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View Full Version : "Flattened" gaits after hunter training - reversible?



easyrider
Feb. 7, 2011, 09:39 PM
Hi -- I'm looking at a horse (via videos) that was started just a few months ago. He began with exceptional movement for dressage (both at liberty and under (hunt seat) saddle). A short time thereafter, all loft had been deflated, the canter had gone lateral, the horse looked eager to please but all the expressiveness was gone.

Everything else is right about this horse -- size, price, breed, etc. All except location -- I can't see him in person or try him without spending more than a little time and money, and he's one of only two horses I'd be seeing on the trip.

I'd rather not get into any further details about the horse on a public forum.

You savvy COTHers have any advice for me or experience to share?

Renascence
Feb. 7, 2011, 09:59 PM
Hunter training doesn't do that to a horse...soreness does.

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Feb. 8, 2011, 12:10 AM
A young horse just started under saddle? He's adjusting to carrying the rider's weight and learning how to carry himself. And yes, there may also be some soreness involved. There is no way that riding a horse "hunter style" would do that.

easyrider
Feb. 8, 2011, 01:57 AM
Oh my goodness, I think the way I phrased things has given the wrong impression. I have ridden and still teach hunt seat -- I have nothing against it!

Let me clarify: The reason I mentioned it is to give the change in gaits a context. There are riders who try to create classic hunter movement from a horse that doesn't have it...and that, along with an attempt to have "quiet" hands, can restrict the gaits. How many hunter riders think that a horse with outstanding gaits for dressage is a terrible mover?! Certainly, it would be possible to see the same flattening of gaits under a dressage rider, but it wouldn't be because anyone was intentionally trying to turn a horse with what dressage riders think are great gaits into a daisy cutter.

My concern is that, if that's why the gaits deteriorated (as I suspect) and it happened so quickly and dramatically, is it reversible and how difficult might it be to correct? I'm especially concerned about the lateral canter.

Thank you for suggesting that this could be a soreness issue and a balance issue rather than a discipline-specific training issue.

Nojacketrequired
Feb. 8, 2011, 02:02 AM
How forward is the horse being ridden in the video? If trainer has the horse locked down to appear "quiet", he may not have enough impulsion to get out of his own way.

That's fixable.

ZA

dghunter
Feb. 8, 2011, 06:26 AM
When my horse did hunters he wasn't coming through so his gaits weren't as engaged. Now that he's being ridden correctly he has beautiful gaits for dressage! We actually changed his shoeing for hunters too because my trainer called him too dressagey :lol:

LookmaNohands
Feb. 8, 2011, 06:57 AM
Without seeing the horse it is hard to say but I will take a guess that the horse is sore and is heavily on his forehand. If you address the soreness, which could be as simple as a saddle that does not fit, and follow the principles of classical dressage and you can probably get him back.

As with buying any horse though it is a gamble!

SisterToSoreFoot
Feb. 8, 2011, 11:40 AM
Maybe the horse is just in a growth spurt and a little awkward right now?

Hunter training might downplay some features of dressage movement, but in the early stages of breaking a horse there isn't that much specialization going on anyway. Unless this horse is with a harsh trainer and has been drawreined or something, I don't see the simple gen ed a competent hunter trainer would give a young horse as ruining their movement for dressage.


A green horse newly undersaddle and unsure of himself might not be showing the nice movement he shows at liberty. He could also be, if he's young enough, in a growth spurt. My 3 year old went from a total junk trot at one point in his development to a lovely gait within 3 months. Sometimes the gaits come and go when the horse is developing. Is he butt high right now? Or gangly? Could be as simple as that.

enjoytheride
Feb. 8, 2011, 05:11 PM
Lord have mercy.

Hunter training does not "flatten" a horse out. If anything a very green horse in hunter training should go quietly and obediently in all three gaits on light contact, just like a training level dressage horse.

Hunter people don't buy dressage moving horses and flatten them, they call those "not suitable for hunters" and leave them for the dressage people because you can't take a higher neck or knee action out of a horse by riding it differently. You can't make a horse a daisy cutter.

I have no clue how "quiet" hands would restrict a horse, unless you're talking about "bad" hands in which case those aren't exclusive to the hunter world and would not make a horse go well for any sport.

belleellis
Feb. 8, 2011, 05:29 PM
Besides what is mentioned I was thinking of a shoeing/trimming change. That can cause changes in movement as well.

Petstorejunkie
Feb. 8, 2011, 09:18 PM
My concern is that, if that's why the gaits deteriorated (as I suspect) and it happened so quickly and dramatically, is it reversible and how difficult might it be to correct? I'm especially concerned about the lateral canter.
There's no real way to tell until you get your butt in the saddle, but I've always been able to improve a horse... how much is up to them physically and mentally.
Really, the whole basis of dressage is purifying the gaits.

CosMonster
Feb. 8, 2011, 10:54 PM
This doesn't really seem like a question that can be answered without seeing a video at the very least. There can be so many causes it is hard to say.

With that disclaimer, if it really is just bad riding and it hasn't been going on too long, IME it should be pretty easy to improve. If you're interested in another horse out there and you really liked this one before, I'd think it would be worth going to see him.

alto
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:20 AM
How old is the horse? have you spoken with the current trainer & discussed the changes you've noticed? can you ask for a new at liberty video that includes the horse walking away/towards you & w,t,c in both directions?

I'd also wonder about saddle fit & lack of shoulder freedom contributing to the flatness.

alibi_18
Feb. 9, 2011, 08:49 AM
My mare is being trained for both dressage and hunter ring. She has lovely gaits and I don't feel I have deteriorate her gaits in neither dressage and hunter...on the contrary, she's getting better at both!

I will say like others, soreness, growth spur, learning phase and confusion, or being badly ridden. Give it a try and see for yourself!

easyrider
Feb. 9, 2011, 10:49 AM
Thanks to everyone who responded with helpful ideas to my post(s). All great suggestions of things to consider and I'm getting the impression that this is not a big problem at all, and I should think like Hercule Poirot, make the trip, and ride.

netg
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:10 PM
I have no clue how "quiet" hands would restrict a horse, unless you're talking about "bad" hands in which case those aren't exclusive to the hunter world and would not make a horse go well for any sport.

I assumed this to mean in hunter land "quiet" hands often means unmoving, as opposed to following the movement of the horse's head and keeping a steady contact. You end up with a loose rein/pull/loose rein/pull sequence which can make a horse suck back into itself.

easyrider
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:31 PM
netg - Thanks for clarifying. That's exactly what I was trying to communicate. I do know that fixed and unyielding hands can easily lateralize the walk and canter and those problems can be hard (or easy) to fix, depending on the situation. I actually think there's a spectrum of ability when it comes to hands, just as there is in everything else -- from kind, quiet, steady, good, to feeling, sensitive, giving, educated, etc. I don't see it as simple as good hands or bad hands. But that's probably a topic for another thread!

enjoytheride
Feb. 9, 2011, 04:43 PM
I have never heard of or been taught to not move my hands when riding hunters. Those riders are either crappy riders or new riders.