How To Ride Your Gaited Horse
Part VII The Fox Trot
© Beverly Whittington 2003


How To Ride GH Series
Part I Part II
Part III Part IV
Part V Part VI The Flat Walk
Part VII The Fox Trot
Part VIII The Rack
How to Ride the Fox Trot
Most all symmetrical gaits have the same sequence, or order of footfall. What makes them vary is the timing of footfall, the pick up and the support sequence. To recognize footfall start each gait at the set down of the right hind hoof. The sequence will then progress to right hind, right front, left hind, left front. 

The Fox Trot 
A correctly performed  fox trot will have a bit of a "pause" between beat 2 & 3. 1-2--3-4. This is because the hooves set down closer together in diagonal pairs than they do in lateral pairs, with the fore hitting just a bit before the diagonal hind. This makes the Fox Trot an uneven 4 beat gait, diagonal in timing. 
To begin let's look at the horse and rider configuration. 

The horse's back will be carried in a slight dorsiflexed position

The Horse

  • The horse will be in a slightly more dorsiflexed body frame in the Fox Trot compared to the Flat Walk or Running walk., but not to the extent required for a Trot. 
  • The croup will bob up and down in rhythm with the gait.
  • Overstride should increase from the walk, the degree will depend on speed and conformation of the horse, overreaching or disfiguring the front tracks.
  • Long, reaching step in front and a quicker, higher step in back, with the tail carriage of a horse bobbing when the rear foot passes the break over point. The movement of the front hoof should be smooth and set down as the completion of an extension of the shoulder and front leg. 
  • The head nod will be very noticeable with head motion in time with the reach of the rear hooves.
  • The horse should be moving in a rhythm which can be described as having the same cadence as "a chunk of meat and two potatoes".
The Rider
  • The rider's position should be in the base position, with the pelvis in the Neutral pelvic alignment, until you need to make adjustments that will influence the horse's gait.
The position of the rider puts their weight on the seatbones and buttocks, be sure you are not leaning forward. Take a slightly stronger than LIGHT CONTACT on the reins, to encourage the horse to bring the head more towards the vertical and raise his head. Simultaneously giving a "bump" with the calves slightly behind the girth. to ask the horse to "move out". Once the horse has achieved gait, the contact can return to LIGHT CONTACT with the hands held just above the cantle of the saddle. The horse's center of gravity should be to the rear. The slight up and down motion in the horse's hindquarters will push you forward and then back at the hips, rather than from side to side as in the regular walk. 
The average horse will do approximately 6-8 MPH in the Fox Trot. It is important that you do not push the horse past a speed where he can stay rhythmic and consistent in his gait. 

Female Pelvis, Base Position.

Rider in Base Position with Good Equitation for Fox Trot.

The horse who has already been trained to perform a correct Fox Trot will increase his reach and overstride, as well as the speed at which his legs move. You should hear a 1-2--3-4 cadence to the footfalls. The horse's head and neck will nod up and down in rhythm with the motion of his shoulders, back and legs, using his head as a counter balance to the movement in his croup with the saddle balanced at the pivot point. 

Increasing speed, reach and overstride at the Fox Trot
For a horse to increase his speed at a Fox Trot requires that he have a flexible and strong back to be able to take increasingly longer steps when pushed on for speed. It is therefore very important that you are not interfering with the horses use of his back

Sometimes it is necessary to encourage the horse to improve their Fox Trot. 
Suggested Reading 

Increasing Reach and Speed in the Flat Walk and Fox Trot Within a Fox Trot

Always make sure you are sitting in a balanced seat, allow your body to move with the horse, keeping your lower leg slightly behind the girth. Think of what it feels like to stand on the bow of a boat while you hold a glass of water in each hand. The waves cause a gentle rocking of the boat. Absorbing the waves in your hips and waist while your upper body remains quiet and your hands independent, keeps you from spilling the contents of the glass. This is similar to the feel of a Fox Trot in which a back to front rock in the saddle is felt by the rider, but the hands remain still but supple to aid the horse in  maintaining the rhythm and animation of the Fox Trot. Uneven rein contact and artificial “Pumping” of the rein can result in loss of impulsion. 


Increase Flexibility and Reach of Forehand
Increase Flexibility and Reach of Hindquarters
Shoulder In
Shoulder Out
Leg Yield
Half Pass
Rein Back
Rocking Horse
Other Articles of interest.
The Seat and getting the horse on the bit.

Achieving Response, Gait and Confidence through Relaxation

Rider Affect on the Horses Movement

MAKING CONTACT How to use a bit 


Exercises at the Walk

Conditioning a Horse to Gait

Equitation for Gaited Horses

Exercises for Increased Flexibility in Gaited Horses

The Seat and getting the horse on the bit.

Part I Part II Part III
Part IV Part V Part VI The Flat Walk
Part VII The Fox Trot Part VIII The Rack


Articles. like the one above, are made possible by the supporters of the Gaited Horses site, The Gaited Horse Gang.
If you liked what you read, or learned something, we ask that you help us to continue this resource online.
To Become a Gaited Horses Gang Member (Site Supporter) 
Choose the Level

Through PayPal
GHG Regular $30/yr  (about 8 cents a day)
Individual(s) who want to support our site as a resource online. 
Posting Privileges only on Forum after 75 posts.

Through PayPal
GHG Silver $50/yr  (about 14 cents a day)
Individual(s) who want to support our site as a resource online. 
Posting Privileges and Photo Posting Privileges. 

Through PayPal
GHG Gold $75/yr  (about 20 cents a day)
Individual(s) who want to support our site as a resource online and are helping with the expansion of the site. 
Posting Privileges and Photo Posting Privileges. 

Through PayPal
GHG Platinum $100/yr  (about 27 cents a day)
These are the backbone of our efforts to be the best and most through resource online for Gaited Horses!
Posting Privileges and Photo Posting Privileges. 
and THEN Fill out form below. 
OR Fill out Form Below and mail check.

All Fields with a * MUST be filled in.
*Forum User Name
*First Name

*Last Name
Amount you are sending

*Street Address


Check made out to:
Fairwind Webpages
P.O. Box 54
Waynesboro, Georgia 30830


To Be Continued...

We intend to get similar articles online,
so feedback at this stage is very important! SEND FEEDBACK


forcafepress How to Ride Gaited Horses is ready to order! This is the first in a series on methods, which WORK when riding Gaited Horses! This book covers all the information in the series online, giving you a means to "take it with you"! Makes a GREAT GIFT!

Click on the image of the front cover below for more information and to order!

How to Ride Your Gaited Horse (Paperback)

© Beverly Whittington
WebUse Copyright Gaited Horses
All rights reserved.
No material from this website may be copied or reused without
specific written permission from Gaited Horses.

BACK to List of Articles