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Tuesday
Mar022010

walk v. trot v. canter v. gallop

Horses move their legs in different patterns, called gaits, depending on their speed. From slowest to fastest, they are:

Walk

A 4 beat pattern, averaging 6 km/h, in which the legs move forward one at a time, with the other three remaining on the ground. The sequence is:

1. right hind
2. right front
3. left hind
4. left front

 

Trot

A 2 beat pattern for speeds around 13 km/h. Legs move in alternating diagonal pairs.

1. right hind and left front
2. left hind and right front

 

 

Canter

At moderate speeds, between 16 and 27 km/h, horses take on a 3 beat pattern called a canter. There are 2 symmetrical canter patterns.

Left lead
1. right hind
2. left hind and right front
3. left front

 

 
Right lead
1. left hind
2. right hind and left front
3. right front

 

Gallop

The fastest gait, at 40 to 48 km/h is the gallop, which follows a 4 beat pattern. In a gallop, the canter’s 2nd beat becomes 2 very closely spaced beats as the hind foot hits the ground just before the diagonal front foot.

Left lead
1. right hind
2. left hind
3. right front
4. left front 

 

Right lead
1. left hind
2. right hind
3. left front
4. right front
 

Equusite.com on horse gaits

Wikipedia on horse gaits

All images courtesy of Equusite.com.

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