Gaits of the Horse
These are the 4 basic gaits of the horse:

The walk is a four-beat lateral gait. Each beat is distinct and can be easily heard. The walk is natural, and it is the slowest of the gaits.

This animation shows a slowed version of the trot. The trot is a two-beat diagonal gait. The right hind and left front move together, and the left hind and right front move together. In this diagram the right front and left hind are colored red, so you can see the diagonal pairs working together.

This is the canter, a 3-beat gait. Lope is another term for this gait, but it usually refers to the slow, western-pleasure style of cantering. While cantering, the horse is either on the left or right lead. In this animation, the horse's left front leg is hitting the ground in front of the right, so the horse is on the left lead. A horse on the right lead would have its right leg hitting the ground in front of, not before, the left leg. When turning in a circle to the right, the horse should be on the right lead, and when turning to the left, should be on the left lead. So the horse should always be leading with it's inside leg.
A flying lead change is when the horse is cantered in a figure 8, and changes leads in mid stride when it reaches the middle of the 8, where it changes directions.
Most horses will canter on the correct lead naturally, and a few need to be trained to. A horse that is leading with its outside leg is said to be on the 'wrong lead', or moving with a 'false lead'. In some high-level competitions, horses may be required to do a "counter canter", that is, cantering on the wrong lead.

This is the gallop, or run. When the horse is fully extending itself in a run, there is a moment when all four feet are off the ground. It is usually a 4-beat gait, varying in speeds. Gallop speed is about 30 miles per hour. Here is the sequence of the gallop: 1. left hind; 2. right hind; 3. left fore; 4. right fore, followed by a moment when all four hooves are in the air.

Note: These images have been freely distributed on the web, and have been considered free for the taking by most sites. If you are, or know of, the artist or any copyrights attached to the image, please EMAIL ME and I will remove them or credit the artist.




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