Indian Spirit Horses – The Indian Shuffle

Early in the history of European encroachment on North America, horses were brought over with the Conquistadors, explorers, settlers and colonists.  This was back in a time when most “gentlemen and nobles” still rode smooth gaited mounts, preferring them to “hard trotters”.  The horses of America, like the people themselves, were a collective blend in the “melting pot” of the New World.The Appaloosa is no exception.  Many of these smooth gaited horses contributed to the beginning of the breed we love.  People have spoken of the “Indian Shuffle” in reference to the Appaloosa for over 200 years.  The Native Americans unfortunately had no words for such and little written history to document breeding.  Thus, much is left to speculation and obscurity. What we do know is that “shufflers” have been reported back to the beginnings of the registry and continue to crop up today in our modern breeding of the Foundation bloodlines.


Breeding program choices, personal preference and out-crossing have determined to some extent where we now find the shuffle; but it still crops up, at will, suggesting strong roots.We at Indian Spirit Horses and Kettle Moraine Foundation Appaloosas like these roots.  We enjoy the “glider rocker” movement of the Indian Shuffle.  We have a strong desire to perpetuate this smooth bounce-free way of going for others to enjoy also.”So what is the Indian Shuffle, anyway?”  That is a popular question with a big answer.  To simplify things, it is a “single foot” or four-beat gait where each foot touches the ground at a different time, even if only a fraction of a second before, therefore eliminating the moment of suspension (the “bounce”).

There are many different gaits, the “running walk”, the “stepping pace”, the “Paso” and the “fox-trot”, for example……all with the same four-beat shuffling of the feet, rhythm.

Where did these gaits come from?  Originally, the Andulasian, the Andaluz, the Spanish Arab, the Mongolian Leopard, the Spanish Barb, the Spanish Jennet, the Peruvian Paso, the Paso Fino and the Spanish Mustang.  Later from the out-crossing of what was left of our beloved Appaloosas, with crosses to many of the newly developed American breeds such as the Morgan, Tennessee Walker, American Saddlebred and Missouri Fox Trotter.  The Colorado Ranger Bred horse is a perfect example of this.  These horses have beauty, Appaloosa color, cow sense, endurance and smooth “ride all day” shuffling gaits.


Some of our beloved foundation breeding stock were noted for their smooth, gliding ride.  Below is a link to an incomplete list of ApHC horses known to contribute to the Indian Shuffle gene pool, both past and present.  We will add to this list as continued research and breeding provides.* Please Note: Not all horses on the list shuffle, Some simply carry the genetics. This is a gene pool list only!