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  Learn about Rocky Mountain Horse gaits

With over 20 years of researching and training a variety of gaited horses, our goal is to help educate people about mountain horse gaits. Whether you already own a mountain horse and want to understand what gait it is performing or are considering purchasing a mountain horse, this information will help you get started in the right direction.

We created the following chart to help show the foot fall pattern, timing, and what to look for. We have distributed this information at breed demonstrations, equine expo's, and shows. For further information, please contact us to arrange for training, lessons, consulting, or a thorough evaluation.


Tiajuana Sunrise - click for bigger image
The rocky mountain horse should perform a stepping pace/amble or a rack/single-foot gait. Learning the timing of these gaits is critical in order to identify them correctly. *The pace is one of the most common gaits seen even though it is incorrect. See the animated video of the pace below.

Gait Scale
Pace

This is a pace in slow motion
Pace
(click image for larger picture)

This is a 2 beat lateral gait. Watch the front and back legs from one side of the horse move in unison together. You will hear only two hoof beats and the horse will sway slightly left to right. ( 1,2 )

Stepping Pace

Stepping Pace/Amble (click image for larger picture)
"Acceptable Gait"

This is an uneven 4 beat lateral gait. Watch the front and back legs on one side of the horse. The front foot will land slightly after the hind foot . You will hear four hoof beats, but each lateral pair will be very close together. The horse will have little to no sway. ( 1,2....3,4 )

Single-foot/Rack

Single-foot/Rack (click image for larger picture)
"Ideal Gait"

This is an even 4 beat square gait. Watch the front and back legs on one side of the horse. The front foot will land after the hind with equal timing between each foot-fall. You will hear four evenly timed hoof beats. The horse will have little to no sway. ( 1,2,3,4 )

Picture coming soon...

Foxtrot

This is an uneven 4 beat diagonal gait. Watch the front and back diagonal pair of legs. The right front will land slightly before the left hind, then the left front lands just before the right hind. You will hear four hoof beats, but each diagonal pair will be very close together. ( 1...2,3...4 )

Trot

Trot(click image for larger picture)

This is a 2 beat diagonal gait. Watch the front and back legs from the opposite sides of the horse move in unison together. You will hear only two hoof beats and the horse will move up and down instead of left to right. ( 1,2 )


Factors that can affect the gait are: improper hoof angles, a saddle that doesn't fit correctly, horse being out of shape, rider is throwing horse off balance or giving improper aids, and uneducated breeding (breeding pacey to pacey, etc.). Also when a horse is pushed for speed, you will see if they have a tendency to move towards the pace or trot, depending on where their gait falls on the gait scale. You can help improve the gait with proper conditioning, proper riding skills and tack, and using a gaited horse farrier.

 

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