Sunday, January 06, 2013

Differences in Horse Gaits?

Wow, this is irritating. There are millions of videos on Youtube giving you 'how-to's to everything you need to know about horses and riding them... or so you'd think.

My parents are finding it hard to differentiate between a trot, canter and gallop. I'm having trouble remembering what the different types of each gait is and how it looks too. So off I go looking for videos. Simple enough, right? There SHOULD be a few videos on how each gait is different, and how each gait has different types of movement.

But no. Theres only ONE video that shows the difference in the trots and even then, it's not obvious enough for a non-rider to understand. Why in the world are people posting videos of them sitting on a still horse and just TALKING about it?! Is that going to bloody help ANYONE?! Hell no!

Is this a really difficult request? Just a series of videos to show the difference? I'm tired of looking already. If anyone has found videos on the differences between horse gaits, I'd be really appreciated.

~ An annoyed new rider


  1. Pay attention to the rhythm of the horse's hoof beats. A trot is a ONE-two, ONE-two rhythm. A canter is ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three. A gallop is a hard and fast four beat (so fast that it can be taken as a single beat), while a walk is a slow four beat. Also, a trot will feel super bouncy while the canter and gallop are much, much smoother. In a canter or gallop, the horse will *always* have one front leg in front of the other (called the lead - hence "changing leads" when cantering in a figure 8, since it's supposed to be the outside leg), and you can tell which when you look at the shoulders. A walk and a trot involve both forelegs switching lead alternately (and when you are posting - what you call a rising trot - you technically should be rising when... I think it's when the outside leg is forward, and sitting when the inside leg is forward. But I could have that part backwards).

    1. Hey, found some good youtube videos. Try searching under "English riding walk trot canter" - they do "flat classes" at English riding competitions (mostly English is focused on jumping or dressage), and those are all about the riders walking, trotting, and cantering their horses at the judge's direction. They look at posture, lead changes, posting with the appropriate leg forward, etc. Take a look at this one:

      The rider starts off at the canter. See how the horse's left leg is always the one reaching further forward? I had it backward, it's the inside leg that should be leading in the canter. at about 0:16 she drops down to a trot - see how the legs are suddenly all moving in opposition (like how we walk, with the right arm and left leg moving together, then left arm and right leg - same pattern with a horse at the trot, left front leg and right hind leg, then right front and left hind)? Around 0:24 she goes back to the canter, and 0:34 back to the trot. Etc. I'll let you figure out the rest. ;) At the walk, all 4 legs move one at a time, it's only in the faster gaits that they start moving in pairs.

      This one is interesting - it's filmed from the horse's back, intended to give you a feeling of riding yourself. You can hear the rhythms of the hoofbeats at the various gaits more clearly on the harder surfaces, and see a bit of how the movement of head and rider is different at the trot vs the canter.

      This one is just to show you what I'm on about "leads" and "lead changes". This rider is doing a figure-8 and teaching the horse to change leads at the center, sometimes coming down to a trot at the crossover point and going back to the canter. That's how you start to teach the horse to do it, it's easier for them than doing a flying lead change (though those are AWESOME to ride! you really do feel like you and the horse are flying, just for an instant). In a figure 8, you are switching the direction of your circle every time you cross the center, so the horse has to change which leg is leading to keep it to the inside leg. See that little buck around 0:48? He wanted to go back to the same lead he had before, and was either annoyed by having to change or was just off his stride and had to "jump" to change it (though given the poster's little comment about "he's not always misbehaving!", I would assume he was just being cranky, lol).

    2. Omg thanks! I never thought to be using 'English' as a keyword to search. Yeah, a lot of vids on youtube is western style so it can get confusing. Hehe, thanks for the vids! I shall go look for more!

    3. Yeah, gaits are rather unimportant in most Western riding. And in Western, the "canter" is often called the "lope" instead. Same gait, different name. Just 'cause they want to keep you guessing. ;)

    4. Reminds me of one of the vid I saw. "Difference between the canter and the lope". They showed the horse cantering... and then the horse cantering again... Then they compared both vids side by side... and THEN showed how only the tack was different LOL! I was so confused xD