What Is a Gaited Horse Useful For

What Is a Gaited Horse Useful For?

Humans have been riding horses for centuries as a means of transportation in the past.

This was because horses often provided a smooth ride and could be ridden on for hours. Horses were also great at jumping so people continued to use them for riding as it became more of a sport.

If you look back at history, one horse breed often stands out: gaited horses. They were considered the best horses when it came to transportation and are still popular now.

Here is all you need to know about a gaited horse.

What Is a Gaited Horse?

Simply put, a gaited horse is a horse that moves each of its legs independently. That means when this horse moves, there is always one foot on the ground.

This way of movement ensures that gaited horses use less energy for activities and have the best stamina, which means you could travel longer distances with a gaited horse than you would with non-gaited horses.

What Is a Gaited Horse Useful For

Gaited horses also make rides less stressful because they always have one foot on the ground, which means there is less bouncing throughout the ride.

No wonder they quickly rose to popularity back then and remain the same now, many love using gaited horses for trail riding as they offer a comfortable ride.

How to Identify a Gaited Horse

The best way to tell if a horse is gaited is to observe how it walks. Gaited horses move the legs on the same side simultaneously.

While both legs on the same side move together, each foot strikes the ground independently. This means that when they are in a trot, their legs move diagonally.

In simpler terms, a gaited horse moves like a regular horse walking. The difference is that at higher speeds, the gaited horse walks faster. Trotting horses, on the other hand, break into a trot.

The Different Kinds of Horse Gait

Not all gaited horses move the same way. There are many different kinds of gait that includes artificial gaits like:

  • The flat walk
  • The running walk
  • The saddle gait
  • Rack
  • Pace

Trail horses and show horses move with different gaits at different speeds. Most people prefer an original trail horse as they are better suited for trail rides. When working with gaited horses, a naturally gaited horse is often the best.

Horses with natural gaits are those that carry this quality in their genes. They are also known for their easy-going nature, smooth gait, and calm disposition. The different kinds of natural gaits include:

  • The walk
  • The Canter
  • The trot
  • The gallop
  • Back

Common Gaited Horse Breeds

There are only about 30 naturally gaited horse breeds. Some horses can be trained to be gaited, and sometimes, a mutation in the gene can cause a regular breed to be gaited. Here are some common horse breeds that are naturally gaited:

American Saddlebred

These horses are about 14 to 16 hands tall, gentle, and sure-footed that were developed in the 18th Century. Generals during the Civil War preferred this breed as they are athletic. While their temperament is spirited, these horses are also gentle and stand out for their elegance.

American Standardbred

This breed of naturally gaited horses is excellent for harness racing. There are two types when it comes to this breed: the trotters and the pacers. They are known to be some of the fastest trotting horses in the world.

Icelandic Horse

If you’re looking for a safe horse that offers beginner riders a smooth ride, this is the one. Icelandic horses are one of the purest breeds in the world and have a lateral gait that is comfortable and fast.

They also have an ambling gait that is known as the tölt and a four-beat gait. Sadly, this breed is local to Iceland only.

Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walking horse is a gorgeous horse with a muscular build. It is typically between 14 to 17 hands tall and is well-liked for being gentle.

Although Tennessee Walking Horses have many four-beat smooth gaits, its running-walk movement makes it popular. This technique means that this horse is much faster, achieving 10 to 20 miles per hour.

Paso Fino

Primarily found in Puerto Rico and Colombia, the Paso Fino horse is powerful. They are famous for their long manes and controlled spirit. This means that while it is energetic, this horse is always obedient.

Trail riders and riders of all levels are safe on the Paso Fino. It has three gaits that are natural, smooth, and evenly spaced. They are the Paso Corto, Paso Largo and Paso Fino.

Peruvian Paso

Sometimes confused with the Paso Fino, this popular horse is from Peru and is an entirely different breed. It is known for being a very smooth riding horse and has three main gaits, the Walk, Paso Llano, and Canter.

Rocky Mountain Horse

The Rocky Mountain Horse is known for its beautiful chocolate color and flaxen mane. This horse was bred in the mountains of Kentucky and has a flaxen tail too. They also have a smooth four-beat gait.

Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is the oldest gaited breed in North America. They were developed in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and there are less than 3000 of these horses alive today. It has three main gaits: the Walk, Saddle Gait, and Canter.

The Smoothest Gaited Horse

There is no simple answer to this question because a lot of factors come into play. All of the gaited horses we’ve listed above give riders a smooth experience. While this is true, they all have different gaits that could be average, good, or excellent based on your tastes.

