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By Liz Graves
The fox trot seems to be an easy gait for people to identify. Understanding what the elements are that make up this unique gait tends to be difficult for people to explain or verbalize.
The last 25 years has seen changes and variations of the fox trot that has added a new confusion. The gait of fox trot is to be smooth and comfortable to the rider, efficient and without stress to the well conditioned horse. When evaluating the new age fox trot "show gait"; the riders are often seen bouncing in the saddle taking more concussion to the body while the horse is moving unbalanced. The efficient relaxed, easy elements of the fox trot are being replaced by the desire for speed and more of the animation elements of the gait such as:
A true fox trot is a 4 beat gait with a bit longer hold between beat 2 & 3. 1-2--3-4. It is an uneven 4 beat gait in that the diagonal hooves hit the ground closer together with the fore hitting just a bit before the diagonal hind. In the new age gait the timing can be very close to 2 beats of the trot which the diagonals pick up and set down even closer together.
HOOF FALL SEQUENCE
The start of any cycle for determining sequince is when the right hind
lands on the ground. In the fox trot it is right hind, right fore, left
hind, left fore. Remember this hoof fall sequence
does not make this a lateral gait as the hooves are picking up and setting
down at separate times.
This is just the sequence not the timing.
The defination of timing is the amount of time that has lapsed between
hoof falls. The
reason that the foxtrot has been defined as a broken diagional gait is
that people seeing the broken diagonal setdown.
WEIGHT BEARING SEQUENCE
A, 3 hooves (2 hind, 1 fore)
The importance of the weight bearing sequence above is that it maintains
the weight shifts for balance of the horse. This reduces concussion
from the hooves through the body of the horse, creating a smooth fox trotting
One cycle of a support sequence starts when the right hind is on the ground and finishes when the right hind comes off the ground.
In the animation below I have drawn a very slow fox trot, just out of a flatwalk. I chose the slowest to show all the 9 possible support phases in this gait. These 9 support phases gives maximum support , balance and least concussion to the horse , just not the faster speed , added reach and length of stride. A faster fox trot can still be smooth until pushed to a point that the weight bearing hooves are changed. The closer one pushes a horse toward a 2 beat diagonal the rougher the gait becomes and in some cases actually rougher than a 2 beat trot.
Left Hooves Right Hooves
In closing there are several variations of fox trots being executed that can now be seen within the fox trotter breed. With the examples shown above one can get a better understanding of what these variations can be and in some cases you will have to be very quick of eye to see the differences . Looking at a rider and how little or how much movement they are making in the saddle. This can give you a good idea to look for a specific variation in the gait of fox trot.
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