View Full Version : ROCKY/KENTUCKY MOUNTAIN HORSES
Jun. 6, 2008, 06:17 PM
I have been leasing an Arabian for about 7 mths now and recently started searching for my own horse. I have become very interested in the Rocky Mountain and Kentucky Mountain horses due to what appears to be a very gentle nature and a nice smooth gait (looking for something a little less bouncy than this Arabian trot I have been riding and more friendly to my older body). I was told by the owner of this Arabian that due to it's gait ( it's walk would be too fast, but wouldn't be able to keep up with other horses when cantering) it would be difficult to ride with other horses and may not be able to handle the narrower, forest single track that we ride because of how it places it's feet. I'd love to hear opinions from anyone who is familiar with this breed, whether you own one or have trail ridden with one, if this is true . Also if I can only ride 2 to 3 times per week if this is enough riding for this particular breed?
Jun. 6, 2008, 06:46 PM
An endurance rider in our region has over 5,000 competition miles on his Kentucky Mountain Horse gelding. He's a super sweet horse. You can't resist stopping to hug and scratch him every time you go by his pen. :lol:
Jun. 6, 2008, 08:18 PM
It depends on the individual horse. My horse is very lovable, gets along great with other horses, but is "buddy sour" if not ridden regularly. He does have a hard time keeping up with the other horse that isn't gaited. We usually have to canter to keep up with the other horses trot. He is a small horse though, so maybe that has something to do with it? I'm not sure what you mean by his walk being too fast. You can make them walk fast or slow. Also the narrow trail shouldn't be a problem. They do a 4-beat gait. They can also trot and jump!
Jun. 6, 2008, 11:33 PM
I have a Ky Mountain horse. When I first got her she scored a 1 1/2 to a 2 on the body score. She mistrusted everyone. She didn't want any kind of attention. She would always turn her head when you approached her. She was always the type that would work for you all day, but then wanted to be left alone.
I have had her for a year. She now loves attention, loves her face to be stroked. Just loves to be pampered now. She had really came around in her personality. She will work all day without putting an ear back.
She is the smoothest horse I have ever rode. Extremely sure footed. She will go on any trail I put her on. She is not slow by any means. Most of the time we have to wait for other non gaited horses to catch up. She does a running type walk, saddle rack, trot and canter.
She hadn't been rode for about 4 months due to foaling. I just got her out, saddled her up and took off. You would never know she hadn't been rode in so long.
A gaited horse is actually more sure footed then a trotting horse. As they always have a foot on the ground. They can handle any kind of trail you can throw at them. Who ever said they can't, is ignorant about them.
I did have mine for sale, but I pulled her from the market. She is such a great trail horse. One that can go all day and I don't get sore at all. :winkgrin:
Jun. 6, 2008, 11:47 PM
A link after my own heart! I own a RMH mare, and she is far more sensible at 6 than my other horse at 16. Shes great on the trail- and has become a real "take care of the rider" kindof gal. Very affectionate and affiliative- as are most. Its true its a PITA to ride with non gaited horses- at a flat basic walk, they will lap the others. Hardy easy keepers. She will go all day, you have to regulate her. I think my mare is "hotter" than most are- she can be stubborn! She HATES ring work, it bores her.
Jun. 7, 2008, 06:44 AM
I have found out through the years that you can't say one breed is this or that. My other two are the "easy keepers". I had to buy some Rice bran just for the Rocky.
Jun. 7, 2008, 08:22 AM
McMillen, you are going to have to look at each horse you consider as an individual. I ride with a Rocky, and she is delightful. I can't remember having trouble with her keeping up with my OTTB when we trot. I don't know what the owner of the horse you are leasing is talking about where narrow trails are concerned. The horse places his feet where he needs to for the trail. They aren't dumb. ;)
For the gaiting, I do find that riding with gaited horses on one who trots is a bit of a challenge. My horse trots faster than most horses gait, so we trot ahead and wait for the other horse to catch up. This is only necessary because my OTTB refused to trot slower. My friends with gaited horses have the option of allowing their horses to canter to keep up with mine. Or, we can let them gait ahead for a distance and then trot to catch up (we didn't do this often, since my horse bucks and that is a prime bucking situation). It's just something you work out with your trail partners.
