When walking, a horse’s legs follow this sequence: left hind leg, left front leg, right hind leg, right front leg, in a regular 1-2-3-4 beat. At the walk, the horse will alternate between having three or two feet on the ground. A horse moves its head and neck in a slight up and down motion that helps maintain balance.
There are five natural gaits of horses. These natural gaits include the walk, trot, canter/lope, gallop and back.
Locomotion is at the very heart of what most domesticated horses do for a living. The way a horse moves (specifically) often is taken for granted. Locomotion is directly linked to conformation as it dictates “the way a horse moves.”
The canter is a controlled, three-beat gait, while the gallop is a faster, four-beat variation of the same gait. It is a natural gait possessed by all horses, faster than most horses’ trot, or ambling gaits. The gallop is the fastest gait of the horse, averaging about 40 to 48 kilometres per hour (25 to 30 mph).
Rider tension and imbalance is a common cause of stopping your horse from going forward willingly. Because that tension interferes with his natural rhythm and movement. And that prevents him from being able to forward comfortably. Every horse has an unique rhythm to his movement.
In the gait known as the gallop, all four feet leave the ground-but not when the legs are outstretched, as you might expect. In reality, the horse is airborne when its hind legs swing near the front legs, as shown in Muybridge’s photos.
When it comes to horses, rhythm refers to the number of beats in a horse’s gait. So for example, a walk is a four-beat gait. A trot is two beats (diagonal pairs fall together) and a canter is 4 beats (outside hind, diagonal pair, and inside front, suspension).