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The Paces: Part 2 - Trotting Tendencies

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

This blog covers the biomechanics and benefits of trot as well as looking at top tips for training and assessing the horse's trot.

gillian higgins horses inside outTrot, biomechanics, symmetrical gait, paces of the horse, rider biomechanics dressage horse, trotting equine skeleton, skeletal movement joints

Take a look at our horse in movement video course to discover more about trot Anatomy in Action.

Assess your horse's movement

Trot is a symmetrical gait, making it an excellent way to assess straightness, symmetry and soundness.

It's a really useful exercise to do, so you can recognise how your horse moves and identify potential problems.

The best way to do this is to film your horse in trot - you will then be able to assess how he moves in slow motion.

Things to look for:-

Does your horse land with the diagonal pair exactly together?

This is a good indication of balance. If a horse lands with one hoof in the diagonal pair a moment before the other this is call diagonal dissociation.

  • If the forelimb lands first - this indicates the horse is more 'on the forehand'. This is often seen in young, weak, poorly trained horses, or those with poor conformation.

  • If a horse lands hindlimb first - this indicates the horse is pushing and carrying more from behind. This is often seen in well trained and more advanced horses, and those with naturally uphill conformation.

Is there an easy spring, suspension and absorption of landing forces?

How much does the horse go up and down naturally? (the type of trot will influence this)

  • Generally if a horse is happy to push up into the moment of suspension he is comfortable enough within his musculoskeletal system to absorb the landing forces.

  • A horse with joint pain or discomfort will often guard on impact and will try to reduce vertical displacement.

Does the horse move and react through his musculoskeletal system the same on each diagonal?

The third horse in the video below is a good illustration of highlighting symmetry.

This video compares different horses trotting, both in slow motion and at normal speed.

With the skeleton painted on the sides of the horse it helps to visualise what is happening biomechanically.

Understanding the biomechanics of all the gaits can help us to better ride, train and manage our horses.

This is something that is presented in the online lecture demonstration series and in more detail in the horse movement video course - Anatomy in Action.

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