I vote for you getting a horse you like and feel comfortable on, then finding riding partners you like and feel comfortable with. :D
Jun. 7, 2008, 10:24 AM
Be sure to check out the varieties and qualities of gait within the various gaited breeds to find out how your back reacts. Gaited breeds can be more comfortable than trotting, but some people seem to really prefer and find one type of gait (run walk/foxtrot/stepping pace or rack) over others for back issues. And gaitedness within a gaited breed really varies as well (ability to maintain gait without any special trimming or shoes) My personal preference is to find a horse on the trottier, rather than pacy side
Jun. 8, 2008, 10:24 AM
I too fell in love with Rocky Mountain horses. Learned a hard (and expensive) lesson when I bought a RMH that was the worst trail horse ever. A bolter and a bucker, the only horse to send me to the ER in 40 years of riding. My lesson - don't shop the breed, shop for the horse that suits you. The RMH breeders love to push the calm and tractable nature of these horses but believe me, they are just like any other breed; some good, some not so good. Some are calm, some are not.
Having said that, gaited horses are lots of fun. My husband has a spotted saddle horse that he has owned and ridden for 10 years. I ride an arab and our horses ride together great. Although the arab has much more stamina, we only ride a couple of hours at a time so it is not a problem.
In terms of compatibility, gaited horses and trotting horses can ride together fine if they travel at similar speeds. If you ride with other people frequently and want to continue to do so, try to find a horse with a compatible speed, whether it is trotting or gaiting. Gaited horses have different speeds just like trotting horses have different speeds.
As another poster pointed out, not all gaited horses are smooth to every rider. I have ridden many gaited horses and some are very rough and uncomfortable. Myself, I liked the RMH because their primary gait is a rack which for me is the most comfortable and fun. Other gaited breeds rack too. My husband's horse does a stepping pace which he thinks is comfortable but I think is rough. My RMH had a fabulous gait - when she wasn't bucking haha.
The arab owner's comment may relate to the type of surface that gaited horses need to really move out. At the trot, my arab can go through anything; mud, rocks, uphill, downhill, through water, anything. My husband's horse cannot gait through the rough trails because she does not pick her feet up as high when gaiting. Sound weird I may not be explaining it well. Not that she isn't sure footed, she is very sure footed, especially considering she is carrying a 210 lbs rider. It is just that the gaiting motion requires a smoother, flatter surface for her to really get in her gait. And although my arab's trot is HUGE, it doesn't bother me because I post the trot or two point.
Also, the SSH does need a wider trail to gait; my arab can canter on the narrowest of trails, but the gaited horse needs some room to plant her feet. Not true I'm sure of all gaited horses but for this horse she cannot gait well on really narrow trails. But, not an issue for our pleasure trail rides.
Another consideration is that many gaited horses are not trained to canter under saddle, so if you like to canter be sure to ask before you look. Many do canter, especially foxtrotters and TWH, but alot of gaited horse trainers do not teach a canter start or canter cue.
I will add that the most important compatibility factor may be the walk. The SSH has a fast walk and can really eat up the miles. The arab walks slower but since we ride mostly hills and woods it doesn't matter. And on the flat we usually gait/trot/canter or my husband can slow down his mare's walk. Years ago I had a saddlebred and she did not ride well with the SSH at the walk because she would just mince along with these tiny little walking steps and we constantly fell behind and had to trot to catch up. We solved that by seldom walking but as I've gotten older compatibility at the walk is more important. Plus now we like to walk along and enjoy the scenery and each other rather than just racing along hell bent for leather. Yes, we're definitely older. Sigh.
Good luck and happy trails.
