Understanding and Evaluating the Gaited Horse (Parsons)
My Horse University and eXtension’s HorseQuest welcome you to this live Webcast. Understanding andEvaluating the Gaited Horse Alaina Parsons National Walking Horse Association Michigan State University
Meet our presenter: Alaina Parsons Michigan State University
Overview of goals• Identify the correct gaits for the following breeds: – Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) – Spotted Saddle Horse (SSH) – Racking Horse – Paso Fino – Rocky Mountain Horse/United Mountain Horse (RMH) – Missouri Fox Trotter (MFT)• Identify incorrect and unbalanced gaits• Use correct collection, balance and frame to identify gaits• Evaluate gaits based on quality and athleticism
Gaits of the TWH• Trail Walk – Also called a “walk” or a “dog walk.” – A relaxed walk, comparable to the free walk in dressage, with the horse on light contact while displaying excellent manners and consistency. The horse should stretch his neck downward in a relaxed manner, reaching for the bit over his topline and move with a free, loose stride.
Gaits of the TWH• Flat Walk – Brisk, long reaching walk with an overstride and rhythmical head nod. – 4 cornered gait with each foot hitting the ground separately at regular intervals. – Horse will glide over the track left by the front foot with his hind foot: right rear over right front, left rear over left front. – The hock should show only forward horizontal motion. The horse should break at the knees, reaching and pulling with the front legs with movement originating from the shoulder.
Gaits of the TWH• Running Walk – Should have all of the characteristics of a flat foot walk, but with a noticeable increase in speed and stride length, resulting in a gait with a smoother stride and more powerful natural motion. – “If he ain’t noddin’, he ain’t walkin’”. – Naturally have a straight up and down vertical head motion timed with the overall rhythm of the gait. – Straight and loose, 4-cornered and exhibit over-all balance, without any trace or degree of a rack, trot, fox trot, pace or stepping pace. – No excessive winging, crossing or rope-walking. Horses exhibiting an exaggerated, hesitating way of going, with a tendency to point with the front hooves, are not in form.
Gaits of the TWH• Canter – Consistent, smooth and straight on both leads. – Exhibit a rolling or rocking chair motion, comfortably collected, giving the appearance of ease and grace. – The horse should be relaxed, performing in rhythm, with head motion in perfect harmony with leg movement. – The horse’s head and neck will rise and fall at the canter in order to balance itself, but excessive throwing of the head or “pumping” of the reins by the rider should be penalized.
Gaits of the Racking Horse• Trail Walk – Same as previously described.• Show Walk – A smooth, collected, slow and easy gait. It is a distinctive four-beat gait displaying both style and grace. This will either be a collected flat walk or a very slow and collected rack.
Gaits of the Racking Horse• Trail Rack – A relaxed, 4 cornered, 4 beat gait, with each foot on the ground separately, with the hind foot following the fore foot of each side. – A very smooth gait with quicker strides than a flat walk/running walk. There should be very little head motion, and no nodding of the head. – A long stride is desirable and the hock should move with horizontal action, and the front legs will show more elevation rather than reach.
Gaits of the Racking Horse• Show Rack/Fast Rack/Rack On – The same desirable qualities of the trail rack, but with a noticeable increase in speed and stride length, as well as style and action. – This should be a rather fast gait, but form should never be sacrificed for speed. Break of gait at this speed is HEAVILY penalized.
Gaits of the SSH• Show Walk – Simply defined as a “smooth easy gait with a smooth backend, with the horse under control, and the head set.” – Generally either a slow rack or a flat walk.• Show Gait – Simply defined as “an increase in speed from the show walk, with the horse still under control and the head set.” – Generally either a fast rack or a running walk.• Canter – Same as previously described
Gaits of the Paso Fino• Walk – Evenly-spaced, straight, brisk, animated and rhythmic. – Should have collection, style, and brilliance.• Classic Fino – Evenly-spaced 4 beat lateral gait. – Smooth, animated, and should be executed with brilliance and style. – Fully collected and balanced. – Footfall pattern should be extremely quick with very little forward extension.
Gaits of the Paso Fino• Paso Corto – Evenly-spaced 4 beat lateral gait. – Extremely smooth, animated, and executed with brilliance and style. – Will exhibit moderate forward speed and extension.• Paso Largo – Evenly-spaced 4 beat lateral gait. – Smooth, balanced, collected, and show bold animation with rapid forward motion. – Similar to the Paso Corto, but with a longer stride and more speed.
Gaits of the RMH• Trail Walk – Same as previously described.• Show Walk – Deliberately timed, even 4 beat gait performed at moderate speed and stride. – Executed in a relaxed, rhythmic manner. The feet should move in a non-exaggerated way of going.
Gaits of the RMH• Rocky Mountain Pleasure Gait – Same qualities exhibited as the show walk, but with a noticeable increase in speed and stride length. – It will be similar to a rack, but with a very slight head motion.• Canter – Same as previously described.
Gaits of the MFT• Trail walk – Same as previously described.• Flat walk – Same as previously described.
Gaits of the MFT• Fox trot – Diagonal gait with leg support on opposite corners. – Front foot touches the ground a split second before the opposite hind foot. – Literally be walking with the front legs and trotting with the hind legs (will take the appearance of a broken trot). – Not a high-stepping gait, but a sure-footed one. The hind feet should show a smooth sliding action, and the horse may nod its head in rhythm. The step should be on a horizontal plane and should be springy, consistent, and smooth.
Other gaits• Pace – 2 beat lateral gait, meaning that the hind and fore foot of the same side strike the ground at virtually the same time. – Rough gait where the rider will “swing” side to side in the saddle. It is very “bouncy” in appearance.• Stepping pace – A broken pace. 4 beats, but still very swingy and rough. – Head will nod in a “V” shape, or swing from side to side. – No true collection and balance to the horse’s frame, and the rider will still be slightly swaying.
Other gaits• Amble – This basically refers to any gait that is slow and clumsy in appearance. The horse shows a lack of impulsion and collection, but is still performing a reasonably smooth but unidentifiable gait.
Inappropriate Gaits• Horses MUST perform the gait for their respective class or breed• A horse performing any other gait other than their respective gait should be heavily penalized and cannot place above a horse who is performing the correct gait while having a clean ride• Example: TWH performing a pace, MFT performing a rack, Paso performing a fox trot
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