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.