Tamara in TN
Jun. 8, 2008, 10:37 AM
I'd love to hear opinions from anyone who is familiar with this breed, whether you own one or have trail ridden with one, if this is true . Also if I can only ride 2 to 3 times per week if this is enough riding for this particular breed?
I am familiar enough to have known Choc O Doc in KY before he was famous :)
oh my gosh what a jaw dropper of a little pony....and his rider even when he did not win the class, tipping his hat in that old Southern way to the judge and the crowd...
sighhhhhh...I was frozen on place the first time I saw him....and THAT is a hard feat to accomplish for my jaded eyes ;)
I was <this> close to having taken him home years ago....sadly, that was years ago and things are a little different now focusing on color and not the pitter patter of hooves or temperments....so make NO generalized ideas about them and take each on on his face as he stands in front of you...
Jun. 8, 2008, 10:47 AM
We have 3 TWH's and a Paso Fino. I ride the PF, and my husband rides his TWH/SSH. We have a 3yo that is being lightly ridden, and a 2 year old (not being ridden!).
My husband's TWH is more on the high strung-ish side. He is skinny and narrow and has a gait to die for. He has a lot of stamina and heart and always wants to go riding. The
3yo is mellow as jello, not a lot of get up and go. They can be very different within the same breed, in all ways. Our 3yo is going to be a great family type horse that anyone can ride in a few years. My husband's 12yo horse is only for experience riders that want a thrill. The 3yo is more of a 'take your time, smell the roses' sorta guy.
So, don't get too caught up in the 'this breed is this way, that breed is not as good' hype that the breeders put out.
There are outstanding horses in all breeds, as well as nightmare horses.
Jun. 9, 2008, 03:36 AM
Hi there. I own a Rocky mare and a TWH/SSH mare. As a teenager I had several non-gaited grade horses. Rockies are my favorite breed at the moment, because on the whole they tend to be very people-oriented and watch out for their rider. I say on the whole, because there are always exceptions to rule. Rocky Mountain Horses take their lineage back to the founding stallion Tobe. Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses do not. If I remember correctly, that registry came into place when there was a big disagreement over the standards for the Rocky Mountain Horse - and then another mountain horse association was also created The United Mountain Horse. The KMSH registry was open to anything that did a 4-beat gait and did not have excessive white. So you have Walkers, Pasos and other gaited horses in this registry - as well as mountain horses. My Rocky mare is double-registered. What you need to do is go to a reputable breeder - check out the RMHA web site and find a breeder near you and go see the horses. As far as keeping up with trotting horses, it depends on how fast your horse can gait. The faster a horse can gait, the stronger their gait is. I've ridden a TWH gelding that had to be kept at a slow gait, because he was very pacey - and if you sped him up he was very rough. However, my TWH mare is very strong in gait, and quite smooth, and can keep up with trotting horses. So can my little Rocky mare, but I have to ask for her to extend her gait, and she can really keep up with trotting horses. She also picks up her feet quite high naturally. Her dam, who I also owned, was a "daisy clipper", not so high stepping. Gaited horses are smoother with the lower front end action. At a canter, everything is equal. At a walk, some gaited horse breeds, most notably the TWH can outwalk non-gaited horses. They are bred to have a long stride - with the hind overstepping where the front foot hoof hit. As for being spooky, Rockies tend to be calm. They are not as hot as Arabians nor as dead calm as draft horses - they tend to have the temperament of Quarter Horses - sensible and sane. Again, there are bad apples in the bunch as there is with any breed. A girlfriend of mine has a Rocky that is very bold and foreward going and you can ride her anywhere, alone. My Rocky has a little more spook in her, but I can take her out on the trails alone. I usually ride with another lady - and we gait through anything, mud, gravel roads, over logs, etc.. Again, it comes down to how well gaited your horses are. Arabians are know for being very surefooted with tons of endurance. I board an at endurance rider barn, and all the competition horses are Arabians or part-Arabians. My Rocky has more stamina than my TWH mare. I did go out and help one lady take pictures of her Rockies she is selling. This one black mare was unflappable. We were trying to get her ears up. We threw rocks in the air, we shook a grain bucket, we dragged a empty baby swimming pool towards her, we opened and closed an umbrella - and she just had a bored look on her face the whole time. She was the most unflappable horse I have every met. This is her ad.
