What is a Gaited Horse? (Gaited Horse Breeds & Benefits) (2022)

What is a gaited horse?

Whether you are a new equestrian or have been in the sport for a while, you have definitely heard this question asked.

In this article, I will explain what a gaited horse is and what that means, how to tell if a horse is gaited, and what the benefits of gaited horse breeds are.

So, come along with me and find out what a gaited horse is.

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Table of Contents

What Does Gaited Horse Mean?

What does it mean when a horse is gaited?Gaited horses represent any breed that can perform an extra smooth four-beat gait outside of the traditional walk, trot, canter, and gallop.

This gait is incredibly comfortable for riders to sit and helps the horse conserve energy while they are moving because they always have one foot on the ground.

What is a Gaited Horse? (Gaited Horse Breeds & Benefits) (1)

These smoother gaits are known as ambling gaits because it looks like the horse is gliding or shuffling. This provides a very comfortable trail gait for horse owners.

Horses usually move their legs in lateral pairs, meaning the opposite front and hind legs move together, but gaited horses move each of their legs independently which allows them to glide.

Since gaited horses can save energy, they have more stamina and can travel farther than others. They were the mounts of choice when people relied on horses to go everywhere and make wonderful trail partners.

Here is a video that explains more about gaited horses:

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Gaited Horse Breeds

Now that I’ve answered the common question, “What does a gaited horse mean?” Let’s take a look at the different gaited horse breeds.

There are currently around 20 breeds of gaited horses. These are:

(Video) What's Different About Gaited Horses? An Interview with Larry Whitesell

  • Aegidienberger Horse
  • American Saddlebred
  • Campeiro
  • Campolina
  • Florida Cracker Horse
  • Icelandic Horse
  • Kathiawari
  • Mangalarga Marchador
  • Marwari Horse
  • Messara Horse
  • Missouri Fox Trotter
  • Morgan Horse
  • Nordestino
  • North American Single Footing Horse
  • Nordestino
  • Pampa
  • Paso Fino
  • Peruvian Paso
  • Rocking Horse
  • Rocky Mountain Horse
  • Kentucky Mountain Spotted Saddle Horse
  • Tennessee Walking Horse
  • Walkaloosa

I have experienced the pleasure of riding a Morgan Horse, a Rocky Mountain Horse, and an Icelandic Horse during my riding career.

However, both the Morgan and the Icelandic had their ambling gaits trained out of them, so I was not able to experience their unique four-beat gait.

Let’s learn about some of these breeds in detail.

1. American Saddlebred Horse

The American Saddlebred is known as the Horse America Made. The breed is elegant, with high stepping gaits that make it a popular show horse. [1]

Their coats come in all colors and they range in height from 14-17 hh. Saddlebreds also weigh between 800-1200 pounds and can excel in any riding discipline.

Here is a video that displays the beauty and versatility of the breed.

2. Icelandic Horse

Icelandic horses [2] were ridden by Vikings and are one of the purest horse breeds in the world, with the first herds originating in Iceland over 1000 years ago.

To maintain the purity of the breed, no other horses are allowed to enter Iceland, and once a horse leaves it can’t come back

Icelandic horses have two extra natural gaits in addition to the walk, trot, canter, and gallop. These are the tolt and the flying pace. These are very distinct gaits from non-gaited breeds.

The tolt is a lateral four-beat smooth gait where there is no suspension between strides, and the hind legs move underneath the horse to carry most of the weight and allow the front to be free.

The flying pace is a fast two-beat lateral suspended gait. Not all Icelandic horses can make this gait, but those that can and tolt are considered the best of the breed.

Here is a video to help you learn more about Icelandic horses.

3. Marwari Horse

Marwaris [3] are a rare horse breed native to the Marwari region of India. They are slender horses characterized by their curved ears and were used as a warhorse in Inda for centuries.

They weigh anywhere from 750 to 1000 pounds, are 14-16 hands high, and come in almost every coat color. However, pure white or gray Marwaris are disqualified from breed registries.

