DEFINITIONS OF GAIT TERMS
Trotting – moving the diagonal legs together at the same time.
Soft trotting – the diagonal legs move together but in broken timing and can appear gaited.
Fox trotting – a gait where the front legs are walking and the rear legs appear to trot which causes the rider to shuffle in the saddle and causes the horse’s croup and tail to bobb up and down with each step of the rear legs.
Too trotty – heading toward the fox trot gait or a steppy, up and down motion in the rear legs vs a correct, sweeping motion.
Too square - when used in reference to a Walking Horse this term usually means that the horse is short strided, especially in the hind legs, and may appear to be headed toward the fox trot gait. It can also be used to describe a horse that is strung out or trailing out behind the proper stride of its motion.
Lack of impulsion – Horse is not driving his weight forward with his rear legs. The horse’s pelvis has not dropped or rotated down, therefore the horse’s rear end is not “engaged.”
Animation – Using balance, collection and power to round the horse’s spine from the poll to the dock of the tail which compresses the horse into collection. The result is a lifting of the foreleg, reaching of the shoulder and increased hip rotation producing a longer stride. This movement should be relaxed and taught to the horse over time not forced and stiff. Animation is different than “brilliance.”
Loose – Elastic. The body of the horse should undulate with the movement caused by the stride and reach found in the Walking Horse gait. A rolling wave of motion started with the powerful thrusting stride, then traveling through the horse’s body to be launched out of a rolling shoulder and foreleg producing reach in the front end.
Swingy – Long strided. When used to describe an uncollected horse it often refers to a horse that is headed into a pacey gait. The horse can still have somewhat of a head shake which causes some observers to believe the horse is actually correct, when in fact, it is not.
Pace – Stepping forward with both legs on the same side at the same time. Often called laterally gaited. Occasionally, the pacing horse can still have a head shake, although usually not nearly as good as a correctly moving Walking Horse.
Step pace – Broken Pace. This is a gait that has four beats but the timing is not equal between each legs movement. Instead, the “pick up” the front and hind legs on the same side of the body is simultaneous, however, the “set down” is not, causing a broken timing like this: 1, 2 – 3,4 vs the correct: 1,2,3,4.
Strung out – lack of collection often leaving the rear legs trailing out behind the motion of the horse’s hip. The horse will appear heavy on the forehand.
Racky – A perfectly smooth gait that may lack stride and reach. The horse will tend to lift his legs up under his body at slower speeds. The weight is placed equally on all four legs and there is very little movement seen in the head and back of the horse.
Quick footed – The legs of the horse are moving faster than the proper gait of the horse requires. As weight is transferred to the rear legs it tends to slow down the leg speed as the stride developed in this collective transfer requires more time to travel through the length of each step.
Hanging – A hesitation at the top of the knee break before the leg returns toward the ground. This is usually found in an over collected or hollow backed horse with neck bent at the withers vs the correct bend at the poll.
Hesitating – Same as hanging but may also include a broken head shake in extreme cases where the head shake has become backward shaking (shaking toward the rider usually with a ewe neck) and stiff instead of shaking with an arched neck in a downward thrust in time with his rear leg stride.
Trappy – Lack of reach where the foreleg is not extended in front of the horse but left behind the knee. This is usually caused by a lack of power and shoulder extension.
Bold – Powerful stride causing reach in the shoulder through a relaxed collected back.
Brilliance – A result of balance and collection giving the horse a refined, proud, showy look.
Long – plentiful stride and reach without animation yet still showing medium collection.
Over collected – Compressed; head behind the vertical, trappy front legs and cramped or short rear leg stride are produced by over collecting the horse’s head and jamming his back.
Incorrectly bent – Bent with head and/or hip facing inward/outward while traveling a curve or line in the opposite direction.
Winging – Flipping the hoof as it breaks from the ground out to the side instead of traveling straight forward during the front leg stride.
Paddling – As the front hoof breaks from the ground it comes in toward the opposite leg and then travels wide to finish the stride more open that it began, almost like a swimmer’s arm stroke.
Cross over or rope walking – Front legs cross over one another to leave hoof prints in a line.
Heavy on forehand – Carrying excessive weight on the front legs and may appear to travel down hill with the rear legs trailing out failing to keep up.
Rear high – A physical condition in which the hip is higher than the withers but may be used to describe an uncollected hip.
Ewe neck – Neck vertebrae not in the proper rounded arch but jammed backward with the head in an elevated position (star gazing.) The ewe neck is often accentuated by heavy muscling on the underside of the neck.
Hocky – Excessive bending of the hocks causing a lifting of the leg into a stepping motion. An up and down piston-like action.
Stride – The distance of leg spread between the rear legs in full stride.
Overstride – The distance between the rear hoof print surpacing the front hoof print on the same side.
Capping or Tracking – The rear foot steps into the hoofprint of the front foot on the same side.
Hollowed out – Back is dropped into concave arch. Head generally lifted, no bend at the poll, typically short strides.