Walk

    The walk is the most important gait of the horse, because this gait stresses/exhausts the horse the least, hence he endures in it longer. The heavy coldblooded horses are able to endure work only in walk (hence not suitable for anything else but heavy draft). The walk is the horse’s slowest gait and is the least tiring; by increasing the speed/tempo the tiring is fast.

(In the numeric description of the legs sequences in all gaits, the hind legs are displayed as the initiation of the movement since they are the source (motor) of the horse's traveling/moving forward motion).



(4)    (2)

(3)    (1)

The numeric sequence in regular walk

(2)    (1)

(2)    (1)

The numeric sequence in irregular walk (pace)

The Spanish Walk,
with no initiation of the hind legs, which is here clearly visible. No to mention unsuitable horse for riding, extremely overweight in the front.

    In the walk, the hindquarters are shifting/pushing regularly the body forward by interchanging activity of the hind legs, the front legs then interchangeably catching/supporting the body and in the heavy draft with lowering and straightening helping in the pull.

    During the walk, the body mostly rests on two diagonal legs, but in a slow walk there is a moment where the body will rest on three legs.

    The horse is setting down all four legs in sequel and separated time intervals; hence we can hear four hoof-beats. The legs follow in this sequence: right hind – right front, left hind – left front etc. hence the movement is lateral with four separated shift/steps of the legs (four hoof beats).

    The desirable walk is: clean (regular following of the legs), impulsion-full (light, easy, lively stepping out), roomy (long steps) and sure (not stumbling).

    One of deviation of the above described walk is so-called pace, where the legs on one side are stepping out simultaneously. The right hind with the right front, then left hind with the left front, thus we hear only two hoof beats. This deviation is often seen in horses that are overworked, nervous and also often by trotters and horses of Arabian origin, it was/is also bred in some countries. (The so called fifth gait is nothing else but out of rhythm/timing crippled up fast walk which is very tiring, uncomfortable and abusive to the horse. It is also great misinformation; that for example the Paso Fino horses can endure in their broken down walk long distances. Such broken down gaits will also cause the stiffening up of the horse’s body (mainly the back), which many non-horseman/non-riders consider as a “smooth gait”. Any stiff (sore in back) horses will seem/feel to the non-rider/horseman smooth. More on this issue later.)

    The so-called Spanish Walk (pas espagnol) is circus way trained (whipped) and exaggerated lifting of the front legs almost to a horizontal level. The action of the hind end is barely noticeable and is not in harmony with the action of the front legs. This has nothing in common with the classical (Spanish High School) or the campagne riding and training.

    The undesirable "qualities" in the walk are: unclean (irregular following of the legs), short (short steps), heavy-landing (without impulsion and with big effort), unsure (stumbling), false-stepping or fore-stepping (one hind makes a longer step than the other hind leg), pace (fifth gait, running walk or what ever it may be called).

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.