Through the Paces
by Elizabeth Graves
Understanding a true pace
is very easy, the difficulty comes in understanding all the possible phases
before a true 2 beat pace.
Most are familiar with terms
What do they all mean?
I will try to clarify some of theses for you. Sometimes the faster moving
hoof can make these difficult to identify to an untrained eye.
is a True Pace
The gait of pace is a 2 beat
gait, 1-2. It is lateral in PICKUP of the legs on the same side and lateral
in the SET DOWN of the same two legs. The horse will shift from side to
side alternating lateral pairs forward and then back. At very fast speeds
of pace such as seen in harness racing, one can see the four hooves clear
of the ground in suspension as the horse jumps from lateral pairs. The
slower the speeds of pace the suspension disappears and the hooves may
not set down exactly at the same time with the hind setting down just before
the fore on the same side but is still very hard to see. In a stepping
pace it is very easy to see the hind set down before the same side fore.
These other variations are a broken pace but still closer to a 2 beats
in set down than the broken pace of stepping pace.
Other 2 Beat Gait
The trot is also a 2 beat
gait, 1-2. The difference in the gait of trot is that the diagonal pairs
are working together.
Right hind, left fore
Left hind, right fore
Again as in pace there is
a shift of weight and suspension of all 4 hoofs clearing the ground but
it is shifting between diagonal pairs instead of lateral pairs.
The term lateral can be
used in two different elements for definitions of gait timing.
1. Lateral pick up Gaits
2. Lateral in set down Gaits
Pace Broken paces , variations
( including stepping pace)
Flying pace of Icelandic horse
of lateral pick up with a broken 4 beat set down
It is the gaits that are
closer in lateral set down (not pick up) than the stepping paces broken
4 beat set down that brings forth the meaning of swingy or pacey in gait.
These are gaits that are just broken out of 2 beats but not quite the very
definable stepping pace where one can see the hind set down prior to the
fore on the same side and hear the broken timing of 1-2--3-4.
A horses can be or start
getting pacey at any speed. There are pacey walks too pacey racks and so
on. A horse can be genetically inclined to pace or trained toward pace.
A horse can pace in a high head position or low head position but both
have either a very ventroflexed back to a slightly hollow back. Both types
will move their back muscles from side to side, while the up head and necked
horse will be tighter in their movement the low head and necked horse will
be loose in the back muscle movement but still using one side of the back
muscles and then the other when shifting to lateral pairs.
In the following pictures
are examples of gaits going lateral in set down and some not, to compare
The first picture is a clear
picture of a walk the next 2 are the marked up versions of the walks.
photo A we can see that this is a true 4 beat walk. This horses is picking
up each hoof at a separate time and setting down at a separate time.
In this phase of the hoof fall sequence we see the left hind has set down
before the left fore.The right fore leg is perpendicular at its full
weight bearing phase and the right hind is still bearing weight with the
hoof flat on the ground but will be picking up and moving forward before
the right fore. The legs are moving independently of each other,
not moving forward or back together.
this photo we can see that the legs on the left side of the horse are working
together going back. This is not a hard pace in that it is not 2 beats
through a full gait phase. You can see that the right hind has just barley
set down prior to the right fore but it is closer to a 2 beat pace than
a 4 beat broken stepping pace in that the left hind is not just starting
to lift off from the ground but has actually cleared the ground and is
about to come forward. As the right fore touches the ground the left fore
will be off the ground and back as will the left hind is still off the
ground. This will cause weight to be bearing on the right side of the horses
briefly. As the left side legs are lifting off together and coming forward
the left hind will touch down just barley before the left fore. This makes
this gait a lateral or pacey walk.