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"Flattened" gaits after hunter training - reversible?

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  • "Flattened" gaits after hunter training - reversible?

    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?
    The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry

  • #2
    Hunter training doesn't do that to a horse...soreness does.


    • #3
      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.
      "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht


      • Original Poster

        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.
        The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry


        • #5
          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.

          Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.


          • #6
            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
            No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
            For Hope, For Strength, For Life-Delta Gamma
            www.etsy.com/shop/joiedevivrecrafts Custom Wreaths and Other Decorations


            • #7
              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!


              • #8
                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.
                2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                Our training journal.
                1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.


                • #9
                  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.


                  • #10
                    Besides what is mentioned I was thinking of a shoeing/trimming change. That can cause changes in movement as well.
                    Pamela Ellis


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by easyrider View Post
                      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.
                      chaque pas est fait ensemble


                      • #12
                        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.
                        exploring the relationship between horse and human


                        • #13
                          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.


                          • #14
                            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!
                            ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                            Originally posted by LauraKY
                            I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                            HORSING mobile training app


                            • Original Poster

                              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.
                              The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                                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.
                                Originally posted by Silverbridge
                                If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.


                                • Original Poster

                                  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!
                                  The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry


                                  • #18
                                    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.