. The normal horse gait for fast movement is a canter; the gallop is more for emergencies, and most breeds can't sustain it for very long. Young horses do canter.

There's a gait tutorial for young riders here: [1], and it says the usual, that walk, trot, canter, and gallop are all natural gaits.

See this note from Temple Grandin on herding wild mustangs at trot and canter.[2].

There are some subtle intermediate forms possible between the canter and the gallop; see [3]. It's possible, although difficult, to gradually change from one to the other. But that's something done at the higher levels of dressage only, and has to be taught. Most horses will explicitly transition. But, since at the higher levels of equitation, those intermediate forms are seen, there's a tendency to use one term for both gaits. AT that level, you're teaching the horse to dance.

More cites are available if needed, from Xenophon to Podjasky to the British Pony Club Manual.

That "canter is not a natural gait" line is now all over the web, all copied from Wikipedia. --John Nagle 23:26, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

I'll look at this and see if I can make some sense of the controversy and come up with something that explains the whole thing. Bottom line is that what is a "natural" or an "artificial" gait is sort of arbitrary. Horses can do any number of very weird things with their feet when loose in a pasture. A horse that feels good may "naturally" execute the "artificial" airs above the ground, and, what really IS the difference between the "artificial" Piaffe and a naturally "prancing" horse, other than one you want and the other is a pain-in-the-neck disobedience? But anyway, I will think on the matter and see what can be done. Montanabw 04:41, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
It is my understanding that all dressage 'maneuvers' are based on natural movements, including passage, piaffe, levade, etc. --AeronM (talk) 03:14, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes. This discussion section brings up a lot of material that I think should be in the article. Which reminds me, to the list of natural movements add: prong! --Una Smith (talk) 03:51, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Ryan Barks : I have always been taught that there are 4 types of gaits walk, trot/special gait, lope/canter, and gallop/run. Everything else is semantics I think. Your basic garden variety horse will do all of these gaits in the pasture nearly from birth. The "straight goinig" breeds (quarter horse, thoroughbred, morgan, arabian, appaloosa, etc) walk, trot, canter, gallop. Call them what you will, those are the movements. The so called "gaited horses" will naturally walk, gait (running walk, paso largo, foxtrot, etc), canter, and gallop. through training some will lose the canter and only walk, gait, gait faster, and eventually gallop.

I do not claim to be an expert myself, but I know people who definitly are. My father has been in the gaited horse business for nearly 20 years.

this is an interesting discussion because as I understand it there was some debate for years on what happens to a horses feet when running. with the invention of slow motion photography we knw know that there is a suspension phase. Some people say a gallop is a 4 beat gait. I still say it is three. Listen to a horse run on a hard packed surface. It is three beats, like a canter, just a different rhythm. Techincally from seeing it in slow motion there are four separate footfalls, but you dont hear them that way. A trot is two, a pace is two, but a different two. A "gait" is four. A walk, is, well a walk is a walk.

Merge of tolt[edit]

I didn't put in the merge tag, but it's an interesting question. Fundamental question is if we should have all the gaits in one article, merging the other articles in, or go the other way and be sure there is a separate article for each gait and link a brief summary here to the main article (I think most do have separate articles, though not necessarily linked here). Anyone else who wants to comment? Montanabw 20:32, 22 September 2006 (UTC)


I think that the running walk and the flat walk (from the Tennessee walkers) should also be put in- these wonderful horses have gaits all their own. (see Tennessee Walking Horse on this site). Katibug 10:44 PM Oct 1 06

I think it's already in there, probably buried in a section with the other unusual gaits. This article overall is kind of a disorganized mess and needs some cleanup, IMHO. Montanabw 06:23, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

"Disunited" gallop[edit]

This article, conveniently, but inadvertantly I'm sure, contains an excellent example of a horse moving in an "incorrect" gait: the cartoon-like rotoscope (the second one down) of the gallop is not a proper gallop.

Look at the photographic rotoscope above the white, cartoon-like one I am referencing. In a correct (natural) gallop the horse never has both legs from one side down at the same time. The cartoon-like illustration shows the near (closest to the viewer) hind foot stepping down, then the far hind steps followed by the far front, then the near front.

