What is a Trot?

A two-beat diagonal gait where the opposite front and rear legs move together. It’s faster than a walk but slower than a canter.

The trot, a two-beat diagonal gait of the horse, exudes energy, rhythm, and symmetry. Positioned between the leisurely walk and the dynamic canter, the trot showcases a horse’s strength and balance. Its cadence, whether brisk or collected, resonates with equestrians as a gait of both work and play, embodying the spirited partnership between horse and rider.


During the trot, a horse moves its diagonal pairs of legs together. That means the left hind and right front legs step forward simultaneously, followed by the right hind and left front. The horse has a moment of suspension where all four feet are off the ground between each beat.

  • Collected Trot: The horse’s strides are shorter, but it maintains energy and impulsion, showing increased engagement and balance. Predominantly seen in dressage.
  • Working Trot: This is the standard trot in many riding disciplines, demonstrating purposeful movement without being overly extended or collected.
  • Extended Trot: The horse lengthens its strides to the maximum, covering as much ground as possible while maintaining rhythm and balance.
  • Posting Trot: Riders “post” or rise out of the saddle in rhythm with the trot, alleviating the bounce for both the rider and the horse.

Significance in Training

The trot serves as an essential training ground for both horse and rider. Here, riders refine their balance, rein contact, and use of aids, while horses develop muscle, suppleness, and responsiveness. Transitions in and out of the trot are foundational exercises in many training regimes.

Physical Benefits

The trot’s rhythmic motion offers excellent physical conditioning for the horse, promoting muscle tone, cardiovascular health, and joint flexibility. For riders, maintaining position during the trot improves core strength, posture, and coordination.

Rider’s Role

In the trot, riders should maintain a secure seat, with heels down, eyes forward, and hands steady. The core plays a vital role, absorbing the gait’s bounce and allowing the rider to move harmoniously with the horse.

Diagnostic Tool

As with the walk, irregularities or imbalances in the trot can indicate lameness or other health concerns. Observing a horse at the trot is frequently part of soundness exams and pre-purchase evaluations.

Cultural and Competitive Presence

From the elegant trotting sequences in dressage tests to the exhilarating speed of harness racing, the trot holds a cherished place in various equestrian disciplines and cultures. Its versatility shines in both performance and leisure contexts.

The trot, with its rhythmic cadence and energized movement, encapsulates many of the joys and challenges of equestrianism. It’s a dance of power and precision, a testament to the athlete’s dual nature of the horse and the nuanced interplay between horse and rider. As they move forward in synchronized effort, the trot becomes a vivid illustration of partnership, discipline, and shared ambition.

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