Horse movement basics: the gaits


Any horseman who is just learning to ride a horse or master horse breeding is bound to encounter such a concept as a gait. More simply, this term means the way a horse runs. Which distinguish the gaits and what are their features, find out with us.

The basics of gait

If you sit in the saddle and try to move forward, you will immediately feel how many moves the horse goes under you. The animal has four legs and they all make their movement and their tact. In a word, it is called gait. Each of its types gives its own sense of speed and movement, and also requires certain actions from the rider. The rider should not just control the horse, but adapt to its movements, maintain balance, and maintain a proper fit.

In order for the animal and the rider to merge into one, while riding, of course, you need to know all the gaits. This word literally means from French - a way to travel. So, today there are three main or natural gaits (step, lynx, gallop) and artificial, which are developed in horses during training (Spanish step, piaffe, pirouette, etc.). Among them there is also an intermediate gait - an amble, which can be both congenital and acquired. Read more about it in the article "Pacer - an unusual pace for lovers of playfulness."

Step - the king of the gait

Why is this type of horse movement called the king of the gaits, because he does not load the muscles and no adrenaline? The fact is that the step is the basis of the basics, horse riding begins with it. It is the most leisurely and does not imply a hang phase. The average speed of the walking horse is no more than 8 km / h. However, it is on the step that you can see all the driving mistakes and start training.

A pitch is a four stroke gait. That is, the horse takes turns moving its legs. If you listen to the sound of the movement, you can hear four separate hooves. But if we consider such a thing as a tempo, then at a step it can be different. It all depends on how the animal moves.

There are three types of steps: short or collected, medium and wide or added. The difference between them is clearly visible, especially if you look at the hooves. With a short step traces of the rear hoofs remain from the front at a sufficient distance. With an average - fall on the traces of the front. With the added - step forward traces.

However, on a different kind of step, the horse itself looks different. With her usual movement, her head was slightly lowered, her neck was stretched, her back and muscles were relaxed, her head swayed smoothly. With the assembled horse, he raises his legs higher, rounds his neck, "gathers" in the lower back. With the addition, the animal also raises its head, makes sweeping movements with its legs, pulls the lower back. Free step start and end any workout.

Important! Riding horse abilities are graded at step. So, the most flexible and flexible is the horse, which stands with its hind hooves behind the tracks from the front ones by approximately one hoof.


Lynx is the next most paced gait after a step. Strangely enough, but many beginners call it the most difficult for riding. This is due to the fact that with this movement the racehorse is already in the zone of suspension. Therefore, the rider well feels the tremors of hoofs on the ground. In order to comfortably ride a trot, you need to move in the saddle to the beat of the mount.

The lynx is a push-pull gait, in which the legs are alternately rearranged in pairs diagonally. If you listen, you can hear only two hooves. At the same time, the hind leg and the front leg move diagonally, then the suspension phase goes on and then again two legs. In order to get to the beat of the knight’s movement, you need to push yourself over the saddle on one push and drop when the next pair of legs push. That is, hang over the saddle during the suspension of the horse itself.

Lynx also has several species: collected, medium, added and working. In principle, all these species are identical in their description and type of step. You can also often come across concepts such as training trot and lite. But they concern not the movements of the animal, but the landing of the rider. At the training trot, the rider sits as tightly as possible in the saddle, and on the lightweight he stands up at the moment of suspension.

Important! At the racetrack, a slow trot is called a trot, a fast trot is called a swing. Also distinguish the move and prize trot.


Of course, with the word horse gallop, many immediately have associations of speed, running, flight, wind in their ears. However, it is this gait so beginners fear. Although with proper landing, it is considered easier than a lynx. To successfully sit in the saddle during a quick run, you need to know the basics of a gallop.

So, this is a fast three-stroke gait, when the horse moves as follows: first one back leg is taken out, then the second back leg and with it the parallel front leg. At the end, the second foreleg is placed and the suspension phase follows. If you listen to the sound, then with such a movement we will hear three beats of the hoofs. If you look at the horse from the side, it may seem that it moves from the front foot. But in fact, it is made the last in the third measure.

For speed and seizure of space emit:

  • Manege Gallop (up to 300 m / min);
  • collected (not leisurely - more than 200 m / min);
  • average (400-700 m / min);
  • added or span (800 m / min);
  • open pit (very fast - 1000 m / min or more).

What is the fastest gait?

Horse gallop is an inspiring and exciting activity. Especially if it is the fastest gait. It is called a quarry and is also three-stroke, but very frisky. It is important for the rider to observe the correct fit and balance in order to stay in the saddle. Also often with this movement you can lose contact with the horse and its control.

Moving a career, the horse as much as possible pulls out a body, the neck is extended, and legs are thrown out on all length. Typically, such a gait is driven with shortened stirrups, so that the rider can easily get up above the saddle. This landing is taken by jockeys at the races.




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