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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



types of movements of a horse. There are natural and artificial gaits.

Natural gaits The walk is a slow gait in which the horse successively lifts and puts down all four legs, which are shifted along a diagonal line. The length of the step is 1.4–1.8 m, and the speed is 5–7 km/hr for fast horses and 3.5–4.5 km/hr for workhorses. The trot is a faster, two-beat gait in which the horse moves two legs simultaneously in diagonal pairs. The step in the slow trot is about 2 m long, and the speed is 13–15 km/hr. The regular (field) trot has a period of suspension. The step is 2.2 m long, with speeds of up to 20 km/hr. In the sweeping trot the horse puts its hind legs in front of the tracks of the corresponding front legs. The step is up to 6 m long. The maximum short-distance speed of trotters (1.6–3.2 km) is up to 50 km/hr. The pace is a two-beat gait in which the horse lifts and puts down first both left legs, then both right legs. It is brisker than the trot. The gallop is a jump-like three-beat gait with a period of suspension. The length of the step (stride) is 1.5–2 m in a short gallop, 3 m in an ordinary gallop (canter), and 5–7 m in a fast gallop (career). The speed is about 20 km/hr for the ordinary gallop and up to 60 km/hr for the fast gallop. In the jump the horse pushes itself from the ground simultaneously with the hindquarters. The jumping record of horses is 2.47 m high and 8.3 m long.

Artificial gaits During the parade walk the horse trots, raising high and stretching its legs. The passage is a short, collected trot; the piaffe is a passage executed in place. In the pirouette the horse keeps its hind legs in place and traces a full circle with the front legs.

The proper utilization of natural gaits is very important for preserving the resistance and work capacity of horses. Artificial gaits are specifically used in the circus.


Kniga o loshadi,vol. 1. Compiled under the direction of S. M. Budennyi. Moscow, 1952.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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