Every gait has a distinctive pattern, with one or more hooves leaving the ground at a time. For years, people could only guess at the leg patterns for faster gaits. Then in the 1870s, British photographer Eadweard Muybridge solved the mystery by "freezing" the movement of a horse in a series of photographs of different gaits.
How many hooves of a trotting horse leave the ground at the same time? What about a walking horse or a galloping horse? Find out by making flipbooks of each gait with Muybridge's famous photographs.
Walking uses much less energy than the other gaits but limits how fast a horse can go. Look closely at the pictures of the horse walking. Are its four legs ever off the ground at the same time?
Until the 1870s, no one was sure whether all the hooves of a trotting horse left the ground at once. Look closely at the fifth picture in the sequence. What can you tell?
In the gallop, four hooves leave the ground at the same time, when the horse's hind legs swing near the front legs. Look closely at pictures 6 to 10. How are the four legs positioned? Before Muybridge's photographs, galloping horses were often shown flying through the air with all four legs outstretched—something that never actually happens.