Horses have got four distinct, natural gaits, walk, trot, canter, and gallop, each containing different rhythms and, of course, different speeds. Gaits are the ways in which horses move. The four kinds of gaits, walk, trot, canter, and gallop, have got different rhythms from each other, and they all have different motions and speeds, therefore the way of riding each of these gaits are different.
Walking, the slowest of the gaits, is the easiest to ride and the most comfortable to ride in. The walk, as with the gallop, has got four distinct beats; each of the legs goes down separately, one leg at a time. As this is the slowest of the gaits, it is the most comfortable to ride in and obviously the safest. It is also the least tiring for the horse, therefore allowing the horse to rest. The slowest of the gaits, walking is the easiest and most comfortable to ride in.
The trot is a slightly faster gait for the horse, it is quite a bumpy gait, and it requires a special way of riding. The trot has got a rhythm of two beats, and in each beat two legs (a front leg and the opposite sided back leg) go down at a time. This gait is probably the most uncomfortable of the gaits. Although your seat is quite bumpy in the trot and it can be difficult in the beginning to resist bouncing up and down, it is possible to remain seated in the trot. The most comfortable way to ride in the trot is to do rising trot; this is when you lift your weight out of the saddle on each alternate step so as to “avoid” the bounce. Although the trot, a slightly faster, bumpier gait, can be quite uncomfortable, it is possible to ride it quite comfortably.
The canter, a much faster gait, can be quite a fun ride and exhilarating experience. Although horses have got four legs, the canter has got an odd rhythm of three beats. It can be quite a comfortable seat and, once mastered, can be very exhilarating and enjoyable; the movement is very smooth. Along with the gallop, the canter can be quite dangerous, and higher speed means more chance of falling and losing control of the horse. A much faster gait, the canter can be quite a fun and exhilarating experience.
The gallop, the fastest and most dangerous of the gaits, should only be attempted by professionals. Although the gallop has got the same rhythm as the walk, it is much faster than the walk and any other gait. This gait can be very dangerous because, when “freaked out” or scared, the horse can sometimes go into gallop or buck, and when this happens you should try to go into a tight circle. In the gallop, the rider’s weight is almost always lifted out of the seat and the body leaning slightly forward, like in racing. The fastest of the gaits, the gallop is only really for professionals.
Walk, trot, canter, and gallop are the four natural gaits that horses have, each have different rhythms and speeds. All the gaits are different. Walk is the slowest gait, and gallop is the fastest. Trot, the most uncomfortable, and walk, the most comfortable.