The ambling gait of the Marwari is known as the rehwal, and it is a fast four-beat gait that allows the breed to cover ground quickly.

Here is a video to help you learn more about the Marwari horse.

(Video) Gaited Horses shouldn't look like this!

4. Morgan Horse

The Morgan Horse was one of the first breeds developed in the US. They are lightweight and compact, weighing only between 900 to 1000 pounds, and ranging between 14-15 hands tall.

Morgans are known for their elegant movement and small heads. They were bred to be used in all disciplines and come in every coat color possible for horses.

Morgans have a typical ambling gait that is fast and that enables them to have one hoof on the ground, however, only about 20% of Morgans [4] are gaited.

Here is a video to help you learn more about the Morgan horse.

5. Rocky Mountain Gaited Horse

Rocky Mountain [5] Gaited Horses have origins in the Rocky Mountains of the US and are compact versatile horses.

They can weigh anywhere from 830 to 1000 pounds and measure from 14.2 to 18 hands. Rocky Mountain Gaited Horses are known for their slender yet muscular build and gentle nature.

Rocky Mountain Horses can come in various shades of bay, chestnut, black, and palomino, and are commonly seen with a chocolate coat and flaxen mane.

They have a unique ambling gait that replaces the trot, called the single foot, that allows them to move farther with less effort.

Here is a video to help you learn more about the Rocky Mountain Gaited Horse.

6. Tennessee Walking Horse

Tennessee Walking Horses [6] are a hardy breed loved by all for their unique way of going. They measure anywhere from 14.3 to 17 hands high and weigh 900 to 1200 pounds.

These horses were first bred for farmwork, but are now popular riding horses. The Tennessee Walker comes in all colors and has a slender but well-built physique

Their unique running walk gait is a middle ground between the walk and trot and provides a comfortable and smooth ride for all.

Here is a video to help you learn more about the Tennessee Walking Horse

Now that you know more about gaited horse breeds, let’s learn more details about the ambling gaits they can perform.

Gaited Horse Gaits

Gaited horses perform unique gaits [7] that are separate from the usual walk, trot, canter, and gallop. However, this does not mean that they cannot perform these gaits, just that they have one or more extra gaits unique to the breed.

The gaits of the gaited breeds are as follows.

(Video) Natural Trimming and Hoof Care for the Gaited Horse

Running Walk

Tennessee Walking Horses perform the running walk. In this gait, the hind hooves overstep the front ones, creating a faster walk where the horse appears to be gliding across the ground.

The running walk is a four-beat diagonal gait just like the usual walk.

Slow Gait

The slow gait or stepping pace is exhibited by American Saddlebreds. This is a lateral gait where the front and hind hoof on the same side of the horse’s body are moving together.

However, the hooves land at slightly different times from each other, creating a broken pace, The right front, and hind move together, followed by the left front and hind.

Pace

The pace is a lateral two-beat gait where the hooves on the same side of the body hit the ground at the same time.

It is commonly exhibited in American Standardbreds and other harness horses. There is also a moment of suspension in between the horse moving each lateral pair.

Icelandic Horses perform a flying pace where the suspension is more evident than in normal pacing.

Running Walk

The running walk or rack is exhibited by the American Saddlebred and Tennessee Walking Horse.

This is a diagonal four-beat gait, that is essentially a faster walk, where each foot touches the ground separately.

Tolt

The tolt is exhibited by Icelandic Horses and is very similar [8] to the rack or single-foot gait, which are all lumped together in one group in discussions about gait.

It is the middle ground between a walk and trot, and there is no suspension.

How Can You Tell if a Horse is Gaited?

The main thing that distinguishes a gaited horse from the rest is its footfalls. Since gaited horses perform fast ambling gaits, they will have a shorter time in between footfalls.

Because gaited horses move faster, they can cover more distance in less time.

Gaited horses also move each leg independently of each other, so the pattern of the foot pattern will vary from a typically moving horse.

