Look Who’s Walking: A Guide to Horse Gaits

Look Who’s Walking: A Guide to Horse Gaits

Posted by in Pigeon Forge Stables Blog | January 23, 2014
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Two people riding horses through the woodsWe’ve all seen the movies. A heroic cowboy jumps on the back of his noble steed and they speed off into the distance at breakneck speeds, galloping for hours on end, until our protagonist gets to his final destination and saves the day. Certainly, this sort of thing makes for an entertaining story, but is it realistic? Contrary to what you’ve seen on the silver screen, horses don’t spend most of their times galloping. In fact, there are lots of different ways that horses move, known as “horse gaits”. Before you spend the day horseback riding in Gatlinburg, take a second to learn about the various ways that horses get around.   


If your horse isn’t in a hurry, he is probably just walking. With this relaxed gait, your four legged friend will move at about 4 miles per hour. While walking, a horse always has one foot in the air and three feet on the ground, except for a second when weight is transferred from one foot to the other.


Do you remember the cowboy from the beginning of this blog? Although the movies show him riding a galloping horse for miles and miles, this is in fact impossible. In reality, riders who want to cover long distances quickly would use a trot. While the speed of a trot varies, it averages at about 8 miles per hour. Trotting horses move their legs in unison, in diagonal pairs. If a horse is in good health, it can keep up a trot for hours.


When a horse wants to pick up speed, he might break into a canter. This gait is faster than a typical trot, but it is still slower than a gallop. With the canter, a horse can reach speeds of between 10 and 17 miles per hour.


If you need a burst of speed, it is time to start galloping. As the fastest of all horse gaits, the gallop will allow your horse to travel 25 to 30 miles per hour. In the wild, the gallop is often used for emergencies, such as escaping from a hungry predator.

When you go horseback riding in Gatlinburg, you won’t be doing any galloping! Instead, your horse will will walk or trot at a comfortable place, so you can enjoy the magnificent scenery all around you. Five Oaks Riding Stables features a gorgeous 70 acre nature park with stunning views of the Smoky Mountains and local wildlife. Click the link to learn more about our amazing nature park!


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