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Uncovering the Extraordinary World of Gaited Horses

Introduction to Gaited Horses

Gaited horses have a unique ability to perform a variety of additional gaits besides the usual trot, walk, and canter. They have been selectively bred to possess this skill, making them ideal for many different activities ranging from trail riding to harness racing.

In this article, we’ll explore what makes gaited horses unique and the different breeds that have been developed over time.

Additional Gaits of Gaited Horses

When we think of traditional horse gaits, we usually picture the trot, walk, and canter. However, gaited horses possess a range of additional gaits that are unique to their breed.

Here are some examples:

Foxtrot: This gait is a four-beat movement where the horse’s front foot moves slightly before the diagonal hind foot. It produces a smooth, gliding motion for the rider.

Flat Footed Walk: As the name suggests, this gait results in a flat-footed walk for the horse, producing little to no movement in the head and neck area. It’s a smooth and comfortable gait for riders.

Pace: The pace is a two-beat movement where the animal moves its legs laterally in pairs, meaning that the left and right legs on each side move simultaneously. This gait is often seen in Standardbred horses and is common in harness racing.

Tlt: The Tolt is an Icelandic gait that is four-beat and similar to the running walk in Tennessee Walking Horses. The tolt is unique to Icelandics and is famous for its smoothness.

Slow Gait: The slow gait is a four-beat walking gait that is slower than the flat-footed walk. It offers a comfortable ride for riders who enjoy taking their time.

Rack: The rack is a four-beat gait in which the horse moves from one foot to the next, creating a “clicking” sound. It’s a unique gait that delivers a smooth, effortless ride for riders.

Paso Fino: The Paso Fino is a Puerto Rican breed of horse that is renowned for its unique gait. The Paso Fino glides through the air, delivering an almost “dancing” motion that is extraordinary to watch.

Corto: This is a three-beat gait that’s unique to the Paso Fino breed, producing a moderately fast gait that is both smooth and comfortable for riders. Largo: Largo is another Paso Fino gait, but it’s a four-beat gait that’s much faster than Corto.

It delivers an impressive trot for riders who enjoy speed.

Non-Gaited Horses

While gaited horses are unique in their ability to perform additional gaits, non-gaited horses perform traditional walking, trotting, and cantering gaits. For example:

Trotting horses: These horses are well known for their diagonal two-beat gait, which produces a bouncy motion for riders.

Trotting is one of the fastest types of horse gaits. 3-gaited horses: Some breeds, such as the American Saddlebred, are bred to show at various gaits, including the trot, canter, and walk.

These horses are perfect for showing and dressage.

Gaited Horse Breeds

Now let’s look at the different breeds of gaited horses and their unique characteristics. Morgan: The Morgan is an American breed that is recognized for its versatility and strength.

It’s a medium-sized horse that is perfect for therapeutic riding and is capable of performing the rack, fox trot, and pace. Standardbred: The Standardbred is a rugged breed that is best known for its ability to race at a harness track.

Standardbreds can pace and trot, which is why they are often used for racing. Missouri Fox Trotter: The Missouri Fox Trotter is a breed known for its easy gait and is often used as a trail horse or pleasure riding horse.

It’s ideal for riders who prefer the flat-footed walk, canter, and trot. Icelandic Horse: The Icelandic horse is small and sturdy and is famous for its smooth gaits, including the Tlt and flying pace.

American Saddlebred: This breed is a spectacular show horse that is popular for its three-gaited and five-gaited events. They are known to have high-set tails and long, graceful necks and are often referred to as “noodle-breds” because of their unique conformation.

Tennessee Walking Horse: Tennessee Walkers are well-known for their upright conformation and prideful spirit. They’re capable of performing the flat-footed walk, running walk, canter, and walk.

Paso Fino: The Paso Fino is a South American breed that is known for its stout build and unique gait. They can perform the Paso Fino, Corto, and Largo at varying speeds.


Gaited horses are an extraordinary breed that offers a unique riding experience. They have been selectively bred to perform additional gaits, making them perfect for specific activities such as harness racing, trail riding, and therapeutic riding.

Each breed has its unique characteristics, making it ideal for a particular purpose. It’s worth experiencing these astonishing animals and their ability to perform their unusual gaits.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Riding Gaited Horses

Gaited horses offer additional benefits to traditional horses, making them popular among riders. They are renowned for their smooth gaits, fast-moving ability, and versatility in different activities.