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What Are the Benefits of Gaited Horses?

Throughout this article, we have answered the question: “What is a gaited horse mean?”, but what are the benefitsof gaited horses, what can they do for their riders that no other horse can?

  • Gaited horses have great stamina and endurance, making them ideal for long-distance rides
  • They are excellent trail riding horses and a comfortable ride
  • They are good-natured and well mannered
  • People of all ages can ride them safely
  • They are well suited for riders with arthritis

Gaited horses are great companions, They make suitable mounts for anyone looking for an easygoing horse and a smooth ride.

Can a Gaited Horse Run or Gallop?

Gaited horses can perform all of the normal gaits a regular horse can, including running or galloping. The only reason they may not be able to do so is because of their age or injury.

Once horses reach a certain age, they are more prone to arthritis and leg injuries, as a result, staying in one gait for too long becomes uncomfortable.

(Video) Benefits of trotting the gaited horse on cue #gaitedhorse #gaitedhorsetraining

FAQs

What is a gaited horse in comparison to a regular horse?

Gaited horses are horses that have extra gaits that regular horses do not. Normal horses can walk, trot, canter, and gallop. A gaited horse can walk, running walk, trot, canter, gallop, for example.

Do gaited horses need special saddles?

Gaited horses do not need special saddles to be ridden. The idea that they do need gaited saddles is a marketing scheme designed to get more money from riders.

Can you teach a horse to be gaited?

A non-gaited horse can learn some of the special gaits, but this does not mean that they will learn them or be able to do so quickly.
The gaited trait is passed on in horses by the DMRT3 gene, and its presence determines if a horse will be able to gait.

Conclusion

What is a gaited horse? Gaited horses are those that have an extra two or four-beat gait in addition to the walk, trot, canter, and gallop.

There are multiple breeds of horses that are gaited and they each have unique characteristics.

What is a Gaited Horse? (Gaited Horse Breeds & Benefits) (2)

What do you think of gaited horses? Please share your opinion below!

References

  • 1. About The American Saddlebred [Internet]. www.asha.net. Available from: https://www.asha.net/aboutus/theamericansaddlebred/
  • 2. The Icelandic horse – Official site of the Icelandic Horse [Internet]. www.horsesoficeland.is. Available from: https://www.horsesoficeland.is/the-icelandic-horse
  • 3. Marwari Horse: Breed Profile [Internet]. The Spruce Pets. Available from: https://www.thesprucepets.com/marwari-horse-breed-profile-4801620
  • 4. Gaited Morgan Horses [Internet]. www.gaitedmorganhorses.com. Available from: https://www.gaitedmorganhorses.com/
  • 5. Rocky Mountain Horse: Breed Profile [Internet]. The Spruce Pets. Available from: https://www.thesprucepets.com/rocky-mountain-horse-breed-profile-4777224
  • 6. Meet the Tennessee Walking Horse [Internet]. The Spruce Pets. Available from: https://www.thesprucepets.com/meet-the-tennessee-walking-horse-1885862
  • 7. heyboerg. Natural and Artificial Gaits of the Horse [Internet]. myhorseuniversity. 2017. Available from: https://www.myhorseuniversity.com/single-post/2017/09/25/natural-and-artificial-gaits-of-the-horse#:~:text=Natural%20Gaits%20There%20are%20five
  • 8. About Gaits and Gaited Horses [Internet]. Available from: http://paintedbarstables.com/Documents/Gaits_PBS.pdf

What is a Gaited Horse? (Gaited Horse Breeds & Benefits) (3)

Bryanna Tanase

Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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(Video) Gaited Horse Training - Answers to Training Questions & Gaited Breed Tips

FAQs

What is a Gaited Horse? (Gaited Horse Breeds & Benefits)? ›

Gaited horses represent any breed that can perform an extra smooth four-beat gait outside of the traditional walk, trot, canter, and gallop. This gait is incredibly comfortable for riders to sit and helps the horse conserve energy while they are moving because they always have one foot on the ground.

