Natural Gaits of Horses
The trot is a two-beat gait that averages about eight miles an hour. The trot is the hardest gait for a rider to master, due to the roughness of the gait. In western style riding the ride must try to sit in the saddle without bouncing. When riding English style the rider will post to the trot. Posting is when the rider sits in the saddle during the first beat, and on the second beat the rider is off of the saddle.
The canter is a three-beat gait that is faster than the trot, but slower than the gallop. The average speed of the canter is thirteen miles an hour. The faster the horse is moving the longer the time between the three beats. During the canter, one of the horse??™s legs- the right rear leg for example moves the horse forward. During this beat, the horse is supported by only that single leg while the remaining three legs are moving forward. On the next beat the horse catches itself on the left rear and right front legs while the other hind leg is briefly on the ground. On the third beat, the horse catches itself on the left front leg while the diagonal pair briefly comes in contact with the ground. This gait, like the trot, is a hard gait for a rider to learn to ride due to the roughness of the gait.
The gallop is very much like the canter, except it is faster, more ground covering, and the three- beats turn into four-beats. It is the fastest gait of the horse, averaging twenty eight miles an hour. In the wild the gallop is used when the horse needs to flee from predators. During a gallop, the horse will start off with the non-leading hind foot. During the second and third beats the inside hind foot (no leading side) hits the ground a split second before the outside front foot (leading side). The fourth beat the front leading foot, followed by a brief moment of all feet off of the ground. This gate is loved by both novice and experienced riders due to the smoothness of the gait combined with the speed. During this gait the rider will feel as if he or she becomes one with the horse.