A "disunited" gait occurs when the rider or the horse (or both) is off balance upon starting the gait, when the horse is mis-cued by the rider or when the rider wants the horse to gallop (or canter) incorrectly for a short while as an exercise. The gait is wrong because it causes the horse to be off balanced, and horse and rider could both fall if they try this gait on a circle, therefore, horses at liberty rarely if ever travel disunited.Taosein 21:17, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Canter[edit]

It says that the leading leg is the front left while it is the inside front leg, the leading leg changing depending which reign the rider is on.

Your comment would be more credible if you could spell "rein" correctly. That said, will review text and clarify if needed. Montanabw(talk) 18:48, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Group gaits[edit]

In biomechanical terms, amble and walk are walking gaits, trot and pace are running gaits, canter and gallop (separate or together) are leaping gaits. I propose to reorganize this article accordingly. --Una Smith (talk) 02:27, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Leads and lead changes apply only to leaping gaits (canter and gallop). Also, the discussion of whether canter and gallop are one or two gaits would make more sense if together in an article with descriptions of both. --Una Smith (talk) 04:35, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
As to biomechanical terms, I cannot agree that this would be a suitable way to reorganize, though I see no harm in some reference to biomechanics within the sections. I think it is critical to look in terms of what actual horse people say and do as well. You would be departing dramatically from what people come across in books on equestrianism and horse gaits, (particularly in calling the trot a "running" gait) which could create a lot of confusion (given that wikipedia is usually the number one search result in most Google searches) and could even come pretty close to original research. Montanabw(talk) 23:30, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
Canter and gallop probably should be in one article and one section here, I actually agree with you there, but the 3 beat/4 beat issue has been hashed out over and over again and so I think I would prefer to just let sleeping dogs lie. Montanabw(talk) 23:30, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
If I may weigh in briefly, probably one of the best books on horse gaits is: Harris, Susan E. (1993). Horse Gaits, Balance and Movement. New York: Howell Book House. ISBN 0-87605-955-8.  which I, in a moment of extreme energy, used to source parts of this article. Most horse people think in terms of the number of beats in the gait, not in the biological biomechanical terms. While I understand the desire to add information on the biomechanical aspects (and fully support that effort, I might add), how most everyday horsepeople experience the gaits also is important and needs to be kept in mind. She breaks them down into "Walk", "Trot", "Canter", "Gallop", "Rein-back (backing up)", "Pace", "The Amble and its Derivatives", "Transitions [between gaits]", and "Jump". Ealdgyth - Talk 23:47, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
There is more than enough room to explain the 3 beat/4 beat difference between canter and gallop, and the other details of concern to horse people, but this is not a horse encyclopedia and it distresses me that most of the gait pages are written as though all 4-legged animals are horses. I expect most of the content on gaits won't stay in Horse gait but rather will end up in stand alone articles on the gaits themselves. Horse gait could then explain how gaits are grouped by horsemen and in the field of biomechanics. I know only enough about how horsemen do it to know that there are other common sort orders beyond the one given by Harris. And there are even different foundations: in addition to the number of beats per stride, there is the number of moments of suspension in the stride: 0 in walk, 2 in trot and pace, 1 in canter, 1 or 2 in gallop. --Una Smith (talk) 02:35, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
As long as how horse people talk about gaits (in all the various systems) stays much the same and is accessible and not wiped out, I can't object to articles on the various types of animal locomotion. I'm not sure why you think that we need to remove this information, why not write a Walk (animal gait) article that covers all aspects, and leave the walk section here, as it seems rather horse-oriented. There is no need to wipe content here just to put it into a general animal gait article, as you say, there is plenty of space available. I guess I'm not seeing where the comment "this is not a horse encyclopedia" came from. The article is pretty clearly about horses, it's right there in the title. I can see that you might want to rework say the Canter article to be less horse centric, but I think I'd just rename the Canter article to Canter (horse gait) and rework the Canter article to be a general article on that animal gait. Ealdgyth - Talk 02:44, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I'll think about that more, but my initial answer is this. Currently Horse gait has a narrow and unencyclopedic POV. On the one hand, it lacks much of the known diversity of horse gaits and of horse gait classification schemes. On the other hand, it describes the more common gaits as if they occur only in horses. Granted, the article title is Horse gait, but as far as the biomechanics go horses are not unusual so I think some of its current content should go to other articles and new content should be added that is specific to horse gaits. --Una Smith (talk) 04:04, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Just thinking out loud..... do cows canter? Dogs? I guess they do, we just don't call it that. Which reminds me of this cute video. (Love the tempi changes!).  : ) --AeronM (talk) 03:24, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes, cows and dogs canter: in my experience cows use the transverse canter, whereas dogs use the rotational canter. --Una Smith (talk) 04:04, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
In my humble opinion, this article is titled "horse gait." So, obviously, it is about horses. What is so "narrow POV" about that? Some of what is being discussed here about other animals could go into animal locomotion or a new article on animal gaits. Conversely, I really don't see what is being omitted on horse gaits here, (the various sections got so extensive most were spun out into new articles on each gait or type of gait) and as for the rest, Una, you are doing this thing of on one hand calling an article too narrow, but simultaneously wanting to delete sections because you think they belong in other (usually more obscure) articles, and then also calling the whole article a POV fork. This is at least the third or fourth time I have seen you do this? It is difficult to understand what your motives are here, and I really do want to assume that you are acting in good faith, but they appear, on the surface, to simply be intended to be disruptive and to promote some theory that isn't even clearly expressed (as in what "diversity of horse gait classification schemes?"). I know that saying this is just throwing fat on the fire yet again, but please also remember WP:NOR and WP:SOAP. Montanabw(talk) 22:54, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
If there is a place in Wikipedia for ad hominem remarks, that would be on user talk pages, not here. --Una Smith (talk) 03:52, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Question[edit]

