In the American Saddlebred show ring, the ultimate honor is to win the open three-gaited or five-gaited championship. Like the park division, horses in these classes display extreme animation and showcase the pinnacle of saddle seat type.
While the three-gaited horse displays the refined and elegant side of the Saddlebred, the five-gaited division is all about power.
“Five-gaited horses are heavier-bodied and have more bone,” says Webb. “But at the same time, we want a beautiful horse, not a coarse one.”
Horses in the open five-gaited division perform the slow gait and rack in addition to the walk, trot and canter. These smooth four-beat gaits are performed with high knee and hock action, and the rack should be fast, without losing collection. The ability to perform these gaits is a genetic trait that not every Saddlebred possesses. Some horses are born with the ability to perform a four-beat gait that must be perfected in training.
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This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!