Are Dutch Harness Horses Gaited?

Dutch Harness Horses, also known as KWPN Harness Horses, are not typically considered gaited horses.

Instead, they are known for their elegant and powerful trot, which is a highly desired trait in the driving and show ring.

These horses are bred for their exceptional movement and athleticism, making them well-suited for various equestrian disciplines, including dressage and carriage driving.

Their high-stepping trot and impressive presence make them stand out in the ring, capturing the attention of judges and spectators alike.

While they may not have a naturally gaited stride, Dutch Harness Horses possess a grace and beauty that make them a popular choice among equestrians.

are dutch harness horses gaited

Understanding the Gaited Characteristics of Dutch Harness Horses

Dutch Harness Horses are a unique breed known for their elegant and powerful movements. They possess a special gait, called the “gaited” characteristic, which sets them apart from other horse breeds. In this section, we will explore what exactly makes Dutch Harness Horses gaited and how this characteristic contributes to their overall appeal and versatility.

Gaited Horses: What are they?

Gaited horses are horses that have a specific way of moving their legs and bodies, allowing them to travel smoothly and comfortably at various speeds. Unlike non-gaited horses, which typically have only two natural gaits (walk and trot), gaited horses can perform additional gaits, such as the rack, running walk, and paso fino. These additional gaits offer a smooth and effortless ride for the rider.

Gaited Characteristics of Dutch Harness Horses

Dutch Harness Horses possess a natural talent for gaited movements, making them highly sought after for various disciplines, including dressage, carriage driving, and pleasure riding. Here are the key gaited characteristics of Dutch Harness Horses:

  1. Ground Covering Movements: Dutch Harness Horses have long and flexible legs that enable them to cover a significant amount of ground with each stride. This exceptional reach and extension allow them to move with grace and power, making them ideal for driving and dressage.
  2. Elasticity and Suspension: The gaited characteristic of Dutch Harness Horses is characterized by their ability to flex and spring off the ground. This elasticity and suspension in their movements create a floating sensation for the rider, making them a pleasure to ride.
  3. Smooth and Balanced Gaits: Dutch Harness Horses are known for their smooth and balanced gaits, which provide a comfortable and enjoyable riding experience. Their natural ability to maintain a consistent rhythm and cadence makes them easy to handle and train.
  4. Versatility: The gaited characteristic of Dutch Harness Horses makes them incredibly versatile. They can excel in various equestrian disciplines, including carriage driving, dressage, and pleasure riding. Their elegant movements and willingness to work make them a favorite among riders and drivers alike.

Training and Development of Gaited Characteristics

The gaited characteristics of Dutch Harness Horses are not purely innate but require proper training and development. Skilled trainers use various techniques, such as long-lining, lunging, and specific exercises, to encourage and enhance the natural gaited abilities of these horses. Consistent and correct training is crucial to ensure that the horse’s gaited movements are refined and effortless.

In Summary

Dutch Harness Horses possess unique gaited characteristics that set them apart from other horse breeds. Their ground-covering movements, elasticity and suspension, smooth and balanced gaits, and versatility make them highly desirable for various equestrian disciplines. With proper training and development, Dutch Harness Horses can showcase their natural gaited abilities and provide an exceptional riding or driving experience for their owners.

Exploring the Natural Gaits of Dutch Harness Horses

In the world of equestrian sports, Dutch Harness Horses hold a special place due to their exceptional natural gaits. These horses are known for their elegant carriage, powerful movements, and ability to perform intricate maneuvers. In this section, we will delve deeper into the natural gaits of Dutch Harness Horses and discover what makes them truly remarkable.

The Walk

The walk is the most basic gait of a horse, and Dutch Harness Horses perform this gait with grace and precision. Their walk is characterized by long and purposeful strides, where the horse moves its legs in a four-beat sequence. Each leg hits the ground independently, creating a rhythmic and flowing movement.

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During the walk, the horse’s body moves in a straight line, with its legs extending forward and backward in a synchronized manner. This natural gait showcases the horse’s balance and coordination, making it an essential part of their overall performance.

The Trot

One of the most distinctive gaits of a Dutch Harness Horse is the trot. This gait is known for its energetic and elevated movements, where the horse’s legs move in diagonal pairs. The front right leg and the back left leg move together, followed by the front left leg and the back right leg.

When trotting, Dutch Harness Horses exhibit a floating motion, where they appear to be gliding above the ground. This gait requires a significant amount of strength and athleticism from the horse, as well as impeccable timing and coordination.

The Canter

The canter is a three-beat gait that Dutch Harness Horses execute with elegance and power. It is a controlled and controlled form of galloping, where the horse’s legs move in a specific sequence. The horse pushes off with its hind legs, followed by a moment of suspension where all four legs are off the ground, and then lands on the opposite front leg.