I have read in some places that the reverse/backing up is considered a gait, and differentiated from the walk in that the footfalls are not the same.... any thoughts on whether or not to add to article? --AeronM (talk) 20:54, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

If it's true that the footfalls are different, it should probably have a spot. Despite having ridden for years, I really don't pay that much attention to the footfalls so I'm not an expert on gaits (grins). Ealdgyth - Talk 21:26, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
When horses back up, their legs move in pairs. Right at the moment, if memory serves, I think it's in diagonal pairs (need to go to the barn and ask someone to back up for me and double check...) In essence, like a trot, only slow and backwards (making me think of the line about Ginger Rogers, did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels...) whatever you guys want to do, backing up sort of is and isn't a gait, but I think mentioning it in some fashion is probably a good idea. There is also the article rein back. Montanabw(talk) 03:04, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree rein back qualifies as a gait: it is stereotypic and because there is no moment of suspension it is not a trot in reverse. (I have seen a horse "canter" in reverse, a circus act; it was peculiar!) --Una Smith (talk) 06:55, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
Which leads me to another question: the term 'rein back' is Western, but not English. Is there an equivalent term for English? And should we differentiate them? Just wondering out loud. --AeronM (talk) 17:56, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia has a few articles about words or expressions, but for the most part Wiktionary is the more appropriate place for those. If the gait is the same in both persuasions, I don't see merit in having separate articles. --Una Smith (talk) 22:26, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
Actually, out west, we think of "rein back" as a word that English riders use! LOL! We just say "back." I have no clue where "rein back" came from, I've seen it mostly in Dressage books, personally. I suggest we have Ealdgyth check that great book on gaits she has and see how it's classed there, and then source whatever is there. Montanabw(talk) 04:04, 6 April 2008 (UTC)
The rein back is English terminology. See the http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&rlz=1B3GGGL_enGB234GB234&q=site%3Awww.bhs.org.uk+rein+back&btnG=Search&meta=&aq=f&oq= British Horse Society pages for examples. 80.0.214.219 16:12, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Ah, British English. Once again, we are separated by a common language. Odd too that it is really only seen in the US with the dressage crowd, you don't really even hear it used in general English riding unless dressage-oriented. USEF rules usually just say "back" for most classes. Montanabw(talk) 22:00, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
It's not a matter of semantics but international rulebooks and standard terminology! And I assure you that you do hear it in general English riding from pony club through to the Olympics! GavinCorder (talk) 21:52, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I am aware of that, my point is simpler: The term is not used for western riding nor in saddle seat English riding, where the term is simply "back" or back up." ("Stand quietly and back readily" being standard lingo in pleasure class judging specs) It also isn't used in hunt seat or hunter classes at breed shows. It originates with the Dressage world and is correct within that context, which clearly includes the other Olympic disciplines and pony clubbers, all of which are strongly "cross-fertilized" by the dressage tradition. And the dressage tradition is wonderful. But the whole discussion (two years ago) began because someone thought you said "rein back" in western riding, when the reality is that it's just very stuffy in the US to say "rein-back" outside of the sport horse world, and even there the H/J - only bunch find it a wee bit hoity-toity! LOL!
I'm reading what's here and have made a direct reply to those above who thought the rein back was not English or standard international terminology. Such as yourself it seems. I'm sorry to insist but it is correct. You are mistaken to think the rein back is not used in eventing, hunter classes and show jumping, all of it, I can assure you it is! It is the correct terminology not just in dressage. I have no idea what they do in Western - I'll take your word for it since that is obviously where you have gained your experience - I find your 'hoity toity' comment somewhat ignorant and parochial.
PS. It may come as a shock to you to learn that what you call "saddle seat English riding" is no more English than an English muffin! ;-) GavinCorder (talk) 14:50, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

