Horse Gaits Flipbook

People can walk, skip, and run. But with four legs, horses can move in even more different ways, called gaits. They naturally walk, trot, canter, and gallop, depending on how fast they need to move.

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.

1. Print out PDFs on light cardstock. (Regular printer paper is too flimsy.)

2. Cut out each flipbook page along dotted lines.

3. Punch holes in the places marked "x".

4. Stack the pages by number with page 1 on top.

5. Place the cover page on top of stack.

6. Thread the piece of string through both holes and tie the ends together to make a book.

7. Hold the book with your left hand and flip through the pages with your right thumb. Watch how the horse moves.
Thick string or shoelace
Hole puncher
Light Cardstock

The Walk Flipbook (PDF)

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?

The Trot Flipbook (PDF)

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?

The Gallop Flipbook (PDF)

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.