Dutch Harness Horses are known for their uphill canter, where the horse carries its weight on its hindquarters and engages its core muscles. This allows them to maintain balance and generate the forward momentum required for various equestrian disciplines.

The Passage and Piaffe

In addition to the basic gaits, Dutch Harness Horses are also capable of performing more advanced movements like the passage and piaffe. These movements are often seen in dressage competitions and showcase the horse’s collection, suspension, and rhythm.

The passage is a highly elevated and cadenced trot, where the horse exhibits extreme suspension and flexion in its joints. It is a highly collected movement that requires exceptional strength and balance from the horse.

The piaffe, on the other hand, is a highly collected and highly elevated trot in place. It requires the horse to maintain a rhythmic and controlled movement while remaining in a stationary position. This movement highlights the horse’s ability to shift its weight between its hindquarters and forehand, displaying incredible strength and balance.

In Summary

The natural gaits of Dutch Harness Horses are a testament to their athleticism, balance, and precision. From the flowing walk to the floating trot and powerful canter, these horses demonstrate their versatility and grace in every stride. With their ability to perform advanced movements like the passage and piaffe, they captivate audiences in equestrian competitions around the world. The natural gaits of Dutch Harness Horses truly set them apart and make them a beloved and respected breed in the equestrian community.

Debunking Myths: Are All Dutch Harness Horses Gaited?

There is a common misconception that all Dutch Harness Horses are gaited, meaning they possess additional gaits beyond the usual walk, trot, and canter. However, this belief is not entirely accurate. In this section, we will debunk this myth and clarify the truth about the gaitedness of Dutch Harness Horses.

Firstly, it is important to understand what it means for a horse to be gaited. Gaited horses have additional smooth, intermediate speed gaits known as ambling gaits. These gaits provide a comfortable and distinctive ride for the rider. Examples of gaited horse breeds include the Tennessee Walking Horse, the Paso Fino, and the Icelandic Horse.

Contrary to popular belief, not all Dutch Harness Horses are gaited. The Dutch Harness Horse, also known as the Tuigpaard, is primarily bred for its exceptional driving abilities. These horses excel in harness disciplines such as carriage driving and combined driving. They are known for their powerful movement, elegant appearance, and remarkable athleticism.

The Dutch Harness Horse is a versatile breed that is highly regarded for its trot. It is known for its high-stepping action and an extravagant front leg movement, which makes it a top choice for carriage driving competitions. The breed’s trot is highly prized and sought after by driving enthusiasts around the world.

While Dutch Harness Horses do not possess additional ambling gaits like some gaited breeds, they are still highly efficient and skilled in their primary gaits. Their natural movement allows for a smooth and rhythmic trot, making them well-suited for various driving disciplines.

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It is worth noting that there may be individual Dutch Harness Horses that display some gaited tendencies or have a natural inclination towards ambling gaits. However, these instances are considered exceptions rather than the norm within the breed.

In summary, not all Dutch Harness Horses are gaited. The breed is primarily renowned for its exceptional trotting ability and driving prowess. While some individuals may exhibit gaited tendencies, it is important to recognize that Dutch Harness Horses are not a gaited breed as a whole. So, if you are specifically looking for a gaited horse, it is advisable to explore other breeds that are known for their ambling gaits.

Training Techniques for Enhancing the Gaited Abilities of Dutch Harness Horses

The gaited abilities of Dutch Harness Horses are highly valued by equestrians and enthusiasts alike. These horses are known for their smooth and flashy gaits, which make them popular in the show ring and for recreational riding. In order to enhance and polish the gaited abilities of Dutch Harness Horses, proper training techniques need to be employed. This section will discuss some effective training methods that can be used to optimize the gaited performance of these horses.

1. Regular Groundwork Exercises

Groundwork exercises are an essential part of training any horse, including Dutch Harness Horses. These exercises help in building trust, developing communication, and improving responsiveness. For gaited horses, it is important to focus on exercises that encourage engagement of the hindquarters and promote balance.

Examples of groundwork exercises that can improve gaited abilities include lunging, long-lining, and in-hand work. Lunging helps the horse develop rhythm and balance, while long-lining allows the trainer to refine the horse’s movements and transitions. In-hand work, such as lateral movements and turns on the forehand, can help the horse become more supple and responsive.

2. Specific Gait Training

Dutch Harness Horses are known for their distinct gaits, such as the trot, extended trot, and canter. To enhance these gaits, specific training techniques can be employed.

One effective method is the use of ground poles or cavaletti. By strategically placing these obstacles, the horse is encouraged to lift its legs higher and engage its hindquarters, resulting in a more powerful and elevated trot or canter. Gradually increasing the height and spacing of the poles can further challenge and improve the horse’s gait.