Another factor that comes into play here is the rider. The way you like to ride your horse will influence which horse has the best gait for you. Are you the type that sits back deep in the seat to relax? You’ll get a different experience from a rider who enjoys sitting balanced in the middle and riding with energy.

If you’re asking this question because you want to know before purchasing a particular breed, it is important to do your research. Before you go ahead, it may be better to ride several breeds to determine which gait feels most natural to your riding style!

If we absolutely had to choose, we’d go with the Paso Fino. This is because all three of its natural, even spaced, four-beat gaits are comfortable. That means that no matter the speed, this horse gives riders a smooth riding experience.

How To Train a Gaited Horse

You may be surprised to see this, but even naturally gaited horses need some training. They require proper training to develop the ideal gait. The best place to start is to provide the best foundation with your riding. If you focus on being the best rider, your horse will naturally develop an excellent gait.

An unbalanced rider means a horse must spend a lot of energy rebalancing, which could hamper good gait. Just remember to be patient while training your gaited horse so that you can develop that strong bond that exists between horse and rider.

Advantages of Gaited Horses

The benefits of gaited horses are numerous. As a rider, a gaited horse offers you the best experience, and here is why:

Easier to Ride

Gaited horses have a limited amount of bounce. This offers its rider a smooth ride and is ideal for beginner riders. Almost anyone can ride a gaited horse on their first try. You won’t have to work your muscles quite as hard with this type of horse.

Best for Long Distances

The way gaited horses move helps them conserve energy. That means they can travel longer distances without getting too tired, which is why it is popular for trail rides. Their smooth ride is another reason why it’s the best option.

Gentle and Calm

Most naturally gaited horses have a calm and gentle demeanor. They are generally agreeable, which makes them great for new horse owners.

What Is a Gaited Horse Useful For

It’s important to note that every horse is different, so make sure to do your due diligence and not pick one because they are gaited.

Myths Around Gaited Horses

Alongside all the popularity of gaited horses comes with interesting stories. These stories, while most times harmless, are untrue. You might have heard some of them when asking about horses, so it’s best that the myths are disproved before you pass them along too. Here are some common myths about gaited horses.

Gaited Horses Can’t Canter

The only reason why this would be a possibility would be due to injury or extreme age. All gaited horses can canter and often do so on their own.

Gaited Horse Get Their Feet Tangled in Bushes

Gaited horses are not immobilized by bushes and must watch to know where to plant their next steps. They can move through a bush with no trails at a good running pace.

Quarter Horses Walk Faster

Most horses trot to keep up with the amazing horses known as gaited horses. We don’t know which horse owner you might have heard this one from, but it’s untrue.

Gaited Horses Are Not Good for Working Cattle

The easy answer to this one is, “How can the cow distinguish?” If anything, gaited horses are better because they can cover more ground with less energy.

Gaited horses are just like other horses when it comes to cattle. An individual horse could have a natural cow sense, while others need to be taught.

They Are No Good in The Mountains

About two of the naturally gaited horses, we mentioned earlier, are mountain bred! Gaited horses are great for trail riding in mountainous areas and outperform other horses. They cover more miles, move smoother. and travel faster.

How to Ride a Gaited Horse

If you’ve become the owner of a gaited horse, you’re in for a treat. You don’t need much experience when it comes to riding one.

As we’ve said earlier, gaited horses provide a smoother riding experience, and you won’t get that jarring motion while on the saddle. This remains the same even if your saddle isn’t perfectly balanced.

A bad rider can still affect the ability of a gaited horse to travel efficiently. While you can afford to be a lazy rider to an extent with this kind of horse, it’s best to do things correctly. Start by making sure you learn to sit in a saddle and ride correctly. When riding a horse, proper balance is important. It helps your horse perform optimally.

Beginner riders who learn with a gaited horse sometimes neglect to learn how to balance because a gaited horse is really comfortable. This could, however, mean a hard time transitioning to non-gaited breeds in the future so watch out for that.

Other than that, you don’t have to work your muscles so hard on this horse and can ride for longer. Your ride will be smooth, practical, and comfortable.

There are special saddles made for horses with a gait, but this is mainly a marketing scheme. Your gaited horse can wear any saddle that fits it properly, which includes both English and western saddles.


Gaited horses are the best breed of horses for riders of all levels. Although you might have to transition horses as your riding improves, a gaited horse offers many advantages that others do not. If you’re looking into becoming a horse owner, a gaited horse might be your best option.

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