Paces or Gaits of the Horse

A horse has four paces - walk, trot, canter, and gallop.

Walk

The horse moves in a four-time gait with each leg moving in turn.

Trot

The horse moves in a two-time gait with pairs of diagonal legs moving alternately. It is more bouncy than walk and the terms rising trot and sitting trot refer to the way the rider moves while the horse is trotting. Rising trot is the comfier way of trotting, where the rider lifts up (or rises) from the saddle every other beat. There is a distinct technique to it and is one of the first things that a new rider will learn to do. Rising trot is a comfortable way of riding long distances for both horse and rider. Sitting trot is where the rider sits securely in the saddle whilst trotting. Sitting trot gives the rider greater control over the horse during training.

Canter

The horse moves with three beats to each stride, is generally faster than the trot, and more comfortable to sit to! The name arises because if you rode at this pace from London to Canterbury you could do the journey in a day – before motor vehicles were invented of course.

Gallop

The gallop is a four time movement with four rapid beats to each stride. This is the pace race horses use.