The objective was to determine whether collected trot, passage and piaffe could be distinguished as separate gaits on the basis of temporal variables. Sagittal plane, 60 Hz videotapes of 10 finalists in the dressage competitions at the 1992 Olympic Games were analysed to measure the temporal variables in absolute terms and as percentages of stride duration. Classification was based on analysis of variance, a graphical method and discriminant analysis. Stride duration was sufficient to distinguish collected trot from passage and piaffe in all horses. The analysis of variance showed that the mean values of most variables differed significantly between passage and piaffe. When hindlimb stance percentage was plotted against diagonal advanced placement percentage, some overlap was found between all 3 movements indicating that individual horses could not be classified reliably in this manner. Using hindlimb stance percentage and diagonal advanced placement percentage as input in a discriminant analysis, 80% of the cases were classified correctly, but at least one horse was misclassified in each movement. When the absolute, rather than percentage, values of the 2 variables were used as input in the discriminant analysis, 90% of the cases were correctly classified and the only misclassifications were between passage and piaffe. However, the 2 horses in which piaffe was misclassified as passage were the gold and silver medallists. In general, higher placed horses tended toward longer diagonal advanced placements, especially in collected trot and passage, and shorter hindlimb stance percentages in passage and piaffe.