What is a gaited horse good for? ›

A gaited horse is a horse that moves each leg independently. Doing so allows one foot to constantly be on the ground, allowing the horse to conserve more energy than they would while trotting. Gaited horses are used for traveling as they have greater stamina and endurance.

Is it good for a horse to be gaited? ›

In the horse world, gaited breeds are a rare but welcome prospect. Of the roughly 350 horse breeds, only around 30 are naturally gaited. Gaited horses have a smoother, easier ride and are often favored by people who have back or joint issues.

What does it mean if your horse is gaited? ›

Gaited horses are horse breeds that have selective breeding for natural gaited tendencies, that is, the ability to perform one of the smooth-to-ride, intermediate speed, four-beat horse gaits, collectively referred to as ambling gaits.

What's the difference between a gaited horse and a normal one? ›

To put it simply a gaited horse, moves like a regular horse does at a walk, it places all four feet down independently, the difference is in the upper speeds, the next speed for a trotting horse is a trot, and for a gaited horse it is just a faster walk, and some gaited horses can walk so fast that even the trotting ...

What is the smoothest gaited horse? ›

In our opinion, Paso Fino is the smoothest gaited horse as it has three natural, even-spaced, four-beat gaits that vary in speed but are all comfortable. So you, as a rider, can choose the speed you are most comfortable with.

How much does a Paso Fino horse cost? ›

The price of a Paso Fino horse can range from free to over $100,000, depending on the quality of horse. Some elite, international show quality Paso Finos are well over $100,000, but the average pleasure or casual show level Paso Fino horse is available for less than $8,000.

How do you ride a gaited horse? ›

Q: How do you ride a gaited horse? Every horse you ride might be trained a little differently. Generally speaking, gaited horses are encouraged to move into their gaits by using light, steady hand contact, combined with light leg pressure while maintaining a balanced seat.

Do gaited horses need special saddles? ›

While it's true that gaited horses generally require a saddle that accommodates a greater range of motion, especially through the back, shoulders, and neck, this is an important consideration for all horses. Gaited horses muscles move differently than those that are built to perform only the walk, trot, and canter.

How do you train a gaited horse? ›

Beginning Gait Training on a Young Horse - YouTube

Can gaited horses gallop? ›

You will not see the benefits of a gaited horse on mountain trails. You will also not be doing much cantering and galloping (that would defeat the purpose), but some of the gaited horses can keep up with a horse cantering at their specific gait.

Can a gaited horse run barrels? ›

Gaited horses have smooth moves and agreeable personalities that make them suited for a variety of disciplines – including barrel racing!

Do gaited horses trot? ›

Gaited horses are known for their smooth lateral movements and unique gaits. While gaited horses certainly are capable of trotting and cantering, allowing a horse who is not already well trained and well balanced to trot can lead to the development of long-term bad habits.

How can you tell if a horse is gated? ›

To tell if a horse is gaited, you need to look at the horse's footfall. Most gaited horses perform ambling gaits, which is when they move each foot individually in a specific manner. This creates a distinct gliding motion and causes the rider to sit still in the saddle.

Are Tennessee Walking horses naturally gaited? ›

The Tennessee Walking Horse performs three distinct gaits: the flat foot walk, running walk, and canter. These three are the gaits for which the Tennessee Walking Horse is famous, with the running walk being an inherited, natural gait unique to this breed.

Are Clydesdales gaited horses? ›

Clydesdale, Non-Gaited, Draft Horse Breed.

How much is a Tennessee Walking Horse? ›

Tennessee Walking horses usually average around $2,000 per horse, but the cost can vary widely depending on how many breeders are in your area and overall demand. If you need your horse to be broken in and trained when you buy it, you will need to spend more. A fully trained horse can often run $10,000 or more.