Gavin, you completely misunderstand me. I DO agree it is standard technical terminology within the international Sport Horse disciplines, particularly dressage. But it is a term of art. The conversation above began over someone, not me, who claimed the term "rein back" was used in WESTERN riding and NOT in English, when in fact, the opposite is true (you and I agree there) And the whole thing arose over the question of whether backing up is a "gait." What I am trying to explain is the term "rein back" is discipline-specific, a horse might back up when it is loose, but it does not "rein back" as here are no reins involved! "Rein back" does not refer to the footfall pattern of backing. It refers to the specific act of horse backing up under the control of a rider in the saddle. Further, outside the sport horse/international disciplines, the term "rein back" is less common, and the simple term "back" is used in its place. Does this clarify my position to you now?? Montanabw(talk) 05:19, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

And PS back atcha, Saddle Seat riding is in fact an "English" discipline, broadly speaking (At least to the same degree as Americans speak "English" at least! LOL!). The USEF rules (Rule EQ-116, to be precise) define the saddle used for the discipline as "Flat English-type. Forward seat, Western and side saddles are prohibited." Now it is definitely NOT one of the sport horse disciplines, obviously, but English in its roots nonetheless. It developed primarily in the United States for use on Saddlebreds and gaited horses, but the saddle is unquestionably derived from "English" styles from tree to stirrups to girthing system, and in fact if you go back 100 years to the older English "show" saddles that placed riders back in the saddle (as opposed to the modern "forward seat") and compare them to the early Saddle Seat designs prior to the modern "Lane Fox" cutback, they were virtually identical. I will agree that you sure as heck can't jump in one, but it IS within the broadest reaches of English disciplines -- the rider posts the trot, uses a double bridle, carries the reins in both hands, etc. Technically, one could even legally ride saddle seat in an older-style dressage saddle, and some people used to, though one does not see this at all today. Montanabw(talk) 05:19, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

Oh, and PPS: As for "parochial," remember that one of our top dressage riders, Debbie McDonald, hails from Idaho, I can drive to the Sun Valley area in a day. But there is regional use: When most American riders outside of the US east coast speak the word "rein back" out loud (as opposed to writing, where it is technical terminology), they are in fact viewed as a wee bit pretentious. (The competitive dressage world does put on airs: there is a term, "Dressage Queen" or "DQ" that describes some of the divas that inhabit it.) Montanabw(talk) 05:19, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

Using an English saddle on an American breed of horse in an American sport in America, doesn't make it English! Saddle seat riding really has no presence in this country, no heritage and no tradition. It's as American as a McMuffin. It's NOT an English discipline. You must understand you are are making assumptions based on your own country's tradition because YOU guys have labelled it English! Which is as daft as holding a competition called the World Series that the world doesn't enter. Oh woops sorry you've got one of those! ;-) —Preceding unsigned comment added by GavinCorder (talkcontribs) 19:15, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
I'll grant you a valid point on that one, in that Amercans do group all styles of riding based on saddles with an English-type tree "English" riding, (distinguishing the styles as "hunt seat" Saddle Seat" and "Dressage" -- all in contrast to Western riding, which is actually derived from 15th and 16th century Spanish traditions, but I digress...) but then I don't really suppose you in England call "English" riding "English riding", eh? (grin) And I doubt it's called "English riding" in, say Germany...! It's a question of dialect, I suppose, just like how you insist on calling a halter a "headcollar" when there is no collar involved! (LOL and noogies). As I often point out, I think it was Mark Twain did say the Brits and the Yanks were a people separated by a common language! Montanabw(talk) 00:13, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Tripling[edit]

