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Flat Footed Walk

Icelandic Horse Connection
icelandic horse connection

The Gaits of Gaited Horses and the Icelandic Horse, FlatWalk
Lee Ziegler said that the flat walk was the head swinging eager walk of a workhorse coming home from the fields.

Sometimes the gait is referred to as the “flat-footed” walk; most likely to differentiate it from the “running” walk.

The term has been used in dressage circles not as a gait but as a description to make sure it is a flat footed walk, meaning evenly timed very deliberate walk.

The flatwalk is also known as (and is short for) the flatfoot walk. It is a marching kind of walk with purpose and yes, the hooves do land flat when the horse is working this walk correctly. You get a distinctive thump, thump, thump sound as the horse moves in a well connected flatwalk. When he speeds up into the runwalk the hooves take on a more rolling contact with the ground and the flat walk sound will be lost.

One of our southern trainers, with thirty years experience with Tennessee Walkers, explained that it’s called a flatwalk for the fact that in a super flat walk, the feet hit the ground flat. That’s why the sound of the hooves in a flatwalk is unmistakeable. That sound takes on a resonance not heard in a plain walk, or even an animated plain walk.

A really good flatwalk will involve the feet hitting the ground flat-on, not heel/toe, nor toe/heel. That’s why the sound changes when a horse goes into that flatwalk.

In addition to the sound of the hooves, in a flatwalk, you’ll feel the back lift slightly, the hind drop slightly, the power *definintely* coming more from the hind… it’s a wonderful thing!

In a good flatwalk, the hind will lower slightly, the back will raise slightly, the horse will move ‘loosely’ and in a relaxed manner… and the feet will sound like drums, beating out an even ka thum ka thum ka thum

It’s a very distinctive sound, very resonant, which is how you can tell if your horse is flatwalking as opposed to simply doing a very animated and longstrided plain walk.