|Alabama 2 year old TWH ridden in LONG SHANK
bit and ENGLISH saddle in OPEN FIELD.
Question: Could anyone tell me the difference in the flatwalk and the rack
From Panelist Laura
The flatwalk is a slower version of the running walk. The flat walk is a
smooth 4-beat gait with the hind feet overreaching the front feet and the
head nodding in time to the placement of the hind feet. Some people say it
looks like the horse is trotting in the front and walking behind. This is a
collected gait (horse is rounded).
The rack is a 4-beat gait with more hock action than the flat/running
From Panelists Annette
Harold, you have asked one of those simple questions to which there is a very complicated and lengthy answer. Lee Ziegler is the expert in this area, and it is from her that I learned much of what I know about symmetrical gaits, although I do have my own wrinkles on what I learned from Lee. In particular, I recognize and define as a separate gait, one more gait in the walk based gaits, than Lee does.
The answer to your question lies in understanding the fundamental difference
between the walk based gaits and the rack based gaits. The walk based gaits
are the dog walk, flat walk, running walk, and what I term the collected
intermediate walk, that extra gait that I define and recognize. The rack
based gaits are the stepped rack, the half rack and the full rack. The
walk based gaits are all on two/three support, that is, the horse is has
It is often difficult, even for judges, to tell the difference between
a collected intermediate walk and one of the rack based gaits, the stepped
rack or half rack, because the ear is still hearing even footfalls. One
author, Stella Manberg, calls the stepped rack and half rack the "amble"
and many follow that usage, as I do. As Stella noted in an article on the
In the absence of a video cam that can be slowed to determine the support under the horse, the motions of the body of the horse have to be observed carefully to determine if the horse is in the collected intermediate walk or is instead ambling. There is more up and down motion at the shoulder and hindquarters when the horse is ambling. Sometimes ambling horses are called "shaky tails", as a result. The collected intermediate walk has a more "forward" appearance to it, whereas the ambling gait has a more "upright" or "up and down" appearance to it.
The short answer to your question is that the flat walk is among the walk based gaits with both even footfall and pickup timing, whereas the rack is among the rack based gaits, with even footfall, but uneven pickup timing. In a nutshell, pickup timing is the critical determinant between the walk based gaits and the rack based gaits, which is determined by the support system under the horse.
Hope that answers your question, and that it is understandable to you and the many others that are struggling with the differences among the symmetrical gaits.
Annette L. Gerhardt