View Full Version : gaited dressage

Feb. 27, 2011, 11:32 AM
I apologize if this has been discussed. I'm on my phone and it won't let me search.

I was recently given a twh. I needed her like I needed a hole in my head, but she was skinny and sweet and I have sucker written on my forehead. I now have 3 horses that just stand around and look pretty. Then a dressage trainer who was looking at my friend's horse, mentioned the new thing is gaited dressage. SWEET. I'm stoked. seriously.

So now how do I get started? Obviously I need to get me and the mare back in shape. We are both a little under muscled (her due to neglect at her old home and me cause I keep buying unrideable horses). Are there specific trainers out there for this, or do I just need to find a dressage trainer with an open mind? What about shows? Are there specific shows/classes or would we compete against horses who trot?

Anything you can tell me would be awesome!!

Feb. 27, 2011, 11:56 AM
I just realized my post made me sound like I feel twh are worthless!!! I just dont have access to trails and have no desire to show saddleseat/western. So I wasn't sure what I personally would do with her. I mostly do hunter jumpers but have done dressage in the past.

Feb. 27, 2011, 12:04 PM
I really don't have much experience with gaited breeds, but I did ride a Paso Fino in a dressage show this past August. He did very well. It was a regular dressage show, not specifically gaited. Here is a video of him. He is three years old.


I am too mostly a hunter/jumper.

Feb. 27, 2011, 12:33 PM
While the horse in the video is very nice, I don't know that I'd classify that video as gaited dressage as the horse trots. I don't consider a trotting horse as a gaited horse, even if they are of the same breed (unless they do both, ie 5 gaited saddlebreds). The OP, I believe, is looking for info on dressage with gaited horses who don't trot. ???

that is a tricky thing because in order to produce the proper gait with a TWH, they need to be on a loose rein, and be allowed to stretch, relax, and freely swing their head and neck, which I think makes a lot of dressage principles difficult, ie collection. We have 2 TWH and I plan to work on some basic dressage stuff with our young one this summer, to build up his strength, coordination, and balance, but I don't think he'll ever compete- he'd do better in jumping than dressage I think. I'd be interested to see some gaited horses competing in dressage, especially in the higher levels, it's just not what I think most gaited horse owners choose to do with their horses.

Feb. 27, 2011, 01:25 PM
For information about gaited dressage google Ziegler gaited dressage.

Lee wrote articles and books on the subject. Sadly she is no longer with us. But did leave useful information.

Feb. 27, 2011, 04:36 PM
CPO614, you should contact the TWHBEA. Many of their shows include dressage. You can also get copies of the dressage tests that include the flat walk and running walk in place of trot.

Depending on your location, the local branch may have a very active TWH dressage community; those will be the people who can help you translate your current knowledge of dressage to working with a gaited horse. I have several massage clients who compete their TWHs in dressage, both at local schooling shows that allow it and at TWHBEA shows locally and across the country. My own "regular" dressage trainer also works with some of these folks.

Feb. 27, 2011, 04:48 PM
My trainer puts on a series of schooling shows. There is a gaited class where the rider can ride his/her horse in their test of choice. We have several gaited horses come to the shows. Off the top of my head, last season we had a Saddlebred, several TWHs and another breed I cannot think of.

I just flipped through my NEDA Omnibus and couldn't find anything regarding gaited horses. It was a quick flip through, so I could have missed gaited info.

At the very least, you can show this horse at schooling shows where gaited classes are offered. Check out the USDF website. They may have some info! In any case, enjoy your new horse :)

Feb. 27, 2011, 05:01 PM
You need to find the NWHA gaited tests on their website. www.nwha.com, I think they are under Programs> Versatility program LSAP menu>Dressage program. The tests only go up through 3rd. You can't really 'get' extension in a running walk, so you run outta tests :)

TWHBEA will not be a good resource, IMO.

Find a dressage trainer who knows gaited horses simply gait rather than trot.

I was fortunate enough to be directed to my dressage instructor/trainer through TKR, another poster here on COTH. Perhaps you might post a query looking for the same for your area. My instructor took an ASB to 4th level (trotting, not racking) but she grew up on rackers and just knows enough about gaited not to run shrieking from the room, LOL, and absolutely knows that first and foremost, they are JUST HORSES. The schooling shows in my area are including the NWHA tests, and I've been welcomed, and fairly judged. I have been amazed and delighted at the open mindedness I'm finding across a variety of judges.

Why did I start? Well, I don't care for anything remotely like the way this breed is traditionally exhibited, I couldn't locate quality instruction (I can ride but I didn't know gaited horses at all when I got him) and I wanted to improve my very tense, worried, forward, poorly started TWH. My guy flunked as a padded horse, he had issues, I wanted to improve him.

