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What does gaited horse mean? Gaited Horse Breeds

What does gaited horse mean? Gaited Horse Breeds

Introduction to the gaited horse breeds

Gaited horses have consistently stirred up the interest of general equestrians. They were the most famous horses of the time when horses were considered the only mode of transport. The reason for their demand is their smooth gaits and easier rides due to which people could ride too long distances without being tired so they are best for the people with joint pain issues. Read on to learn what precisely is a gaited horse breed

A horse that carries out a footfall style outside the typical walk, jog, run, trot, or lope is gaited. Moreover, if a horse single foots, strolls, paces, tolts, or does a running walk or rack, it is considered to be ‘gaited’. The term “gaiting” is used for the horse that single-foots which means their one foot remains in touch with the ground and moves each leg independently. When they remain one foot on the ground, it allows the horse to preserve energy for long rides in contrast to trotting.

As a matter of fact, a gaited horse moves as an ordinary horse does at a walk, it puts each of the four feet down autonomously, the thing that matters is in the upper paces, the following speed for a running horse is a trot, and for a gaited horse it is only a brisk walk.

Although gaited horses are naturally gaited, some breeds can be taught to be gaited. In some breeds, the gaiting trait is transmitted to their DNA, which results in naturally gaited babies. 


They are strong and sensible and don’t demand too much from their riders. Gaited horses have extraordinary stamina and tolerance. Some gaited horses have their heads laid on their shoulders instead of their back. They are appraised for pleasure riding.

What makes them gaited horses?

Research conducted in 2012 showed that the ambling gaits of these horses are because of a dominant gene known as DMRT3. This gene deals with the circuits of neurons that run along the spinal cord and takes part in limb movement. 

Do you want to know about gaited horse breeds?

There are a total of around 350 breeds of horses and approximately only 30 are naturally gaited breeds. Some of the most popular gaited horse breeds have been mentioned below;

American Saddlebred:

This horse breed belongs to the United States. This is an elegant and athletic breed and a great pick for beginners. These horses are typified by long arched necks along with short and strong backs. High-stepping action is included in its distinguished features. They brighten any place with their appealing looks. The stylish American Saddlebred horses are 15-17 hands tall and generally used in parades. Racking is a lateral gait included in their five gaits.

Peruvian Paso:

Peruvian horse is referred to as a breed of light saddle horse that is famous for its hassle-free ride and distinguished carriage. This breed has been nominated as a cultural heritage breed of Peru. They have a deep chest and low tail movement. Their size is 14-15 hands. They are docile and good for those riders who want to learn horse riding. Peruvian Paso is distinguished by Paso llano, which is the name of its natural lateral gait. These horses are used for endurance and pleasure rides and horse shows.  

gaited horse breeds


Icelandic horses:

This horse breed evolved in Iceland. They are smaller in size than other horse breeds, just 12-14 hands tall, even sometimes they are called ponies but they are not ponies indeed. Icelandic horses are beautiful creatures. This is quite a strong breed that can withstand harsh weather conditions. Moreover, they are long-lived horses. They have long backs and wooly fur. The most marked feature of this breed is its natural five gaits which are only present in this breed of horses.

gaited horse breeds


Tennessee walking horse:

This horse breed of gaited horses comes with a distinctive four-beat running walk and is also known as “walkers”. They are considered the official horses of the state. Tennessee walking horses are said to be the most famous breed of North America and are popular riding horses for their calm temperament and smooth gait. Basically, this breed had been grown with the intention of riding and farm work. They have a long head and a straight body shape.

Tennessee Walking Horse - Knowledge Base 

Marwari horse:

This is a breed of ancient royal horses belonging to the Marwar region located in Rajasthan, India. It is also called the Malani horse breed. These horses were used in wars for hundreds of years. They are the best for competitive dressage and are also known as “Polo Horses”. They have distinctive sickle-shaped ears, glowing nostrils, arched necks, beautiful eyes with long lashes, and small hooves. They are limited in number outside India.

gaited horse breeds

Appaloosa Horse:  

It is an American breed of horses that was initially known as “Palouse horses”, a name given by the settlers. This breed is popular for colorful and spotty coats. They have a similar running walk like a Tennessee walking horse. This breed has an extensive range of body types that were derived from the impact of different breeds in its history. They are 14.2-16 hands tall.

gaited horse breeds

Paso Fino:

This is a naturally gaited horse breed of gentle horses with a passive temperament. These horses had been imported from Spain and brought to the Caribbean. They are known for their smooth gait and are commonly used for trail riding. However, they are not good for learners because of forwarding rides. The Paso Fino horse is very attached to its master. They are long-living horses with a life span of 30 years. It is significant to know that some Paso fino horses live up to 40 years too.

Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse:

This breed is a kind of new horse breed that belongs to Kentucky, a state of the United States. These horses are also known as “kids horses” as they have a gentle personalities. They have a flat facial figure and are even-tempered. Their natural gait is called a rack which is a four-beat gait. It is very favorable for those riders who have to travel long distances as a rider can sit static on it even at the fastest speed. They can live up to 40 years.

Morgan horses:  

These horses are known as one of the oldest horse breeds evolved in the US. Morgan horses are quite intelligent and kind with outstanding compatibility and structure. They are great for beginner riders. They contain a thick mane, short head, and a thick tail with straight and strong legs, yet they are considered stylish horses. Morgans live for a longer period of time if they are well looked after.

Morgan horses

American Standardbred:

This gaited horse breed was evolved in North America and is known worldwide. These horses are considered a leader in harness races. However, this breed is also best for riding as they are very adaptable. American Standardbred horses are quite healthy, efficient, and have excellent stamina that they can run for a long time. Pacing and trotting are the two unique gaits of this breed. 

Rocky Mountain Horses:

This horse breed was developed in the US in the Appalachian Mountains rather than rocky mountains. These horses are easy-going and are recognized for their gentleness and calm temperament. They come in solid colors. They are sure-footed and have a four-beat gait. Rocky Mountain horses are best for competitive riding. However, they can’t learn trotting or cantering. 

Aegidienberger horse

This breed of gaited horses is a result of crossbreeding between the Peruvian Paso and Icelandic horses in Aegidienberg, Germany in the late 20th century. So, that’s why they are known as Aegidienberger horses and were acknowledged as a gaited breed in 1994. 

This is a small gaited horse breed but relatively bigger than those of Icelandics. These horses have great stamina like Icelandic horses with an additional advantage of height for their buyers. Moreover, they can perform tölt naturally like Icelandics that makes them one of the best riding partners. 

Campeiro horses

This breed was declined from horses of Spanish and Portuguese stock and then brought to Brazil in the 16th century. Campeiro is a breed of relatively small and strong horses. These horses are also included in gaited horse breeds because of their ambling gait. However, they have a faster gait than the trot. These horses have a wide muscular chest with an arched back.

Campeiro horses are even now bred by the Brazilian farmers to use them in various farm activities. They are also good riding partners and are also used in competitions.  

Campolina horses

Campolina breed was named after its breeder “Cassiano Campolina”. He was a farmer by profession and crossbred a mare of Barb blood with an Andalusian horse in 1870 on his farm. This is the largest breed of three-gaited breeds of common horses in Brazil and was developed for farm activities, sports, and other riding purposes. These horses have a size of 15-16 hands and are known for their distinctive convex nose. The horses of this breed are found in many colors.

Florida Cracker Horse

This breed of gaited horses originated in Florida, the USA while tracks down its ancestry to Spanish horses which were imported to Florida in the 1500s. These saddle horses are also known as “Cracker horses”. Additionally, these horses have many other names. They are extremely strong and small in size as compared to other horses ranging from 13.2 – 15.2 hands while 700 to 1000 pounds in weighing. 

Florida Cracker Horses were considered the first livestock of Florida. They were quite useful in fieldwork. 

Kathiawari horse

This is a sturdy Indian gaited horse breed that belonged to Kathiawar Gujarat, a region located in Western India so it can withstand harsh environments. This breed got its name from this region. Most of the horses of the Kathiawari breed are offspring of the royal horses. 

  Kathiawari horses were basically reproduced as war horses of the desert because of their strength and endurance so they can be used for riding long distances on tough terrain. They come with inward bend ears, short backs, small heads, and various colors except for black. 

Mangalarga Marchador

This breed of gaited horses belongs to Brazil and is recognized as the national horse of Brazil. It is commonly called a Brazilian horse and immensely famous for its unique gaits which makes it the best riding partner for long days. Additionally, this versatile breed has notable significance in the economy of Brazil.  Other than Brazil, its breeders are found in the USA. It is one of the most innumerable breeds of gaited horses across the world and is even considered an ideal family horse. 

Messara horse

They are also known as Cretan Horses as they are found in the Crete Island located in Greece. The people of Crete named it Messara Horses too because they initially originated in the Messara Plain of Crete. This is the earliest breed of gaited horses based in Greece and is believed to be the most former breed of horses across Europe.

