Soft 4 Beat Gaits
Walk is a four-beat
lateral gait, similar to the ordinary walk, but smoother, with more
speed and reach to the step. The hooves lift and set down at distinct,
even intervals. The beat is an even 1-2-3-4 set down in an even
cadence. The rear end movement should be smooth and close to the ground
without any snap. Each stride should reach forward and slide in as it
is set down, over striding the track of the front foot. In a true flat
foot walk at least one front foot is touching the ground at all times.
The Running Walk is a
four-beat lateral gait during which each foot is picked up and set down
in an even cadence. The rear end movement should be smooth and close to
the ground without any snap. Each stride should reach forward and slide
in as it is set down, over striding the track of the front foot.
Suspension occurs only with the front feet, not the hind, which is why
the gait is often described as "trotting with the front feet and
walking with the hind".
Foxtrot is a broken
diagonal gait with a distinctive rhythm that is created by a horse
moving its front foot a split second before its opposite rear foot. The
diagonal pairs of hooves lift off and move forward together, as in the
trot, but the front foot hits the ground slightly before the hind. The
gait is described as "walking with the front feet and trotting with the
Pace is an even,
lateral 2 beat gait. The lateral hooves lift off and set down at the
same time. In a pace the front and rear foot are picked up and then set
down simultaneously making only one beat. A pacing horse will move its
head side to side to counter the motion of its feet.
Stepping Pace is a
broken lateral gait with the hind foot stepping down just before the
front foot of the same side strikes the ground. The horse always has
either one or two feet on the ground. Suspension occurs first with the
hind legs, as they change places, then with the front legs.
Rack is performed at
both the slow rack, and the fast rack. In both the rear of the horse
provides the most of the forward motion and support while the front end
does little pulling. Both have an even four beat cadence without any
head shake. In the slow rack the feet are picked up one foot at a time
with the front end moving up and down with little forward extension. In
the fast rack the gait is performed at great speed with only one foot
on the ground at any one time.
Single Foot is an
intermediate four-beat gait, very near to even in timing. It can be
performed at a range of speeds from a relaxed trail speed of 7 to 9
mph, to a ground-eating road gait of 10 to 15 mph, to the racing
single-foot of over 20 mph. At the fastest speeds the horse travels
with one foot on the ground at a time. Some horses will start
single-footing at a road gait speed and others at the racing speed.
Slow Saddle Gait is a
four-beat, broken lateral gait. The footfalls for the slow gait are the
same as the walk. Each foot rises from the ground and hesitates in the
air. The slow gait is restrained, executed with extreme collection and
with impulsion from the hind-quarters. The hind legs are placed well
underneath the horse and the forehand is elevated.
Tolt is a four-beat
lateral gait in which there is always at least one foot on the gound.
All four feet move in the same pattern as in the walk, with higher
action and more speed. As there is no moment of suspension this gait is
very smooth and comfortable for the rider.