Gaits of the Marchador
The Marchador possesses a natural gait called the marcha which can be either marcha batida (ba-chee-da), a diagonal movement, or marcha picada, a lateral movement. If the horse ambles equally between the two gaits, it is referred to as having centro movement. However, keep in mind that the term, centro, is not an actual gait but rather a term used to describe where the horse falls on the gait scale. Of the two gaits, in my opinion, picada is considerably smoother than batida. Though neither gait is considered to be superior to the other. Preference seems to boil down to the individual, thus the importance of riding both gaits before buying.
The gait is a four beat gait with triple hoof support and is recognized internationally for its smoothness. In Portuguese, picada stands for a light touch, and of the two marchas, picada is smoother. It is a broken pace with little vertical movement. This gait is characterized by the movement of the legs in a lateral sequence, with periods of triple hoof support. The advantage of this lateral four beat gait is its greater smoothness resulting from the periods of triple hoof support and from the overreach. The gait can be sustained for long periods of time, allowing the rider hours of enjoyable riding with little discomfort. The timing of foot falls is similar to the paso llano of the Peruvian Paso Horse.
Batida means to hit in Portuguese and describes the gait considered to be a broken trot. It is characterized by the movements of the legs in a diagonal pattern, also with moments of triple support and a four beat sequence. This gait, unlike a trot, shows very little suspension as the horses are always in contact with the ground. This creates stability and smoothness. The longer and more frequent the moments of triple hooves support are, the more comfortable the gait. On flat ground, performing the batida at a normal speed, the hind foot overreaches the track of the forefoot on the same side, adding to the smoothness of the ride.
Though the gait is natural for the horse, it is more difficult to perform than a trot. Therefore, if you would like for the horse to perform in its marcha, the horse occasionally needs encouragement to engage and remain in gait. You will find that many Marchadors prefer the marcha even in free movement, especially those that possess an exceptional gait. This gait is quite different from that of other gaited horses, presenting with an eye-alluring, graceful “C-shaped” knee movement with medium to low action. It is a forward reaching movement that covers an extensive amount of ground. In fact, it is such an onward stride that many Marchadors can gait as fast as other horses canter. Both gaited and non-gaited riders find the smoothness of the Marchador to be quite pleasing to ride. For more on gait and a diagram of the gait scale, please read my section called Breeding For Gait.