This Rocky has the unflappable, been-there done-that temperament. Next to Quarter Horses, I think Rockies have the most sensible temperament. And some breeders will give you a 30-day guarantee. I don't know where you are located, but every September is the big, national Rocky Mountain Horse show, call the "International", in Lexington Kentucky. It is usally the 3rd week in September - check out the Rocky Mountain Horse Association web site.
This would be a show worth going to, to see lots of Rockies and talk about them. There is one stud up in Pennsylvania name Luke, that I have seen young children ride bareback with a halter and leadlines. He is that calm (he is the old-fashioned type Rocky, built like a brick house).
And also, go try a bunch of Rockies. I'd say try 7-10 or so before you buy, so you can get an idea of how they are. Go to the established breeders - most being in Kentucky - who have been breeding these horses for years.
I ride gaited because I have had back surgery, and I am 51 and my knees are going. I really cannot post anymore. And I bought a Rocky as my first horse back into riding, because of what they say about bad backs and being able to ride a gaited horse. Gaited horses are just like trotting horses, in that some have a smooth gait, and some have a rough gait. Don't buy any gaited horse that cannot gait at the speed of a trotting horse and still stay smooth. Don't buy any gaited horse that you do not see trotting at liberty in the field. Pacey horses do not trot. Pacey horses cannot gait at speed and remain smooth. A fast hard pace is like riding a camel, and it is bone-jarring rough, like a really rough trot - and you cannot post to it. And if you really want speed at gait, then you go to the speed racking horses. They tend to have Standardbred blood in them. Some can hit 35 miles per hour in gait. Of course, I cannot say anything about their temperament - as I don't own one. But they are the fastest gaiting gaited horse breed - along with the Icelandics, where some can do a flying pace, that is also that fast. I have web sites for both of these breeds I can send you too, if you want, with video clips.
Rocky Mountain Horses are great, but it is always buyer beware when you buy a horse of any breed. One lady at my barn bought a dead calm older TB mare for her novice husband, only to have the horse turn into a terror a couple of days later. Her husband came off and broke his arm. That horse had obviously been drugged when she went to see it, but she didn't get a blood sample during the vet check for testing for drugs. The best bet is to go to an established breeder, and also to take someone knowledgeable in gaited horses with you. You want the horse to be able to gait at a good speed (a trotting speed, or an extended trotting speed) and still stay smooth. What I like about Rockies and my TWH is that I can leave them in the paddock for two weeks, and then saddle them up and go and they are like I've been riding them every day. My Rocky is a very easy keeper - in fact she is getting quite fat on the spring grass. And so is my Walker mare. They are both young horses, so have no special feed needs. Again, it really depends on the individual horse, but I think most Rockies are easy keepers. And another reason there was a fight over standards some years ago among the breeders of Rockies, is that some breeders want the high-stepping, white-eyed, flighty Rocky to be the standard. These Rockies tend to look like Saddlebreds, and I would stay away from them. Just like with Morgans, the judges tend to pin the white-eyed, high stepping, flashy horse - not the calm, steady horse. Just like with Morgans, some breeders are breeding for this flighty, flashy horse, and their horses tend to be hotter, slimmer framed and not suitable as a steady trail horse. You want the old-fashioned Rocky that was bred, like the Morgan, to be an all around family horse. They are also breeding TWHs to be just show horses - so the show ring ones are hot. If you go back in the history of TWHs, you'll see the ideal gait at one time was low stepping - easy to ride, easy to maintain over long distances.