However, there are also drawbacks that potential riders should consider before deciding to invest in a gaited horse.

Advantages of Gaited Horses

One of the significant benefits of riding a gaited horse is its smooth gaits. Unlike traditional horses, gaited horses can perform additional gait movements that are comfortable and smooth for riders.

These gaits provide an easy-to-ride experience, making them perfect for trail riders and riders who have back and joint issues. Additionally, gaited horses are fast-moving and quick, making them ideal for racing events.

They have unique and impressive gaits that provide an exhilarating experience for riders in various events. Lastly, gaited horses are versatile horses.

They can perform various tasks and activities, ranging from trail riding, dressage, and therapeutic riding. This versatility makes them a popular horse breed for riders who need a horse with multiple capabilities.

Drawbacks of Gaited Horses

One of the significant drawbacks of gaited horses is that it’s challenging to find trainers who specialize in gaited horse riding. Unlike traditional horses that have a vast number of trainers and riding schools, gaited horses require trainers with specialized knowledge and experience in working with them.

It can be especially challenging for new riders to find experts in gaited horses, making it challenging to train and ride gaited horses effectively. Another potential drawback of gaited horses is that certain events may be limited to them.

For example, dressage events have specific rules and requirements that traditional horses can more easily adapt to than gaited horses. This limitation can make it challenging for riders who wish to compete in these events using a gaited horse.

Lastly, gaited horses have the potential for lameness issues. Due to their unique gaits that put more stress on their legs and joints, gaited horses are more prone to lameness issues than traditional horses.

Therefore, it’s crucial that gaited horse owners take care to maintain their horse’s health and ensure they receive proper rest and care.

Frequently Asked Questions about Gaited Horses

How to Ride a Gaited Horse

Riding a gaited horse can be similar to riding a traditional horse or different, depending on the gait being performed. Typically, riders will need to work with an experienced gaited horse trainer to learn how to ride gaited horses effectively.

These trainers will guide riders on how to perform specific gaits and the unique cues that each horse responds to. Are Friesian Horses Gaited?

Friesian horses are not naturally gaited. However, they do have a high-stepping front leg action that can look like a smooth gait, yet it’s not considered a true gait.

Are Quarter Horses Gaited? Quarter horses are not naturally gaited.

However, some Quarter Horses can display smooth gait movements. This is typically attributable to training rather than a natural ability.

Are Appaloosa Horses Gaited? Appaloosa horses are not gaited.

They are known for their unique spotted coat patterns, but not for their ability to perform additional gaits. Large

Gaited Horse Breeds

Three popular large gaited horse breeds are the American Saddlebred, Standardbred, and Tennessee Walking Horse.

The American Saddlebred is a popular show horse that is skilled in performing three-gaited and five-gaited movements. They are renowned for their high-set tails and long, graceful necks and are often referred to as “noodle-breds” due to their unique conformation.

The Standardbred is well known for its ability to race at a harness track. They are a rugged breed that can pace and trot, which is why they are often used for racing.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is recognized for its upright conformation and proud spirit. They can perform the flat-footed walk, running walk, canter, and walk.

They are considered a more relaxed gaited breed, making them popular for trail riding and pleasure riding.


In conclusion, gaited horses have unique benefits and advantages that make them a popular breed for riders who want a comfortable and versatile riding experience. Despite the potential challenges with finding specialized trainers and limitations in certain events, the benefits of riding a gaited horse outweigh the drawbacks, making it a smart choice for riders looking for something different.

With a range of breeds to choose from, riders can select the gaited horse that is best suited for their specific needs and riding goals. This article discussed the world of gaited horses, which are known for their unique abilities to perform smooth additional gaits beyond the traditional trot, walk, and canter.

We explored the benefits and drawbacks of riding gaited horses, such as smooth gaits, versatility, potential difficulty in finding trainers, and potential lameness issues. Furthermore, we discussed several frequently asked questions readers may have regarding gaited horses, including gaited horse breeds, how to ride them, and whether various breeds are gaited or not.

In conclusion, gaited horses are an excellent choice for riders seeking a comfortable and versatile experience.

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