The Walk of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse

The fox trotting horse is shown with as many variances in the walk as in the trot. Terms like fox-walk, trot-walk, running walk, and pace-walk, are used to describe the walk of many horses. The flat foot walk is not a broken gait nor is it a two-beat gait. The correct flat foot walk is a lateral four-beat gait of an even cadence.

There are several common mutations of the walk. The pace is a two-beat lateral gait in which a horse moves both right feet and then moves both left feet. In a pace the front and rear foot are picked up and then set down simultaneously making only one beat. A pacing horse will move its head side to side to counter the motion of its feet. The pace-walk is a lateral four-beat gait in which the horse will pick up both the front and rear foot simultaneously, then moves the rear foot faster than the front foot and sets the rear foot down before the front foot. This allows the pace-walker to have an up and down head shake, and have a four-beat cadence. The pace-walk is much closer to a flat foot walk than a pace, having both a head shake and a four beat cadence.

The fox-walk or trot-walk is also a four-beat gait with a head shake. In the trot-walk the horse appears to be trotting in slow motion the gait looks diagonal but may sound like a walk. Again the difference is on the timing, a trot-walking horse will have a snappy back end and will break over in the hocks and have a bounce in its tail.

A true flat foot walk is a lateral four-beat gait in which each foot is picked up and set down in an even cadence. The rear end movement should be smooth and close to the ground without any snap or pop. Each stride should reach forward and slide in as it is set down, over striding the track of the front foot. The tail should set still and flow. If the tail is moving from side to side, the horse is pacy. If the tail is bouncing, the horse is trotty. The front foot should move forward in a smooth motion and be set down as the completion of an extension of the shoulder and front leg. Horses that do not get a full extension of the leg and shoulder and have wasted up and down motion in the knees are said to be racky. The head shake is in time with the rear feet and should be smooth. Again all other things being equal the more head shake and over stride the better.

copyright © 1996 Rick Watson, Watson Stables