Five-Gaited classes are considered by many as the most spectacular and exciting in the show because of the speed and strength exhibited by these well-trained athletes. Five-Gaited horses have long, flowing manes and tails and show both ways of the ring at the walk, trot, canter, slow gait and rack. The slow gait and rack are lateral four-beat gaits inherited by Saddlebreds from ancient English ancestors and are comfortable riding gaits. Protective boots are worn on the front feet to prevent possible injury from the hind feet when the horse is traveling fast.
The trot is a square, bold, two-beat gait performed with speed, form, and natural, high action. The canter is slow, rhythmic, and must be executed on the correct lead (left forefoot in the counterclockwise direction; right forefoot leading in the clockwise direction). The slow gait is a high action gait, performed slowly, while the rack is fast, showing action, energy and power. The walk is springy and athletic. The best performer maintains good form and balance, even at speed.
In Five-Gaited Pleasure classes, as in all Pleasure classes, horses must perform a flat-footed walk and are quieter, yet alert and responsive at all gaits. Five-Gaited Pleasure horses wear protective boots.