How do you slow down a gaited horse? ›

Does your horse go too fast? Use head down to slow down - YouTube

What is the difference between a Peruvian Paso and a Paso Fino? ›

The two breeds are different and easily distinguishable. The Peruvian is somewhat larger, deeper in the body and wider. The Paso Fino is not bred for "termino" in its stride. The Peruvian has been called the "national horse" of Peru.

Is a Paso Fino horse good for beginners? ›

It's important to understand that many Paso Finos are forward rides, so they're not natural fits for beginning riders or for timid riders. Because their gait is so smooth, they're popular among riders who have back pain or other injuries that make riding non-gaited breeds difficult or uncomfortable.

How much weight can a Paso Fino horse carry? ›

Paso Finos can easily carry a rider that weighs 25% of its body weight, which is powerful. For comparison, most horse breeds shouldn't carry any more than 20% of their body weight.

How do you sit in a gaited horse saddle? ›

Lean back? Legs forward? How do you sit a gaited horse?!?! - YouTube

How do you get a gaited horse to canter? ›

Cantering the Gaited Horse! - YouTube

What saddles are best for gaited horses? ›

10 Best Saddles For Gaited Horses In 2022
#ProductScore
1HILASON 17 in Gaited Western…9.45
2Acerugs New Comfy GAITED Western…7.90
3Acerugs Premium TN GAITED Walking…9.55
4Acerugs 15” 16” 17” 18”…9.75
6 more rows

Are Tennessee walking horses good for beginners? ›

Generally, Tennessee Walking Horses are good beginner horses and have all the traits necessary to be an excellent choice for novice riders: they're sure-footed, willing, have a smooth gait, and a calm temperament.

How do you ask a gaited horse to gait? ›

Ask for an active walk. Mount up, and ask your horse for an active, vigorous walk, but don't allow him to jump up to a faster gait. If he does, apply a light rein cue to check him, while simultaneously using your seat and leg to keep the forward momentum. Ask him to walk as fast as he can without changing gait.

How fast do gaited horses walk? ›

Horses speed varies with their stride length, body build, and other factors, but here is a basic idea of how fast– in miles per hour– horses move at their various gaits: Walk: Roughly 3-4 MPH. A pleasure show horse can go as slow as 2 mph. Gaited horses– who do not trot– can do a 'running walk' as fast as 15 mph.

Can a gaited horse jump? ›

Gaited horses can jump with a little extra training and guidance help – and some can even reach high levels of jumping competition. However, all horses have their strengths and weaknesses, and gaited breeds are typically better suited for flatwork and trail riding than showjumping.

What does racking mean in horses? ›

What is the Meaning of a Racking Horse? A racking horse is a type of breed known for being strong, gentle, and beautiful. The strength comes from its single-foot gait that is unique from other horse breeds. It's a single-foot gait because it only steps one foot at a time on the ground.

What breed of horse makes the best barrel racer? ›

Quarter Horse

Quarter Horses are easily the top choice for barrel racing. The fastest horses of all, Quarter Horses, can run up to 55 miles per hour. On the other hand, an average horse speed is found to be only 27 miles per hour. So, to say Quarter Horses dominate any barrel races would be an understatement.

What are Tennessee Walkers used for? ›

Tennessee Walking Horses were developed for the purposes of riding, driving, and light farm work. They also became very popular with Southern plantation owners who called them Plantation Walkers. These men needed horses with comfortable gaits that could carry them the many miles necessary for inspecting immense fields.

Can Tennessee Walkers run? ›

The Running Walk

In a running walk gait, the Tennessee Walking Horse will travel at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. As the horse increases speed, he also increases the distance of his back foot over-step.

Does a trotting horse lift all four legs off ground? ›

In the gait known as the gallop, all four feet leave the ground-but not when the legs are outstretched, as you might expect. In reality, the horse is airborne when its hind legs swing near the front legs, as shown in Muybridge's photos.

What is the most sure footed horse? ›

Like so many other breeds that are perfectly suited to mountain hunting, the Rocky Mountain Horse has a great deal of stamina and is extremely sure footed over the roughest of terrain.

