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This article is about the horse gait. For the Korean music genre, see Trot (music). For other meanings, see Trot (disambiguation).
The trot

The trot is a two-beat diagonal gait of the horse where the diagonal pairs of legs move forward at the same time with a moment of suspension between each beat. It has a wide variation in possible speeds, but averages about 8 miles per hour (13 km/h). A very slow trot is sometimes referred to as a jog. An extremely fast trot has no special name, but in harness racing, the trot of a Standardbred is faster than the gallop of the average non-racehorse, and has been clocked at over 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).

From the standpoint of the balance of the horse, the trot is a very stable gait and does not require the horse to make major balancing motions with its head and neck. [1] Due to its many variations, the trot is a common gait that the horse is worked in for dressage.

Eadweard Muybridge was the first to prove, by photography, in 1872 that there is a "moment of suspension" or "unsupported transit" during the trot gait.


Jog trot
Collected trot
Working trot
Medium trot
Extended trot
Racing trot

Depending on the amount of engagement and collection of the horse, the trot can generally be classified as "working", "collected", or "extended". By the rhythm, one may distinguish a true, two-beat square trot when each diagonal pair of hoofs hits the ground at the same moment from a four-beat intermediate ambling gait, such as the fox trot or the "trocha" sometimes seen in the Paso Fino.

Different speeds and types of trots are described by the following terms:

Haute Ecole variations on the trot[edit]


Two variations of the trot are specially trained in advanced dressage horses: the Piaffe and the Passage. The Piaffe is essentially created by asking the horse to trot in place, with very little forward motion. The Passage (rhymes with "massage") is an exaggerated slow motion trot. Both require tremendous collection, careful training and considerable physical conditioning for a horse to perform.[3]

Riding technique[edit]

Depending on the horse and its speed, a trot can be difficult for a rider to sit because the body of the horse actually drops a bit between beats and bounces up again when the next set of legs strike the ground. Each time another diagonal pair of legs hits the ground, the rider can be jolted upwards out of the saddle and meet the horse with some force on the way back down. Therefore, at most speeds above a jog, especially in English riding disciplines, most riders post to the trot, rising up and down in rhythm with the horse to avoid being jolted. Posting is easy on the horse's back, and once mastered is also easy on the rider.[1]

To not be jostled out of the saddle and to not harm the horse by bouncing on its back, riders must learn specific skills in order to sit the trot. Most riders learn to sit a slow jog trot without bouncing. A skilled rider can ride a powerfully extended trot without bouncing, but to do so requires well-conditioned back and abdominal muscles, and to do so for long periods is tiring for even experienced riders. A fast, uncollected, racing trot, such as that of the harness racing horse, is virtually impossible to sit.

Because the trot is such a safe and efficient gait for a horse, learning to ride the trot correctly is an important component in almost all equestrian disciplines, particularly for equitation riders. "Gaited" or "ambling" horses, which have smooth 4-beat intermediate gaits that replace or supplement the trot, are popular with riders who prefer for various reasons not to have to ride at a trot.

There are three ways the trot may be ridden:

Rider sitting a working trot.


A rider posts to one "diagonal" or the other at the trot; when the rider is on the correct diagonal, the rider sits as the horse's inside hind leg and outside foreleg are on the ground and rises as the outside hind leg and inside foreleg are on the ground. Diagonals are used in the posting trot help to keep the horse balanced, and are also useful for timing certain riding aids, such as those for the canter. A rider can learn to recognize diagonals by feel. However, less-experienced riders can check for the correct diagonal by a quick glance at the horse's shoulder, sitting when the outside foreleg is on the ground and the is shoulder back.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Harris, Susan E. Horse Gaits, Balance and Movement New York: Howell Book House 1993 ISBN 0-87605-955-8 pp. 35–37
  2. ^
  3. ^ Harris, Susan E. Horse Gaits, Balance and Movement, New York: Howell Book House 1993 ISBN 0-87605-955-8 p. 39

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