To understand the movement of horses it is important to be familiar with the particular terminology and the description of certain phases/forms in movements like speed, cadence etc. in the basic and gained gaits.

  1. Impulsion - results from the energy/impulse of the hind legs pushing-off the ground and the advancement of the hind legs. Brisk/lively and regular movement of the legs as well as the entire body is showing the impulsion in the individual gaits. From the horse is required to move in every gait and speed/tempo with adequate impulsion, which will guarantee the lightness of movement and flawless execution of a needed task.
  2. Cadence - is the legs interchange in particular/certain time intervals.
    Well-balanced horse will have relatively slow cadence and his gaits will be crisp and springy. For the slow cadence is important the longest possible time carrying period of the hind leg. A strong pushing-off, long advancement and prolonged carrying time of the hind leg causes free/relaxed/light, roomy and cadenced transition of the diagonal front leg. A horse that interchanges/alternates his legs quickly travels in a fast cadence and tires quicker.
  3. Action - describes the style/form that the legs exhibit during the time period when they are moving above the ground/in the air in reference to the height and roominess of the gait. The action depends on the structure of the legs, on the relative length ratio of the bones and the carrying time period of the hind leg. Various breeds and kinds of horses have their own special/certain action high, low, flat etc. (carriage horse has a high action as against the racehorse has low and flat action.
  4. Speed   is given by a distance, which the horse will travel in certain time in a particular gait. It is important to maintain the original cadence and change only the roominess and the action in the particular gait. (Example; passage - piaffe, long (extended) trot - school trot (speed is changing due to the change in action and the roominess/stride, while the cadence remain the same).
  5. Roominess/Stride - of a gait describes the length of the stepping out. The longer the stepping out the roomier the gait. This greatly depends on the pushing-off energy by the hind leg (impulsion), on the physical structure and on the capacity/ability to close and open the angles of the hind legs. A correct/proper advancement in training can achieve the maximal roominess/stride of the gaits.

Translated by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek from the 1953 Special Zoo-Technique - Breeding of Horses
Published in 1953 by the Czechoslovakian Academy of Agricultural Science and certified by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Written by: MVDr Ludvik Ambroz, Frabtisek Bilek, MVDr Karel Blazek, Ing. Jaromir Dusek, Ing. Karel Hartman, Hanus Keil, pro. MVDr Emanuel Kral, Karel Kloubek, Ing. Dr. Frantisek Lerche, Ing. Dr Vaclav Michal, Ing. Dr Zdenek Munki, Ing. Vladimir Mueller, MVDr Julius Penicka, pro. MVDr Emil Pribyl, MVDr Lev Richter, prof. Ing. Dr Josef Rechta, MVDr Karel Sejkora and Ing. Dr Jindrich Steinitz.