This MAY work, I'm not super fly good with FB. We were just starting our canter tests, and had found him to be tight behind, so it's not the prettiest test, but I'm happy with the non canter work...



Feb. 27, 2011, 05:13 PM
Where are you? Around here (NH/MA), a lot of the schooling shows will offer a gaited test of choice. You're competing against other gaited horses.

There's not always a lot of competition in the gaited classes - My friend's daughter borrowed my husband's TWH (who is a trail horse to the bone) and showed Intro last year. She ended up as year-end champ for our club, and I think may have been the only Jr. showing gaited.

I do agree with finding an instructor that is at least familiar with gaited horses. One resource around here is Julie Dillon. She's very active with TWHs and dressage - even if you're not local, she may be able to give you some contacts. http://www.horsefeathersnh.com/index.htm

Feb. 27, 2011, 06:44 PM
If you are anywhere near Camden, SC on March 11, there is a NWHA show that is offering Intro A through 3rd 2 plus dressage suitability, Freestyle and Dressage Seat Eq., all for gaited horses. Carolina Walkers is hosting, more info on their website or www.NWHA.com Shows/Events

Feb. 27, 2011, 08:01 PM
A friend of mine wanted to show her TWH in dressage. So I did a little bit of research and found the gaited tests and such. We've had 2 TWHS come out to our shows.
Judges wise the three judges we had last year were all very receptive. Our one judge was like whaaat? I mailed her the link and she did her homework. She told the one girl that her horse was pacing and not doing a true flat walk. Her trainer got tizzied for a moment until the judge showed her what she meant and then everyone had an ah-huh moment.
Our other judge was like cool. She told the exhibitor she isn't a gaited person, but this was nifty. Our one judge was bummed that she couldn't judge a gaited horse, because the TWH had to scratch. So judges wises we've had open minded judges.

The tests are based on USDF tests, just that the horse doesn't trot.

I like this website, because it shows a diagram for other gaited horses.

We're going to offer the gaited tests again. It was fun for everybody to watch.

Feb. 27, 2011, 09:15 PM
I have a boarder who has a Rocky Mountain horse that also wants to do dressage shows. Are there any specific tests for them as well? Do you just ask your local schooling shows if they could add a gaited class?

Mar. 1, 2011, 08:37 AM
While I am a dressage trainer, to GP, I coach a drill team of TWH's. They are wonderful horses, great temperments and fun to ride.

The priniciples of dressage are the same as for trotting horses, Relaxation, rhythm, suppleness, throughness, purity of gait. Running walk replaces extensions in the trot, flat walk replaces working and collected trots. The lateral work is done in flat walk. Canter is the same as in trotting horses. Free, medium and collected walks are the same.

The TWH has to be able to use his neck more and more as the speed of the gait increases, but that doesn't mean that you have to use a loose rein, not at all. The horse still has to be round and on the bit, and the rider has to keep a connection. the RIDER has to learn how to follow the movement. That is possible even on the largest neck movements.

The best TWH tests are the same as the USEF tests, with the flat walk and running walk replacing the trot.

talk to the organizers of your local schooling shows, perhaps they will add a few classes for you, or let you show in with the trotting horses.

Mar. 2, 2011, 08:56 AM
"The TWH has to be able to use his neck more and more as the speed of the gait increases, but that doesn't mean that you have to use a loose rein, not at all. The horse still has to be round and on the bit, and the rider has to keep a connection. the RIDER has to learn how to follow the movement. That is possible even on the largest neck movements.

The best TWH tests are the same as the USEF tests, with the flat walk and running walk replacing the trot."

Yes indeed!!! You will find that your TWH will increase his overstride enormously by using dressage collection principles. These horses are all about hind, back and neck. Quite a few dressage shows will offer classes for "non-traditional" breeds, i.e. the gaited horses.

Never believe anyone that tells you that you need to bit them in anything sharp or highly leveraged, or shoe them differently, unless it is to put a caulk on the back.

I have shown my mare in 1rst level and, god willing and all that jazz, we will do 2nd this year, and this time I really mean it... :)

You need to find a dressage instructor courageous enough and willing to take the plunge into gaited horses, get the instructor a copy of the tests, and go from there. nwha.com has a listing of the approved tests.

Have fun. TWH's are the most phenomenal breed, super intelligent and human oriented. They will go through fire for the human they trust and love and they are so very bright, get it once and it sticks.

Mar. 8, 2011, 04:11 PM
Where are you located? I know of a wonderful gaited dressage trainer in central NC.