The Lesotho horses are trained and raced using a gait called "tripling". Guess that it is a form of ambling. See: http://away.com/tripideas/lesotho-horseback-riding-300456.html Cgoodwin (talk) 03:00, 15 December 2008 (UTC) and also The State of the Basotho Pony in Lesotho

Yeah, probably. They have "largo races" with Paso Finos in Colombia. Without seeing an example, I hesitate to say much more or do anything about it in the ambling article until we have some clue of what it actually looks like. Montanabw(talk) 05:53, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

"Ambling gaits"[edit]

I found the descriptions of the different "ambling gaits" to be rather confusing. What exactly is the difference between a rack and a running walk? I rode a few of both walking horses and saddlebreds when I was young, but not enough to make a real comparison. Of the horses I rode, the saddlebreds seemed to come up higher in the front end when they were "gaiting" at a fast speed, but that could have been attributable to individual action, and not gait differences between the breeds. I also find the phrase "speed of a pace" confusing. Just about any standardbred can pace a mile in under two minutes and I think the record (which has probably been broken, since I worked with them) was 1:53 or something. But, just like a horse can trot in place, I would think it's possible for a horse to pace in place, which would make his speed 0 MPH. So I'm not sure what actual speed "speed of pace" would be referring to. I think that most people who look up this section want to find out the actual DIFFERENCES between the different breeds' gaits. (I know I did.) Are there differences (besides lateral and diagonal)? Or are they basically the same gaits with different names? This section does not make that very clear. Could someone familiar with this subject please clarify? Equusma (talk) 22:09, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

See ambling for more detail. My answer is "that's the hilarious part", there is virtually NO difference other than lateral and diagonal footfalls, style and speed! So you are correct to say "basically the same gaits with different names." But tell that to the different breed associations, who insist that THEIR breed has a TOTALLY UNIQUE way of going that is WAY BETTER and SMOOTHER than any other breed of horse alive? Horrors! (big grin) And yes, there are basically two forms of an ambling gait: the lateral gaits, derived from a pace (or maybe sped up from the walk, take it whichever way you want to), broken into four beats, basically becoming a lateral gait (right front and hind move, then left front and hind move, or vice-versa) like the running walk/rack/tolt/stepping pace/paso largo/paso fino/etc (depending on speed and style), and the trot broken into four beats, basically the fox trot/trocha/etc. (right front and left hind move then left front and right hind, or vice-versa). The only other real difference is if the desired form is a cadenced 1-2-3-4 pattern (Sounds like "ta-ta-ta-ta"), or a slightly broken 1-2, 3-4 pattern. (sounds like ta-TA, ta-TA) See ambling for more details. I'll agree that a little rephrasing in this article might clarify things, horse people have a bad habit of saying "pace" to mean either speed in general, a gait in general, or the pacing gait itself. My own experience with riding gaited horses is with a few Tennessee Walkers, Fox Trotters and Paso Finos. Not a ton. My amusing tale is that I once discovered an Arabian mare I once owned was gaited, totally by accident; when she got into her 20s, I took her for a short trail ride on the 4th of July when the neighbors were starting to set off fireworks early. Not wanting her to bolt, I just decided not try to keep her soft on the bit but to simply hold her back from trotting. With her head carried high and her back hollow like an action horse is shown (which she wasn't and which I normally never allowed) I suddenly realized that she was still doing a 1-2-3-4 footfall, but she was smooth as silk while fenceposts were totally whipping by! I laughed and realized that she was doing a rack. But she is a descendant of Raseyn who had been trained to do five gaits, so I should not have been surprised. Montanabw(talk) 23:14, 29 June 2012 (UTC)