Fact 4the day: More types of ambling
The rack or racking is a gait that is also known historically as the "Virginia Single-foot Gait," with many breeds of horses capable of producing this gait. It is most commonly associated with the Five-Gaited American Saddlebred. In the rack, the speed of an even lateral singlefoot gait is increased to be approximately that of the trot or pace, but instead of being a two-beat gait, it is a four-beat gait with equal intervals between each beat.
The rack, like other intermediate gaits, is smoother than the trot because the hooves hitting the ground individually rather in pairs minimizes the force and bounce the horse transmits to the rider. To achieve this gait the horse must be in a "hollow position". This means that, instead of a rounded back as seen in dressage horses and others that work off their hind quarters, the spine is curved somewhat downward. This puts the racking horse in the best position to rack without breaking into another gait. If the rider sits back or leans slightly back, this will encourage the hollow position. This allows the hind legs to trail and makes the rack easier for the horse. The downside of this is that this position weakens the back and makes the horse less able to carry the weight of the rider without strain.
The rack, at speed, can be as fast as a canter. The ride is smooth, and the rider appears to remain motionless as the horse moves. The horse itself maintains a fairly still head and most of the action is in the legs. At horse shows, one of the Slow Gaits and the Rack are required gaits for the Five-Gaited American Saddlebred, who also performs the walk, trot and canter. The gait is to some degree hereditary in five-gaited Saddlebreds. The rack is also a genetic trait in a breed called the Racking horse, and a variation is seen in the Icelandic horse.
Icelandic horses at the tölt
The tölt is a four-beat lateral ambling gait mainly found in Icelandic horses. Known for its explosive acceleration and speed, it is also comfortable and ground-covering. There is considerable variation in style within the gait, and thus the tölt is variously compared to similar lateral gaits such as the rack of the Saddlebred, the largo of the Paso Fino, or the running walk of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Like all lateral ambling gaits, the footfall pattern is the same as the walk (left hind, left front, right hind, right front), but differs from the walk in that it can be performed at a range of speeds, from the speed of a typical fast walk up to the speed of a normal canter. Some Icelandic horses prefer to tölt, while others prefer to trot; correct training can improve weak gaits, but the tölt is a natural gait present from birth. There are two varieties of the tölt that are considered incorrect by breeders. The first is an uneven gait called a "Pig's Pace" or "Piggy-pace" that is closer to a two-beat pace than a four-beat amble. The second is called a Valhopp and is a tölt and canter combination most often seen in untrained young horses or horses that mix their gaits. Both varieties are normally uncomfortable to ride. The Icelandic also performs a pace called a skeið, flugskeið or "flying pace".
The Faroese Horse and the Nordlandshest/Lyngshest of Norway share common ancestry with the Icelandic horse and some individuals of these breeds have the capacity to tölt, although it is not as commonly used.
A Peruvian Paso
The Peruvian Paso and Paso Fino are two breeds which have smooth innate intermediate gaits.
The Paso Fino has several speed variations called (from slowest to fastest) the paso fino, paso corto, and paso largo. All have an even 1-2-3-4 rhythm. The Paso fino gait is very slow, performed mainly for horse show competition. Horses are ridden over a "fino strip", which is usually plywood set into the ground, so the judges can listen for absolute regularity of footfall. The paso corto is similar to the singlefoot. The paso largo is similar to the rack and can be extremely fast, up to 25-30 mph.
Some Colombian Paso Finos, particularly if tired or stressed, may perform a diagonal gait known as "Trocha" or a slower version, "Pasitrote," both akin to the fox trot (see below). Many Paso Fino trainers in the USA discourage their horses from using diagonal gaits, emphasizing the lateral gaits exclusively, though in Colombia, it is more often considered acceptable.
The Peruvian Paso has an even lateral gait known as the Paso Llano, which has the same footfall sequence as the Running Walk, and is characterized by an elongated and lateral motion of the front shoulder known as "Termino." The faster ambling gait of the Peruvian Paso is called the Sobreandando and is a slightly uneven lateral gait somewhat closer to a stepping pace. The Peruvian paso, when tired or stressed, may also fall into an undesired diagonal gait, the pasitrote, as well as a pace-like gait, the huachano.
Marchador lateral gaits
The Mangalarga Marchador has two lateral gaits: the "marcha picada", a lateral gait ranging in speed from a somewhat pace-like running walk to a pace similar to the Icelandic flying pace; and the "center march", which is very close to the classic running walk seen on flat-shod Tennessee Walkers. It also has a third, diagonal, ambling gait, described below.
Ambling gaits in other breeds
The revaal or ravaal is a four-beat lateral gait associated with Marwari, Kathiawari or Sindhi horse breeds of India.
Diagonal ambling gaits
This Mangalarga Marchador is exhibiting a diagonal ambling gait
The diagonal gaits are usually slightly uneven, in a 1-2, 3-4 rhythm that gives the rider a slight forward and back sensation when riding. They are considered physically easier on the horse than the lateral gaits as less hollowing of the back occurs when the horse is in the gait. However, proponents of laterally-gaited horses argue that they are also not quite as smooth.
The fox trot is most often associated with the Missouri Foxtrotter breed, but is also seen under different names. The fox trot is a four-beat broken diagonal gait in which the front foot of the diagonal pair lands before the hind, eliminating the moment of suspension and giving a smooth ride said to also be sure-footed. The gait is sometimes described as having the horse walk with the front feet and trot with the back. In a fox trot, the horse must keep one front foot on the ground at all times and display a sliding motion with the hind legs.
Diagonal gaits in Latin American breeds
The Mangalarga Marchador performs the marcha batida, a diagonal gait similar to the fox trot. The Peruvian Paso and Caballo Criollo Colombiano perform the trocha, which is also a four-beat diagonal gait, though it is often discouraged as a gait fault in these breeds. Another version seen in the Paso Fino is called the Pasitrote.
Quote 4the day: Smile and things in life will look easier. Allow your four legged friend to take you for a walk and you'll be in heaven..
Thought 4the day: Not everything in life is straight forward sometimes you can be surprised which is what i love about horses. They don't plan their day or their week they simply go with the flow and see what happens and when. Perhaps at times we should take a leaf out of their book and just go with them for that ride and see where it takes us :o) No harm in it once in a while. I know horses can c...hange as we have one that is a borderline false rig and he could not and has not been in with other horses as all he would do is attack them now he on his own accord has taken a mare into his field and is simply enjoying the company and sharing his hay which surprised us greatly :o) Leopards can change their spots..