They are quite sturdy horses with great stamina and endurance to withstand the Crete climate. However, this ancient breed of horses is almost extinct even though just 100 horses are left. 

Missouri Fox Trotter

This breed was produced by habitants of Ozark Mountains and took the name of its affiliated state “Missouri” located in the US. These horses quickly evolved into gaited horses because of their smooth gait and calm temperament. Their distinctive gait is “Fox Trot” which means the horse uses its front feet to walk and uses its rear feet to trot. The breed took its name “Missouri Fox Trotter” from this characteristic. Moreover, this horse is also suitable for children and beginners of any age.  

Nordestino horses

These are the first horses that are domesticated to the Northeast area of Brazil so also known as Northeastern horses. They had been developed from the horses that were imported by the habitants of the Portuguese. The horses of this breed can withstand harsh hot climates and are habitual of feeding scarce water and low-quality plants. 

This breed is also about to go extinct because people are moving to the advanced breeds of the horses and don’t regard them anymore. These horses are used in farm work today.

North American Single-Footing Horse

This breed originated in the Southern US and is recognized distinctively among all other gaited horses because of its lightweight and “single foot” four-beat gait. Single foot means horse raises and puts down each of its feet separately. This also falls under the ambling gait category. They are also known as just “Single footing horses”.

They are bred, developed, and used by trail travelers and are capable of executing other peasant riding gaits too. They possess good confirmation and appealing looks. 

Pampa Horse

This breed belongs to Brazil and integrates the structural characteristics of other Brazilian gaited horses. Basically, the pampa horse was derived from the animals imported to South America in the 16th century.  They are known for the white pattern on their coats. They come with large eyes and a well muscular body. Pampa horses are quite obedient and have a willing temperament. They are popular for being used in multiple activities like pleasure riding, sports, and working. 

Racking Horse

This horse breed was developed from Tennessee Walking Horse and belongs to the US. Racking horse breeders made its registry established in 1971 in the Horse Breeders Association of America. They are known for their distinctive single foot four-beat gait. This breed took its name from the type of walk they perform that is called “racking”. Racking is included in one of the ambling gaits. The fast Racking horses can both walk smoothly and slowly like Tennessee Walking horses and go as fast as you want. 

Spotted Saddle Horse

This breed came into existence in the United States by crossbreeding of Spanish-American pinto with a gaited horse and the outcome was a colorful spotted saddle horse with a smooth ambling gait. These horses are good for pleasure riding, show ring, and trail riding. They have a big heart, attractive appearance, and kind temperament, which is the reason for their distinction. Additionally, they are recognized only by the pinto pattern on their coats and are best suited for all age levels. 

Walkaloosa horses

Walkaloosa horse is a purely US breed that is developed by crossbreeding of an Appaloosa and any other type of gaited horse like Paso Fino etc. They are also called Appaloosa Horses and are known for their ambling gait in addition to the trot with Appaloosa coloring and spotted pattern. Their smooth gait and calm temperament make them the best riding partner. Moreover, they are also used in dressage and competitions. Their size range is 14-15.2 hands. The Walkaloosa Horse Association was established in 1983.

Facts about gaited horse breeds.

  • A gaited horse is more competent than a non-gaited horse because non-gaited horses waste their energy in confronting gravity. 
  • These horses give a smooth ride because of this efficiency. 
  • Each gaited horse breed has a distinguished gait for which they are best acclaimed. 
  • The speed of each horse breed is different at different gaits. For example, their running walk speed is 15mph.
  • Gaited horses generally show a calm temperament and offer very comfortable rides. 
  • The ambling gait of the gaited horses is a genetic trait. 

What are the benefits of hoof boots for a gaited horse?

The hoof boots provide excellent safety to gaited horses. But before choosing a hoof boot, you always need to make sure that your horse is relaxed, active, and comfortable at the same time. These shoes have additional shock-absorbing pads to compete against friction and avert rubbing. They are made of flexible material which provides protection on all sorts of terrains and makes your horse feel comfortable. 

There are a number of hoof boots of various brands, among which scoot boots are the best suited for gaited horses. They are very lightweight boots and have good resistance. so they don’t interrupt any type of gait. Thus, the scoot boots are excellent for trail rides


To sum up, gaited horses are defined by unique ambling gaits that are natural to the breed. Their ambling gaits are speedy than a walk but slower and steady than a canter. Gaited horse trainers may train non-gaited horses but obviously natural and artificially trained gaits will have some differences. We have tried to mention all popular gaited horse breeds and some information about them. We hope you would like this informative article and will try to find more gaited breeds across the world.