Horse Gaits

Horse Gaits

The words “horse gaits” describes the four main ways horses move around; the walk, the trot, the canter and the gallop – These are called horse gaits.
Advanced Dressage riders can get their horses to do more technical versions of these horse gaits, but that’s another story!
This is a bit about each of these basic horse gaits:

horse gaitsThe Walk – This is the slowest and most relaxed of all of the gaits. I personally find the walk quite boring.
I’m often tempted to start trotting or cantering the horse I’m riding (Which I never do!) while I’m warming it up instead warming it up properly.

Now, take note, you must never do this: If a horse is not warmed up for ten minutes at a walk and then ten minutes at a trot
it can seriously injure itself which you do not want to happen! The walk has four beats meaning that the horse moves each of its four
legs once one at a time. The walk is a calm and steady gait; it is the first gait all beginner riders must master before taking on the more lively
– and bouncy – trot.

The Trot – This is the third fastest – and most natural – of all the gaits. The trot is a high stepping, bouncy and lively gait,
making it quite hard to learn to ride properly. I find the trot to also be the most uncomfortable gait for the rider! All that bouncing
and flouncing around makes it hard to stay on – Especially if you’re riding bareback.
There are only two beats in the trot – The least of all a horse’s gaits. In the trot, a horse moves both legs on one side of its body at
the same time and then both legs on the other side of its body at the same time – Moving the legs together or apart in a scissor-like motion.

The Canter – The canter is the smoothest, most flowing and second fastest gait. I love watching horses canter –
They look so graceful and riding a cantering horse is even better! When you sit astride a cantering horse you feel like you’re an
eagle, gliding on the air. Sure, a canter is not as thrilling or fast as a gallop but it is certainly the most graceful and free-moving gait of them all!
There are three beats in the canter, the legs all move in a kind of rocking horse motion which makes it so smooth and comfortable.

The Gallop – To me there is nothing more fun and exhilarating then a flat-out, ground-blurring gallop down a flat piece of land on a crisp,
windless morning. Taking your horse for a gallop can be hugely enjoyable – If you know that you can stay on and if
you know that your horse will stop!
The gallop is the fastest of all the gaits, and the most amazing. There are four beats in the gallop, meaning the horse moves each of its
legs individually with unbelievable power and speed. A Thoroughbred racehorse when galloping flat-out can reach speeds of over
70 kmph! That is very, very fast!

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