Determining a Horse's Length of Stride
When on the hunt for the perfect (for you!) gaited horse or if you are working your horse to bring out his best innate gait it is important to take in to consideration how the horse is built. This is the true determinant of what gait your horse will ultimately perform--and to what extent within that gait he will have length of stride. For those looking for a horse that will Runwalk, regardless of his papers, you will want a horse that has, among other things, bone structure that allows good length of stride from behind. A horse that performs the Foxtrot should have nice length of stride up front--again, among other things. In the future we'll add more to the website regarding angles of the forequarters and hindquarters to determine range of motion and how that helps determine gait. In the meantime, this detailed information is available in Brenda's The Gaited Horse Bible.
* Below is an excerpt from The Gaited Horse Bible by Brenda Imus
You can accurately predict how a horse will move in gait by considering his bone structure. Drawing lines from the top front edge of the scapula (shoulder) to the point of shoulder, and another from there to the point of elbow along the humerus (arm) reveal the underlying structure of the front end (see lines 1 and 2). Continuing Line 1 from the point of shoulder to the ground offers a good indication of how long a horse's stride will be in front (see line 3). Drawing lines from the point of hip to the point of buttock and another from there down to the stifle joint reveal how the hindquarters are built (see lines 4 and 5). Continuing Line 5 to the ground indicates the length of stride behind (see line 6).
Visualizing Length of Stride
Extend an imaginary line down the line of the shoulder to the ground, and you'll see the horse's stride length. A horse with a deeply sloped shoulder has a longer stride than one with a steep, upright shoulder (see figure above). Where the horse's forelegs emerge from his body also affect stride length. A horse that is camped under with his forelegs set deeply beneath him has a shorter front stride than one with a more forward positioning of his forelegs.