Horse Steps, Strides, Gaits and Paces

Horse Steps, Strides, Gaits and Paces

Do you remember how complicated it was learning about horse steps, strides, paces and gaits?

Just when you thought that horses could walk, run and gallop you learned that when horses ran it was called trot and somewhere in there was canter. Great, now you know the four natural gaits of the horse, or are they called paces?

So you consult your trusty horse book only to find that horses have… wait a sec, the other trusty horse book said there were four natural paces of the horse and now this one has included stepping backwards.

You read a little more and find that a horse has steps in the walk and trot and strides in the canter and gallop. Is that right? In human terms a step is putting one foot in front of the other and a stride is a longer decisive step. Yet the stride in horse terms is a single coordinated movement of all four legs.

What do you do when horse books contradict each other?

Talk to horse people from different areas or different countries and they will always have different meanings for the same or similar words or the same meaning for different words.

If you are confused about halters and head-collars, coronets and coronary bands as well as competition rules in different equine disciplines then think about the many instructions that are given when learning to ride.

Once you have the basics on confidence, balance and control then think about the ways there are to continue to improve your ability and your relationship with your horse.

Although there are many variations even within the English language of how to ride, handle and care for horses and countless variations when you consider other languages spoken, there is one thing that doesn’t change amongst real horse people though… “the fundamental desire to improve the quality of the relationship between human ad horse”.

When some-one uses terminology that you don’t agree with or uses a different training method to one you would normally use, have a look to see what they are in the process of achieving.

If they are achieving a better relationship with their horse, challenge yourself to see if you can use their methods to achieve the same or better result.

Happy Riding




  1. Shirley Everingham says:

    These articles have been very interesting. There is always something different with each horse and rider.

  2. Jolene Bounday says:

    Lots of useful and handy information 🙂 thanks

  3. Debra Street says:

    Hi i am new to this study course, I find the horse industry and all the horse people that i have come across since i got my horses very contradictory of each other. I have been told do this and don’t do that and then next person says complete opposite. In saying this as a beginner to the horse industry at any stage it makes a very confusing hobby or business. loved the article it made sense.

  4. Wow, that was really informative and held a lot of knowledge. Excited to read more different articles

  5. chelsea Blucher says:

    interesting article 🙂

  6. Learning about paces while riding made it much easier for me to understand rather than reading it on a page

  7. I learnt all this from actually riding it was fun, as I struggle to learn from books and reading, I have a tough time at school but when comes to animals I find it easy to learn most of the time as I am interested in them and love them, when doing practical stuff I am a fast learner. I got my first horse quit young and I was the only person that could handle him, as he was beaten and he only trusted me,so I learnt to ride on him then I decided to go to pony club and I started to do shows. At first he was afraid of everything then I got him to be a winning show horse. Now he is with a new family with a little girl teaching her things he taught me.

  8. Mia Doering says:

    Wow! What a great article!

  9. Wow. Had no clue that there was so much science behind it.

  10. there are so many techniques of training horses and how you yourself handles these beautiful creature. everyone has their own ways but none are which entirely wrong just some people dont agree on.

  11. Within the horse industry there are many different point of views and methods of handling and training horses, by observing and learning different methods you are able to strengthen your relationship and ability and knowledge around horses.

  12. Liv Burton says:

    The relationship with your horse is probably one of the most important things to have/do before even ridding your horse. you need the bond before you can start controlling.

  13. William Abbott says:

    The language of the equine industry covers many languages and different perspectives for the purpose of the equine in their environment, the most important of all is to listen to the one that cant talk to you at all (the horse). Learning to be quiet enough to hear your horse and wise enough to accept the knowledge from others with greater experience than you.

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