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Horse & Pony Gaits

Gaits are the way a horse or pony can move, either naturally or through training

Horse & Pony Gaits Explained

Review the animations and graphics below to better understand the walk, trot, canter, and gallop.

Walk

The walk is a gait with four beats. It does not have a moment of suspension and it averages 4 mph.

1st Beat: Right Hind Leg
2nd Beat: Right Fore Leg
3rd Beat: Left Hind Leg
4th Beat: Left Fore Leg

Trot

The trot has two beats, averages 6 mph and has a moment of suspension. The legs move in diagonal pairs.

1st Beat: Left Fore Leg/Right Hind Leg
2nd Beat: Right Fore Leg/Left Hind Leg

Canter

The canter is a gait with three beats. It averages 8 mph and has a moment of suspension. A western canter is called a lope.

What Are Canter Leads?

When you canter, there’s always a leading front leg that stretches out further than the other leg. This is usually the inside leg if you’re riding in an arena. If you’re going around the arena in the right direction, your horse’s right front leg should lead at the canter.

Right Lead Canter

1st Beat: Left Hind Leg
2nd Beat: Right Hind Leg/Left Fore Leg
3rd Beat: Right Fore Leg

Left Lead Canter

1st Beat: Right Hind Leg
2nd Beat: Left Hind Leg/Right Fore Leg
3rd Beat: Left Fore Leg

Gallop

The gallop has four beats, averages 15 mph and has a moment of suspension. A hand gallop isn’t actually a gallop, but a faster canter.

Right Lead Gallop

1st Beat: Left Hind Leg
2nd Beat: Right Hind Leg
3rd Beat: Left Fore Leg
4th Beat: Right Fore Leg

Left Lead Gallop

1st Beat: Right Hind Leg
2nd Beat: Left Hind Leg
3rd Beat: Right Fore Leg
4th Beat: Left Fore Leg

Ready to Take the Course?

Earn Badges and Rewards While you learn about horses

Go through the lessons in this course, and practice what you learned with the free learning games. Earn achievement badges and points for each course you complete. See your name on the quiz leaderboards, and earn a certificate of accomplishment! 

Learn More

Visit other related learning pages with games and quizzes

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Review some basics about Horse Jumps and Play the Horse Jumps Memory Game

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Posting Trot Diagonals

As riders learn the mechanics of the trot and the up and down motion their seat makes in the saddle, they quickly learn that there is rhyme and reason of when to rise and fall.

The ABCs of Riding Arena Etiquette

Learn more about politely sharing a riding arena with other riders.