My neighbors have Tennessee Walkers and show and ride flat shod. I enjoy watching them and am loving watching the babies/youngsters in the field. I have noticed in watching two in particular that one will do a running walk when wanting to move at a quick pace and the other will trot. They are both papered TWH. I know my neighbor has mentioned encouraging one that's new under saddle to do a running walk and getting them out of trying to trot. So, if you take a TWH that wants to trot naturally in the field as a yearling and don't try to discourage it under saddle when it's started under saddle, will the horse just eventually outgrow trotting on it's own or will it always do a trot? I know this is probably a stupid ? but i'm curious.
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I have some friends with gaited horses. I'm pretty sure they will all trot under saddle if you encourage, most just don't encourage it because they prefer gaiting. The more natural trotters can be encouraged to gait but might not have as strong of a desire to or as nice of a gait as the natural gaiters.
It is not at all uncommon for Walkers (and most other North American breeds) to do one thing under saddle and another at liberty. The foundation sire of the Walker (Allen F-1) performed something between 7 and 9 gaits, depending on who you talk to. So it's all there!
I don't worry at all about what I see in the field. I save my concerns for when they get under saddle.
Not all gaited horses can trot, even if strongly "encouraged" to do so, just as not all trotting horses would be capable of learning to gait. Imagine someone trying to "encourage" a TB to do a foxtrot, for example, and you can picture the potential difficulty.
What you see in the field isn't necessarily indicative of what you'll get under saddle. The addition of a rider's weight, the added growth of the horse, and other factors all influence the gaits a horse will eventually be able to do. Your friend's babies may end up being naturally trotty under saddle or they may gait without ever taking a trotting step. You just can't tell until they are started.
Now if someone wanted a trotting TWH, though, it's perfectly possible to find one that will never gait a step in its life. You simply need to find the right individual.
Yeah, it varies from individual to individual. We had a TWH in training who would never trot, under saddle or in the field - it just wasn't in her mix of gaits (canter was pretty tough for her too, haha). One of my friends had a lovely TWH (looked like black beauty, honestly) who would trot or do a running walk. She was more of an english rider than a gaited rider, so she usually encouraged his trot except for fun times on trails (he was more of a fun horse not show horse anyway). She was a little involved in 4H, and they didn't have gaited classes, so it was nice that he had a pretty little trot she could ask for instead. His running walk was also more of a rack type gait.
I had a young ASB who would rack across the field. He would also trot, but he was definitely one of those slightly "natural gaited" ASBs. He was able to separate his gaits under saddle quite well, but his relatively inexperienced owner was not skilled enough to keep that separation, so we worked him in 3 gaits only. No racking. He would still slip into it when he was free, but he pretty much understood it wasn't for under saddle.
Some horses just have a stronger inclination to gait than others. Some will NOT trot at all no matter how hard you try and some don't do a very good running walk at all no matter how hard you try and much prefer to trot. It all depends on the horse.
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You can often train a horse to do a running walk, once you have it pacing. There are things you can do with shoeing to encourage it, exercises you can do and bitting can help. Just depends on how much talent you have, how much talent the horse has and how much patience you have.
On the other hand there are some TWH that just want to fox trot. I once heard Fox Trotters described as "Walking Horses that can't, or won't, do a running walk". If you look at the pedigrees of many Fox Trotters they are often replete with registered Walking Horses.
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