A gaited horse can move each of its legs independently of one another, which enables them to maintain a smooth and steady pace. The stable pace of a gaited horse makes for a fun and comfortable ride that anyone can appreciate, especially those with back problems or who ride horses every day. Not all horses are gaited, though, and in fact, only a small percentage of horse breeds are naturally gaited. Here are gaited horse breeds that should not be overlooked.
The 13 Gaited Horse Breeds
1. The American Saddlebred Horse
These horses are most popularly used in parades because of their striking beauty and solid gait. The American Saddlebred is large and sturdy, with a shiny smooth coat and bright, alert eyes. They have an elegant gait that displays grace and independence. Their athletic build and forward ears make them seem a bit intimidating, but they are typically friendly and social animals that do not mind the company of human companions.
American Saddlebreds can weigh up to 1,200 pounds when they are fully grown and can come in a variety of colors, including white, brown, black, grey, and palomino. These intelligent animals can control their speed expertly and provide a smooth, almost flawless ride even on uneven or rocky surfaces.
2. The American Standardbred Horse
The American Standardbred is an action-packed racehorse. Their high stamina levels and efficient work drive make them successful in races, and their intelligence and eagerness to please make them excellent companion animals. These horses can reach an impressive 68 inches in height and can weigh up to 1,200 pounds when mature.
3. The Peruvian Paso Horse
Bred to work hard, the Peruvian Paso is a grand horse that stands tall and proud. These horses are known for their extreme endurance and ability to keep moving through harsh terrain. The Peruvian Paso has a super smooth gait, with little left-to-right transitioning or bounce. Riders can enjoy time on one of these horses without requiring much stirrup work or worrying about getting a sore butt.
Chestnut and bay are the most popular colors, but these horses can be born with any color of hair. Some have white markings on their heads, but most are solid colored. The sensitive nature of these horses makes them easy to bond with, and their affectionate personality makes them fun to spend time with.
4. The Icelandic Horse
This horse breed landed in Iceland with the first settlers and has been there ever since. They are known for their loving nature and curious temperament, which drives them to be interactive and cooperative when dealing with human companions. They have thick, dense hair to keep them warm during the frigid Icelandic winter months.
5. The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
Those looking for an even, gentle ride would love being on a Kentucky Mountain Saddle horse, as they were bred just for their gliding gait. They are also known for their calm personality that is easy to work with and their capability of working the farm fields and hauling supplies across mountainous regions.
Although they have been around for hundreds of years, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle did not become popular until the 1980s. These horses are easy to train and make great competition animals. They can grow to be more than 60 inches tall and weigh more than 1,000 pounds once they become fully grown.
6. The Mangalarga Marchador Horse
This is a Brazilian riding horse that displays four different types of gaits, from a slow walk to a trot. With this breed living all around the world (more than 500,000 live in Brazil alone!), the Mangalarga Marchador is one of the most popular riding horses in existence. These are medium-sized horses with silky hair and muscular, sturdy bodies.
7. The Morgan Horse
As one of the first breeds credited to development in the United States, the Morgan horse not only has a gentle gait, but they can also compete with the best of them in the show ring. They are intelligent, talented, patient, and even-tempered, which makes them excellent for beginning riders.
Morgan horses can do more than show in the ring, though. They are commonly used as trail mounts by farmers and horseback-riding businesses, and they are also used to work farmlands because of their strong, sturdy build. Many people keep Morgans simply as companion animals. These are usually dark-colored horses, though no official colors are attributed to them.
8. The Missouri Fox Trotter Horse
The Missouri Fox Trotter was developed in the 19th century by folks in the Ozark mountains. They were bred using both stock and gaited horses. The result of breeding was a strong horse that could maneuver the harsh mountains while providing a smooth experience for riders. They can plow farm fields, work with cattle, and even pull trailers for hayrides.
9. The Marwari Horse
This rare horse breed hails from the Rajasthan region of India. The Marwari horse is slim yet muscular and has extremely shiny hair that is soft to the touch. Their ears are erect and alert, their eyes wide and bright, and their muzzles long and slender. These horses are a bit slower than many other breeds because their stride is shorter, but this does not affect the smooth ride that they offer.
Being desert horses, these animals can survive on surprisingly little food when necessary. These horses have gorgeous thick manes and tails that when grown out, help protect them from the weather elements. Marwari horses have thin skin and require careful daily grooming to keep them clean and healthy.
10. The Tennessee Walking Horse
These horses are known for their unique run-walk movement and confident stance. They were developed for farm work but have since become popular riding and companion horses throughout the United States. Their gentle personality and independence make them easy to work within the training ring. They are fun to ride on using both English and Western riding equipment.
11. The Racking Horse
This horse’s name is derived from their gait, called the rack, in which only one foot makes a move on the ground at any given time. These are pretty horses with long manes and tails. They look elegant when they walk, and their calm demeanor keeps them from getting skittish while around large groups of people.
The Racking horse is light on their feet but can handle hauling considerable amounts of weight when necessary. Their toned bodies and long necks give them a regal look that is hard to ignore. These animals usually come in solid colors, including white, brown, black, grey, bay, cream, and champagne. However, some may display white or black markings
12. The Walkaloosa Horse
The Walkaloosa has a well-defined body with a straight back, a large slim head, and alert eyes and ears. They are great at jumps, competitive riding, and participating in show rings. This is an old horse breed that is not as common as most others on this list but is still well respected by horse enthusiasts around the world.
13. The Florida Cracker Horse
Many people have never heard of the Florida Cracker horse, as they’re a rare breed. This small horse is easy to mount and learn to ride. They are hard-working and high spirited, which makes them great at herding cattle. Their smooth gait and patience with humans make them awesome riding horses too.
While Florida Cracker horses can be any color, they are commonly born with solid grey or black coats. There are only a few of these horses in existence today, but many breeders are working to restore the breed so they can flourish on farms throughout the country again. Unfortunately, this breed is susceptible to various health problems, such as hyperthermia and periodic paralysis.
Not all the horses on this list can be found in the United States or are easy to obtain no matter where they exist (there are many rare horse breeds), but it is still good to know about these breeds so similar options that are easier to obtain can be identified. Every gaited horse is unique and interesting in their own way, but the one thing that they have in common is their ease of riding. Have you had the pleasure of riding any of these gaited horse breeds before? Are you interested in riding any of them now?
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