Most horses have four gaits. The walk,
trot, canter, and gallop. However, there are several other types
of gaits. The walk is a four beat gait, when the horse puts one
foot in front of the other, stepping with its hind feet into the
tracks made by the forefeet. The trot is a rough, two beat gait.
In English riding, the rider 'posts' or moves up and down to the
beat of the trot, and in Western, the riders 'sits' the trot. Canter
is a three beat gait that is often called the rocking horse gait.
It is called this because the horse rocks back and forth from its
front legs to its back legs. Gallop is a fast, four beat gait that
has a 'moment of suspension' which is when the horse is in the air
with no part of it touching the ground.
Horses have many different gaits, and
some of them have even been made up by trainers. Symmetrical gaits
include these. A horse walks by swinging its legs in the order of
left front, right rear, right front, and left rear. A horse paces
by moving its legs in the order of the left and then the right legs
nearly in unison, and trots by swinging the diagonally opposite
legs nearly in unison. Some of the made-up gaits include the stepping
pace, the fast rack, and several others. Asymmetrical gaits include
the canter and the faster gallop, in which the left and then the
right hind leg touches the ground, followed by the left and then
the right front leg; the sequence may be reversed right to left,
introducing the counter canter.
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