December 08, 2008 | | Comments 0

Gaited Horses

Gaited Horses and What Makes Them Unique

Gaited horses are breeds that have the innate penchant to gait, which means the capacity to execute one of the intermediary speed four beat horse gaits, known as ambling gaits. Breeds of gaited horses include the American Saddlebred, Paso Fino, Icelandic horse, Missouri Foxtrotter, Mangalarga Marchador, Racking horse, Peruvian Paso, Spotted Saddle horse, Rocky Mountain Horse, Walkaloosa and Tennessee Walker.

Nearly all breeds that are “gaited” happen to have an ambling gait as a genetic trait. Although, one should realize that in rare cases a supposedly gaited breed may not necessarily gait. Several horses can both trot and amble, and other instinctively trotting horses may have ambling capabilities, especially with specific methods of training. Some horses pace besides amble, rather than trotting. But pacing in gaited horses is usually not preferred. Some horses do not have the natural ability to trot or pace without difficulty, and they favor their ambling for their conventional intermediate speed.

The Four Major Gaits

There are four major gaits, and these comprise of the walk, trot, canter and gallop. The type of gait depends on how many beats there are in each gait. For instance, the walk involves a four beat gait, where each of the horse’s foot touches the ground one at a time. On the other hand, the trot involves a two beat gait, where diagonal feet touch the ground simultaneously. There are horses that can conduct one or more other gaits instinctively on their own. Many of these gaits are esteemed since they provide the rider with an exceptionally smooth travel. This is one reason why many gaited horses are still being used as modes of transportation in the modern world. Competitions are held to assess which gaited horse performs the smoothest.

Gaited Horse - Peruvian Paso

Gaited Horse - Peruvian Paso

Breeds of Gaited Horses

The Peruvian Paso is a popular breed of gaited horses. This breed is outstandingly smooth and has great stamina. It isn’t a large horse nor is it skittish, thus making it a fitting mount for anyone. Another popular breed is the Icelandic horse. This horse often excels in the “tolt”, which is similar to the foot series of the walk, except that it is more emphasized and amazingly smooth. Standardbreds, which are those usually found in racetracks dragging the carts, do extremely well performing the “pace”, which is similar to the trot except that it is the set of legs on the same side that hits the ground simultaneously. A rare breed from Brazil is the Mangalarga Marchador, which is a breed of gaited horses that excel in a strange four beat gate called the “Marcha,” where three feet hit the ground for just a split second at a time. The Andalusian, another breed of gaited horses, can be trained unconventional methods of traveling like the Spanish Walk, where certain natural gaits may be exaggerated.

Gaited horses are generally more efficient since no energy is wasted combating gravity and free fall. Also, the smooth travel is a benefit for the rider. However, these skills don’t always come naturally. In fact, what makes a good gaited horse is through good breeding as well as training. Consistency is key to training your gaited horse well.

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