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Gaited horses are horse breeds that have selective breeding for natural gaited tendencies, that is, the ability to perform one of the smooth-to-ride, intermediate speed, four-beat horse gaits, collectively referred to as ambling gaits.
Such breeds include the following:
In most "gaited" breeds, an ambling gait is a hereditary trait. However, some representatives of these breeds may not always gait. Conversely, some naturally trotting breeds not listed above may have ambling or "gaited" ability, particularly with specialized training. Many horses can both trot and amble, and some horses pace in addition to the amble, instead of trotting. However, pacing in gaited horses is often, though not always, discouraged. Some horses do not naturally trot or pace easily, they prefer their ambling gait for their standard intermediate speed.
A 2012 DNA study of movement in Icelandic horses, harness racing horse breeds, and mice, determined that a mutation on the gene DMRT3, which controls the spinal neurological circuits related to limb movement and motion, causes a "premature 'stop codon'" in horses with lateral ambling gaits. This mutation may be a dominant gene, in that even one copy of the mutated allele will produce gaitedness.