An Introduction to Basic Horse Gaits

Horses are athletic animals designed for movement. Find out more about the most basic equine gaits.

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Basic Horse Gaits

Horses are athletic animals designed for movement, and most equestrians would agree that few things are more beautiful that a horse in motion. The following are examples of the most basic equine gaits.



The walk is a four-beat gait, which means each of the horse's four legs moves independently. This is a horse's slowest gait.



The trot is a two-beat gait, with the horse's legs moving in two diagonal pairs. For example, the right-front and left-hind are off the ground together, followed by the left-front and right-hind. For riders who post (move up and down with the trot), these two beats create the posting rhythm.



"Jog" is the western term for a trot. While often slower and smoother than a typical trot, the jog is still two beats. Western horses with steady, smooth jogs are prized for how easy their trots are to ride over long distances.



A horse's canter is a three-beat gait with the following foot-fall sequence: outside hind leg, inside hind leg/outside foreleg, and inside foreleg. The three beats are followed by a moment of suspension, when all four legs are off the ground.



Western riders use the term "lope" instead of "canter" for their slower version of the same gait.



A gallop is the horse’s fastest gait. The foot-fall sequence is similar to the canter, but the canter's second beat (inside hind-leg/outside foreleg) separates as the horse's stride lengthens. This makes the gallop a four-beat gait.


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