Another technique is the use of collection exercises. Collection involves shortening and rounding the horse’s frame, which helps in emphasizing and refining the gait. Exercises such as half-passes, shoulder-in, and haunches-in can promote collection and improve the quality of the gaited movements.

3. Regular Conditioning and Endurance Training

In order to enhance the gaited abilities of Dutch Harness Horses, it is important to ensure that they are physically fit and have the endurance to maintain their gaits for extended periods of time.

Regular conditioning exercises, such as long-distance trail riding and hill work, can help improve the horse’s stamina and strengthen its muscles. Gradually increasing the duration and intensity of these exercises will not only improve the horse’s overall fitness but also enhance its ability to perform the desired gaits with ease.

4. Consistent Reinforcement of Desired Gaits

Consistency is key when training Dutch Harness Horses to enhance their gaited abilities. It is important to reinforce and reward the desired gaits consistently to encourage the horse to perform them willingly.

Using verbal cues and consistent aids can help the horse understand the desired gait and respond accordingly. Timing and precision are crucial in reinforcing the correct gait, and positive reinforcement such as praise or treats can be used to motivate the horse to continue performing the desired gait.


Training Dutch Harness Horses to enhance their gaited abilities requires a combination of regular groundwork exercises, specific gait training, conditioning, and consistent reinforcement. By incorporating these techniques into the training regimen, owners and trainers can optimize the horse’s gaited performance and showcase their impressive abilities in various disciplines.

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5. Breeding for Gaited Traits: The Future of Dutch Harness Horses

The Dutch Harness Horse is a versatile and elegant breed known for its athleticism and exceptional driving abilities. Over the years, breeders have focused on developing horses that excel in carriage driving competitions and other equestrian disciplines. However, there is a growing interest in breeding Dutch Harness Horses with gaited traits, which adds an exciting dimension to the breed’s future.

1. Understanding Gaited Traits

Gaited horses possess natural, smooth, and unique gaits that differ from the typical walk, trot, and canter. These gaits, such as the running walk or the rack, provide a comfortable and efficient ride for the rider. In the context of Dutch Harness Horses, breeding for gaited traits involves selecting horses that exhibit these unique gaits.

2. The Demand for Gaited Dutch Harness Horses

Gaited horses are highly sought after by riders who prioritize comfort, elegance, and a smooth ride. The addition of gaited traits to Dutch Harness Horses can attract a wider range of riders, including those with specific needs, such as individuals with back or joint issues. By breeding for gaited traits, the Dutch Harness Horse breed can expand its market appeal and cater to a broader audience.

3. Selective Breeding and Training

Breeding for gaited traits in Dutch Harness Horses requires a careful selection process. Breeders must identify horses with natural gaited abilities and incorporate them into their breeding programs. This involves studying bloodlines, evaluating conformation, and observing the horse’s gaits. Breeders also need to consider the overall temperament and trainability of the horse to ensure that the desired gaited traits are passed on to future generations.

Training is another crucial aspect of developing gaited Dutch Harness Horses. While some horses may exhibit natural gaited abilities, others may require specialized training to enhance and refine their gaits. Skilled trainers can work with these horses to develop their natural gaits, ensuring that they maintain their elegance and smoothness.

4. The Role of Breeding Associations

Breeding associations play a significant role in promoting and supporting the breeding of gaited Dutch Harness Horses. These associations can provide resources, education, and guidance to breeders who are interested in incorporating gaited traits into their breeding programs. They can also organize events and competitions specifically for gaited Dutch Harness Horses to showcase their unique abilities.

5. The Future of Dutch Harness Horses

As breeders continue to explore breeding for gaited traits in Dutch Harness Horses, the future of the breed looks promising. The addition of gaited abilities can enhance the breed’s versatility and appeal to a wider range of riders. It can also open doors for new opportunities in disciplines such as trail riding and endurance competitions, where the smooth and comfortable gaits of gaited horses are highly valued.

In summary, breeding for gaited traits is an exciting development in the Dutch Harness Horse breed. It offers the potential to attract new riders and expand the breed’s market appeal. With careful selection, training, and support from breeding associations, the future of gaited Dutch Harness Horses looks bright.


Are Dutch Harness Horses gaited?

No, Dutch Harness Horses are not gaited. They are a versatile and athletic breed known for their powerful trot and canter. They are often used in harness racing and driving competitions.


In conclusion, Dutch Harness Horses are not typically considered gaited horses. They are known for their impressive trotting skills and are often used in harness racing and carriage driving. While some individual horses may exhibit gaited tendencies, it is not a breed characteristic. Dutch Harness Horses are treasured for their flashy movement, athleticism, and versatile nature, which makes them sought after in various equestrian disciplines. Whether it’s in the show ring or on the track, these horses continue to impress with their elegant and powerful gaits.