Centuries ago, in Europe, many horses were “single-footers” or “amblers”, which are those that travel with a four-beat gait and do not trot. Although Justin Morgan was admired for his true trotting ability, many mares bred to Justin Morgan, his sons, and generations beyond them were known to be single-footers. With people of those times often traveling on horseback, the single-footers provided a more comfortable ride than with a trotting horse over the long distances travelled by many of these riders.
Today’s Morgans still have lines tracing back to these smooth travelers, and these modern Morgans may be found on pleasure trail rides, competitive trail and endurance competitions, and working with serious cattle ranchers in the west. Recently, gaited Morgan classes have been added to the USEF/Morgan rulebook, affording opportunities for these horses to earn national awards in the show ring.
In addition to the walk, trot and canter, gaited Morgans may possess one or all four single-foot gaits including:
Fox Trot: Diagonal hooves move together with the front hoof hitting the ground slightly before the rear.
Running Walk: Each hoof hits the ground singly, similar to a flat-footed walk but with more speed.
Rack: Each hoof hits the ground singly but in a somewhat lateral manner. The rack is relatively similar to the running walk but can develop more speed.
Stepping Pace: Sometimes called a broken pace, lateral hooves move together, with the hind hoof hitting the ground slightly before the front .
More information about gaited Morgans is available by visiting the Gaited Morgan Horse Association, an AMHA recognized National Organization.