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What Gait is this horse performing?
At first glance, due to the when this photo was snapped in the gait sequence, many people mistake this to be performing a Trocha (a diagonal gait). In Trocha,  the diagonal pairs of hooves leave the ground and move forward together, but the front will hit noticeably before the hind of the pair. 

 
Understanding gait and being able to ascertain what gait the horse is doing in a photo can take some in-depth analysis of the footfall pattern.

LOOK at the foot fall pattern. It is hard to tell from a still what exactly is going to be the next phase of a gait

The Left front is slightly more than half way through its contact phase. The Rt. Hind is flat on the ground and almost at the very beginning of the weight bearing/thrust phase of its ground contact in the step. This means the gait is very close or exactly even set down. 

The Rt. front knee is just starting down. This hoof is the farthest from the ground of the four, and will not contact the ground again until the front that is currently in contact leaves the ground to start forward. 

Look at the lumbar span. It goes down from the point of rump to the functioning back. The horse is slightly ventroflexed. Look at the front end and see how the neck comes out of the shoulder in an upright position, the head carriage and the bulge on the underside of the neck (looking ewe) this says ventro back as well.

It is often easier to look at the hoof that has begun its weight bearing/thrust stage and ascertain which leg will contact the ground next. The (RT.) hind is at the earliest stage of any of the hoofs in contact with the ground. NOW ascertain which hoof will hit the ground next. The (RT.) front will make contact next, as it has already started towards the ground. Since the opposite hind (LFT) hoof is in the beginnings of its flight forward it will be next. The opposite (LFT)  front will then be last.

Gaits that derive from the walk, that is, all of the "easy" symmetrical gaits, have similar footfall sequences and support sequences.  Starting with the set down of the right hind hoof, they all follow this pattern: right hind, right front, left hind, left front.  Like the walk, most have the following support sequence:  Three hooves on ground (both hind, one front) two hooves on ground (diagonal, right hind, left front), three hooves on ground (both front, right hind) two hooves on ground (lateral right
hind, right front).  What differentiates them from one another is the timing of the lift off and set down of the hooves, and which legs work together in time to produce these timing differences.  This still was caught in the second support phase of the gait, but if you look at the angles of the legs in relation to one another to see which work together (or do not) the gait is not too hard to spot.  Although there are diagonal hooves on the ground, the diagonal legs do not move forward together which would make the gait either a trot or fox trot (trocha) (note the lines on each leg to see this).

Nor do the lateral legs move forward at the same time (which would make the gait a pace).  Instead, the legs appear to move forward slightly in time laterally (note the angles of the left legs, in relation to one another) but set down at even intervals (note the legs on the right side of the horse, the hind is flat on the ground, as the front nears it's highest point of lift off).  This puts the gait in the "lateral pick up, even set down" category.  The step is not very long, which eliminates the largo or fast stepped rack, since at that speed the stride length increases. That leaves two possibilities, the fino fino and the corto (both lateral pick up,
even set down gaits).  Since the horse appears to be moving forward and is taking a moderate step, the fino is eliminated --leaving a slightly lateral CORTO as the gait of the horse.

This makes the footfall pattern, Rt. Hind, Rt. Front, Lft Hind, Lft Front with very close to or exactly even set down.
Which is CORTO!

By Beverly Whittington
Thanks to Liz Graves and Lee Ziegler for proofing for clear explanation.
Thanks to Cathy Falconer for providing the photo of herself riding "Sombre" for this critique.
 
 

Paso Fino
Performing a Corto at medium speed.

Link to LARGE File of AVI of this same horse.
(hit back on the Browser to get back to this page after viewing)


 

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