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Flat Footed Walk
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.