I think I've babbled enough. I love the Rocky Mountain Horse breed. I've had two, and they had lovely people-oriented temperaments. My TWH mare also has a lovely people-oriented temperament. And she is the smoothest gaited horse I have ever ridden. You just have to try a lot of horses and see. Rockies tend to be pricey, but I've noticed with this slow horse market, their prices are falling. Beware of folks who say their horses are Rockies, but don't have the papers to proove it. Just being chocolate doesn't mean its a Rocky. Beware of people saying chestnut horses are "red chocolates" - if they don't have chocolate legs and flaxen manes and tails, they are not red chocolates - they're chestnut. I'd stay away from these people. And take someone who knows gaited horses with you. From my experience, people try to get rid of the pacey ones, and sell them to unknowing buyers who don't know gaited horses. As I tell them, I want the gait bred in, not nailed on (some folks have tried to sell me pacey horses and you can correct some of that with special shoeing, but it is best to stay away).
And yes, gaited horses can keep up with trotting horses, if you buy a solidly gaited horse that can gait at a good speed. Speed rackers would blow away a trotting horse, since they can hit speeds of up to 35 mph at a rack. I don't know about their temperaments though.
I can send you lots of links to gaited horse web sites - my favorites - and where I think the breeders are honest and sell only quality gaited horses, if you want. My e-mail address is email@example.com. Just let me know.
Rockies are my favorite breed - on the whole, their temperaments are like Quarter Horse's - only they gait, which is easy on bad knees and bad backs.
Happy trails, Mary
Jun. 9, 2008, 12:10 PM
But almost none of you gaited horse advocates are using your horses in endurance. There are gaited horses in endurance, they typically aren't nearly as competitive as other breeds but they certainly can be finishers. However, be aware that individuals love their breeds! A friend who recently bought a MFT had lots of sellers rave about them and swear they would be perfect for endurance but not a one of them actually ride endurance. Take it all with a grain of salt.
By the way, there are smooooth riding Arabians. I own one now and used to own another one who was truly a Cadillac ride. Then there are crossbreds too. If you go with a gaited horse then look for ones that have conformation suitable to endurance, not too thick/wide, not to heavily muscled, lower, longer steps when gaiting, not up and down movement. Check the horses resting heart rate and recoveries. Some horses cool off easily and others struggle with heat. Try a horse out on a hot day and really give it a work, ride in the gait for a good extended period on hills, rougher terrain, keep moving, hop off, check the heart rate and check it again after 10 minutes. Test the horse if you really do want to do distance riding with it, what ever the breed.
I should follow my own advice!
Jun. 9, 2008, 12:13 PM
I don't believe the OP was wanting an endurance horse. Just a nice trail horse is what I got from it.
Jun. 12, 2008, 10:41 AM
I'm one of those that has a gaited horse that I think 'could do endurance' but has never done it :) I wish my hubby wanted to do it, but only because I'd like to know how his TWH would stack up. At any rate, he is an excellent and ground devouring trail mount.
Jun. 12, 2008, 02:14 PM
There is a good thread in the Horse Care forum about shoeing/trimming gaited horses. We got off topic (it's a wonder that was allowed) enough to discuss gaited horses and their ability to handle distance riding. We had several people participating in the discussion and even kept our manners!
Here's a link to the thread if anybody is interested: http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?t=150246
Jun. 12, 2008, 02:31 PM
As someone who switched from QHs to TWHs:
TRY a ton of horses.
DISREGARD most or all 'this breed is perfect for ___!!!! hype. Refer to point one.
LEARN about the gait(s) of the horse/breed you want. Lee Zeigler's book Easy Gaited Horses needs to be tattered before you are done. LEARN what it is you want that horse to be doing, gaitwise... and how to get there/support it, with good riding, no tricks, no gimmicks.
Just don't get suckered by 'oh, (breed) is just perfect for that!' It's hooey. I have two, young similarly bred TWHs and they are nothing alike in temperment, gait-predisposition, shape, etc: world's apart.
caveat emptor :)