Assessing Gait Faults Correctly Requires An Understanding Of The Fundamentals

Confusion is easy to come by when a farrier must sift through the numerous components in a horse’s gait


SOLVING THE PUZZLE. Longtime farrier and instructor Nate Allen has studied horse gaits in detail and gladly shares his knowledge.

When a horse doesn’t “go” properly, it’s usually up to a farrier to find the problem and fix it. Easier said then done. Because many factors influence the gait of a horse, the true cause of a gait fault can be difficult to determine.

“There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” says Nate Allen, a certified journeyman farrier and an instructor at the farrier school at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, N.M. Solving that puzzle is easier for a farrier who understands the components of the gait and can analyze the horse’s movement with a knowing eye, he says. Allen, who credits  his former teacher Doug Butler, the noted farrier and hoof researcher, for instilling his beliefs, offers a framework for dealing with gait faults, beginning with a definition of the relevant terms. 

Gait. “Gait could be defined as a pattern of movement or a way of going,” Allen says. “That includes the speed, stride length, sequence and timing of each hoof.”

Stride. “The stride is the action of the leg between successive footprints,” he says. “How does it land, how does it load, how does it move once it’s in the air? The stride could be further defined by it length, the height of the arc and the correctness and trueness of travel. How fast the horse goes in terms of momentum has a great impact on…

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Ron perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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