Most Popular Gaited Horse Breeds

Popular Gaited Horses

A horse that performs a foot fall pattern outside the normal walk, trot/jog, canter/lope sequence is said to be gaited. A horse that single foots, ambles, paces, tolts, or does a running walk or rack is ‘gaiting’. 

There are over thirty different breeds that have gaits beyond basic walk, trot, and canter that we normally see. Gaited breeds are seen as somewhat unusual, although at one time, they may actually have been the norm. There’s been a renewed interest in gaited breeds. Some people with...MORE bad backs find them easier to ride. Some even find the movement helps their back problems. Some people are attracted to the fact that they are a smooth ride. Others find their showiness attractive. Most gaited horses are born with the ability to travel with a four-beat gait in addition to the basic three.  It is an inherited trait. Some horses may be trained to gait, although they prefer to travel more naturally at a walk, trot and canter. Here’s a look at popular gaited breeds. .

  • 01 of 09
    Icelandic Horse doing Tolt
    Icelandic Horse doing Tolt. Image Credit:Tim Graham/Hulton Archive /Getty Images

     

    Icelandic Horses are sure-footed and sturdy. They tölt, and pace, in addition to walk, trot and canter. They easily carry an adult and are long lived. There are Icelandic breeders in Europe and the Americas, and it is possible to buy an Icelandic from breeders in Iceland. Once an Icelandic Horse leaves Iceland, it can not return.  

     

  • 02 of 09
    Black hoof of American Saddlebred shod with heavy, padded shoe
    Hooves on some American Saddlebred show horses are heavily shod to encourage high action. Image Credit:Kit Houghton/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    The American Saddlebred is perhaps one of the most popular gaited breeds. Much negative publicity has come from the abuses some trainers employ when training horses to compete in ‘Big Lick’ competitions where horses are forced to step in high, long exaggerated steps. But,  controversy aside, many owners appreciate their American Saddlebred’s sensible temperaments and natural ground-covering smooth gaits.

     

     

  • 03 of 09

    Paso Fino

    Two Paso Fino Horses in the snow.
    Paso Fino's adjusting to a more northern climate. Image Credit:Luc Novovitch/Photographer's Choice /Getty Images

    The Paso Fino is The Paso from the area of Puerto Rico and Colombia, and later, Cuba and other Caribbean countries. They are small but sturdy, and their physical appearance harks back to their Andalusia forbearers. These small, agile horses were developed to carry their riders over the rugged terrain of their island and coastal homes.

     

  • 04 of 09

    Peruvian Paso

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    Rider performing traditional horse moves called Peruvian Paso, Trujillo, Trujillo Province, Peru. Image Credit:Danita Delimont /Getty Images

    The Peruvian Paso has been declared a Cultural Heritage breed by the National Institute of Culture of Peru. Peru’s national horse has many fans. It is well known for it’s elegant carriage and smooth gaits.

     

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  • 05 of 09

    American Standardbred

    Standardbred racing horses on track.
    Standardbred racing horses on track. Image Credit:Barrett & MacKay/All Canada Photos/Getty Images

    The American Standardbred is most often regarded as a track star, and seen in harness. But, they make great riding horses too. Some are bred as trotting horses, but many still do single-foot. Pacers single-foot or amble and pace. Pacers are often considered more easy going than the trotters, who many people feel are more like Thoroughbreds in their temperament.

     

  • 06 of 09

    Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse

    Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
    This palomino Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse shows the strength, bone type and calm temperment of her breed. Image Credit: K. Blocksdorf

    The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse is somewhat smaller than some of the other North American gaited breeds. They’re also equally comfortable in harness, even though they’re called a saddle horse. They are known to be sure-footed and quiet tempered.

     

  • 07 of 09

    Tennessee Walking Horse

    Tennessee Walking Horse
    A profile of the head of a Tennessee Walking Horse. Ryan Courson Photography / Getty Images

     

    The Tennessee Walking Horse is an North American Breed. These horses were developed to give their riders a smooth ride as they tended acres of farmland. Walkers, with their smooth gaits are one of North America’s most popular breeds.

  • 08 of 09

    Mawari Horse

    A traditional Indian Mawari mare and her foal with unique pointy ears.
    A traditional Indian Mawari mare and her foal with unique pointy ears. Image Credit:Max Paddler/Gallo Images /Getty Images

    Once you see a Marwari Horse, you’re not likely to forget it. This leggy, elegant breed has sickle shaped ears. It’s also gaited. It’s a relatively rare breed, especially in North America. Dedicated breeders in India have done much to keep this unusual and ancient breed from disappearing.

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  • 09 of 09

    Other Breeds

    Appaloosas in Pasture
    Appaloosas can be gaited. Image Credit:Marilyn Angel Wynn/Nativestock/Getty Images

    Some individuals within breeds that are commonly regarded as non-gaited will gait naturally. These include the Morgan and Appaloosa and rarely, the Canadian. Mules and grade horses that have a gaited horse in their pedigree may gait naturally. Some pony breeds will also gait.