Video: Gaits of the Rocky Mountain Horse


Special thanks to Myra and Bruce Addington of Fairwinds Farm and to Sam’s Sooner Warning and Michael Bowen for demonstrating the gaits for this video.

Rocky Mountain Horses are prized for their amiable temperament, breathtaking appearance, and most of all their smooth-as-silk gaits. The Mountain Horses’ gaits are popular with trail riders who spend hours in the saddle, but the breed has a highly active show circuit as well.


Rocky Mountain Horses are shown barefoot or in plain keg shoes with no pads. The judging criteria for the breed places an emphasis on the horses having a natural way of going. Below are the descriptions of the gaits as written in the United Mountain Horse Association rule book.

Trail Walk.

The ability to transition from the highest performance level in the class to a completely relaxed walk is an important indication of the correct Mountain Horse mentality and temperament. The trail walk is an authentic four beat walk, suitable for use on the trails. The walk must be calm, relaxed, smooth and ground-covering, and ridden in every division with clearly observable slack in the reins. There is to be no sign of animation, nervousness, or the need for restraint. The head and neck should be lowered from the position that is maintained at show and pleasure gaits. The horse should stretch into the rider’s hand, indicating relaxation and acceptance of the bit.

Show Gait.

The show gait is a collected, evenly-timed four beat Mountain Horse gait performed at moderate speed, with stride and action appropriate for the division. The show walk must be collected and smooth with no exaggeration in form or execution. The sequence of the footfall is rhythmic and cadenced.

Pleasure Gait.

The Mountain Horse Pleasure Gait is an evenly-timed, four beat gait with the greatest speed, stride, collection and action in any division. There must be a distinct difference in the speed demonstrated at the Show Gait and the Pleasure Gait, although speed must not come at the expense of form and correct footfall. The ability of the horse to demonstrate forward movement, with speed and action appropriate for the division, while remaining in correct form, is of primary importance at this gait.


  1. Is the high stepping front foot action natural or do they use the methods that some Tenn Walker trainers use – heavy chains, soreing, etc, to get that step???

  2. The Mountain Horse’s show gaits are natural. They are not allowed to use chains or weighted/padded shoes like TWH do.

  3. Their gait is so pretty. And its good that its natural. It does’nt always look it. They are very pretty, i saw some at the fair.

  4. This gait is not the natural un-emphasized gait of the Rocky. Granted you can hear the 4 beats in this video but the higher rack step is emphasized likely due to training and is not the natural untrained (unaltered) gait of this breed. The rider has less bounce with the Show Walk than the Pleasure Gait. There are different speeds with the pleasure and show gaits but if not trained to emphasize the rack step, the Rocky generally does not on his own. The true gait is very smooth and NO bouncing in the saddle. Normally, the smoothness exists in all speeds. The rider’s head remains smooth like a straight line, like smooth as glass. Although this is a fine looking horse, I personally feel that it is not the indicative example of the breed. Please feel free to look at the following link for the typical, un-emphasized natural trained gait of the Rocky Mountain Horse.
    Thank you.

  5. I am sorry to be making an additional comment on this particular video about this RMH but I have thought more about it and still I feel that this particular gait was trained to be a rack high step. If one looks in the show manual on gaits, it does not show this high step. It may be that this particular gait is trained with artificial methods to get the rack step versus the natural gait the horse does, which is usually not the rack step. I included a link to my stallion that does the natural un-emphasized gait which is in line with the breed standard. Thank you for your time.

  6. I thought the step was very high, I have Rockies that have performed/showed and that is not a requirement to step that high. But it did show the difference in each gait very well.

  7. This horse’s gait is breaking above the knee which is NOT supposed to happen according to the RMHA definition of the gait and in the show rule book. This means that the hoof in lifting higher than the knee.

  8. It was neat “hearing” the hoof beats, as well as watching. But it is hard to watch and see, when I am not sure what to be looking for.

  9. I have owned them for a few yrs now, and have to say there is no breed with a better temperament, such a loving, quiet, and gentle horse breed. They are the best, hands down. I cant imagine life without my Rockies. I had TN walkers before, but these are the best.

  10. I have a wonderful rocky mountain love her got her a one month old so she is almost 6 yrs old now I love her …..but, with some other horse’s she really wants to go on with the horse’s faster on a trail that is how? do I slow her now when the other horse’s move out ???

  11. Need a better video without people talking in background and the “transition” to a walk was not smooth at all. If this was a sales video, I’d keep looking.

  12. what type of bit do well gaited rocky mt horses go in? I have a wonderful rm but lots of trouble getting him to stay in gait????

  13. Hi Val Young your rocky might not stay in his gait due to back issues or you need to use collection with him. My show Rocky uses and Tom Thumb bit and an Imus comfort horse bit.

  14. The break from Pleasure gait to trail walk was a tad abrupt. sort of like atap on the brake a littel too strong and all passengers in car were jarred a tad forward. the scenery was good, th sound was good, the horse was pretty.

  15. I just purchased a beautiful Rocky Mountain horse for pleasure and trail riding. He is 5 years old and hasnt been worked much but is a sweet heart. I’m looking for someone in the Greensboro,NC area to help me with proper training and riding lessons.

  16. My Ranger is a kentucky Mountain saddle horse he a beautiful, and always ready to place us he gives kiss and he is great with my grandson We love him and by the way he was our first Horse We enjoy every min with him

  17. This is very pretty Rocky. It doesn’t seem like this is a gait that a farmer would want ride. I don’t think it is a preferred gait for pulling a plow either. Not a typical trail gait. Way to high stepped. Doesn’t look natural. Probably what is seen in the show ring.

  18. The horse looks uncomfortable in the trot and shows a slightly uneven gait. Not at all natural. Like to see how its been shod….!!


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