What is the best horse for trail riding? ›

Top 5 Horse Breeds For Trail Riding
  1. Quarter Horse. Cowgirls sure do love their Quarter Horses, and for good reason! ...
  2. Appaloosa. Gentle, intelligent, and obedient, Appaloosas are remarkable horses. ...
  3. Tennessee Walking Horse. This unique gaited breed has a four-beat running-walk. ...
  4. Arabian. ...
  5. Morgan.
Mar 15, 2018

What is the calmest gaited horse? ›

1. American Quarter Horse. Generally regarded as one of the calmest and quietest of all horse breeds, the American Quarter Horse is so-named for its ability to run a quarter-mile in the shortest time.

At what age should a horse stop being ridden? ›

Some horses have physical conditions or diseases that require an early retirement. Other horses can be ridden late into their life without issues. As a general rule, most horses should stop being ridden between 20 to 25 years old. Any horse, no matter their age, still requires a decent amount of exercise.

What horse has the best personality? ›

If you are looking for a calm, forgiving and patient horse look to the American Quarter Horse. This breed has been recognized many times for intelligence, as well as patience and calmness. Paints, Palominos and other breeds that share common lineage with the American Quarter Horse make good choices.

Are Tennessee Walkers easy keepers? ›

Tennessee Walkers tend to be easy keepers and typically do well on just fresh grass hay. These horses are typically free from disease, although Navicular disease and Laminitis are of concern. Additionally, problems with the feet are common, the result of competition or show.

What is unique about Tennessee Walking Horse? ›

The Tennessee Walking Horse is a breed of gaited horse known for its unique four-beat running-walk and flashy movement. It is a popular riding horse due to its calm disposition, smooth gaits and sure-footedness.

What are the 5 gaits of a Tennessee Walking Horse? ›

Natural Gaits There are five natural gaits of horses. These natural gaits include the walk, trot, canter/lope, gallop and back.

Are gaited horses good for beginners? ›

Some gaited horses can be great for beginners as they may be smoother to ride, helping a new rider build confidence in the saddle before trying to sit a bumpy trot.

Can a gaited horse canter? ›

Cantering the Gaited Horse! - YouTube

Can a gaited horse run barrels? ›

Gaited horses have smooth moves and agreeable personalities that make them suited for a variety of disciplines – including barrel racing!

Can a gaited horse trot? ›

Gaited horses are known for their smooth lateral movements and unique gaits. While gaited horses certainly are capable of trotting and cantering, allowing a horse who is not already well trained and well balanced to trot can lead to the development of long-term bad habits.

How much does it cost to buy a Tennessee Walking Horse? ›

Tennessee Walking horses usually average around $2,000 per horse, but the cost can vary widely depending on how many breeders are in your area and overall demand. If you need your horse to be broken in and trained when you buy it, you will need to spend more. A fully trained horse can often run $10,000 or more.

Are Tennessee Walkers naturally gaited? ›

The Tennessee Walking Horse has a reputation for having a calm disposition and a naturally smooth riding gait. While the horses are famous for flashy movement, they are popular for trail and pleasure riding as well as show.

How do you sit a gaited horse? ›

Use your SEAT to get GAIT! - YouTube

How do you ask a gaited horse to trot? ›

Beginning Gait Training on a Young Horse - YouTube

How do you train a gaited horse? ›

Work That Walk! Gaited Horse Gait Training Naturally - YouTube

Videos

1. Should you let your Gaited horse TROT?
(Ivy Starnes)
2. How to shoe a gaited horse (how we like to see it done)
(Dreamgaits)
3. How Gaited Horses Are Judged - An Interview With Gaited Horse Judge Mike Castonia
(Adamson Equestrian)
4. Gaited Horse Training - Advice on Bad Horses
(Gaye DeRusso)
5. Gaited Horse Training- The Gaited Horse that Paces
(Gaye DeRusso)
6. Gaited Horse Need TO Know about caveson, curb chain, gaiting, cues, and how to shoe them
(Horses on farm)

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