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Do you gallop your horses?

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  • Do you gallop your horses?

    Being an ex-eventer, this seems like a good idea to me. I have a young dressage horse, showing 1st level. We work hard (in the ring) 4 days a week, and trail ride on the buckle at a walk 1 day. She lives out so fittness isn't the issue-she always runs and plays hard at feeding time, and definately feels fresh and fit enough for the current work. My trainer is strictly dressage and see's no reason for gallops (or long trots, etc). I feel like my canter work would be better if my horse ever got to gallop under saddle. The rings at the barn aren't large enough, so I was considering going to either an event or reining barn for a week so we could get in some gallops. Footing is an issue-I don't want to gallop in the pastures or other areas that aren't maintained. Is this idea stupid/unneccessary/harmful/ok/brilliant for a dressage horse??
    Don't toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!

  • #2
    I think it would be good, mind you I'm not a professional or extremely experienced in dressage. But, if your horse can mentally handle it (which I think most horses can, its the rider who can't always handle it) then I think it would be great! I mean, ring work gets old, and stretching out their muscles and letting them blow off some steam and do something very natural seems like a good idea.

    I've only let my horse really gallop a few times, because I didn't trust him well enough. However, at my last dressage show (Training) after the show where we got 68.5% and 66% (only telling scores so you know we're not just yee-haw and take our riding seriously) I went to the fairground's exercise track and let him run!

    We didn't go full out because the footing was harder than I like, but boy he had fun! Much more relaxed and had this air about him afterwards that I really enjoyed. Oh, he's an OTTB too



    I plan on galloping him more in the future
    "I have no business doing dressage clique"


    • #3
      A good pipe opener can do wonders on the canter work! My new horse (he is headed to a career in eventing, but about 95% of his work right now is all on his dressage) is weak in his canter, but I get the best work out of him when I take him out of the ring, hike up my stirrups and give him a little gallop. I usually get several days of really good canter work out of him after that, because he has stretched out his muscles, re-installed the forward, and isn't bored to tears with 20m circle after 20m circle. I don't do it a lot, as he won't be eventing at all this fall and he is a handful even in his unfit state, but just enough that we both have a little fun and remember what a REAL canter feels like.

      I may get reamed for this, but I routinely say that I much rather watch a 4 star event horse's canter work than a Grand Prix dressage horse's canter work. I think it is because they spend a great deal of time doing gallops and using all their gears...they KNOW how to canter.

      No reason not to be picky about the footing. When you're out hacking, scout for good fields, lanes, or quiet roads with decent footing. A hill is best. Only gallop when you feel the footing is perfect. I wouldn't worry about doing it with much regularity, just every now and then. Maybe occasionally switch out your walk hack with a trot and canter hack. I also suggest hauling out your jumping saddle (if you still have it) to do your gallop in...you will be far more comfortable and put in a far better position to safely gallop than if you did it in a dressage saddle.


      • #4
        i agree with yellowbritches (on most of what was said, i would just rather watch the grand prix horses personally ). galloping should not be detrimental to the horse's training, as long as it is controlled and within reason of course. it can also be used to keep the horse in front of the leg. if the horse gets lazy and drops behind the leg you can bring them to the gallop and then back to a more collected canter.

        and besides, you've got to practice for those victory gallops!


        • #5
          I absolutely gallop my horse. I think it is a great mental refresher for him. He is usually the lazy type, and I find a good gallop invigorates the both of us. It definitely improves his ring work.

          I don't know what your area is like, but around here, the gravel roads are great for a gallop after a nice, long rain. They get soft and springy. But I know the type of gravel varies depending on where you live, so might not work for you. We have lots of sand here.

          Nothing wrong with a nice open field, too, as long as you've scouted for holes.


          • #6
            We have a nice field with a slight incline and Jack gets a good gallop up there.

            Some of the others are just too steep.

            Would love to have a track like Welkin to use. But nothing like that this side of Nottingham.

            You guys seem to have much better facilities available to you than the average horseowner over here.

            "Chaos, panic and disorder. My work here is done"

            ~Member of the "Addicted to Lessons" clique~


            • #7
              guess i am lucky i often gallop my horses but theres always a but

              where i gallop them is over many places and oer those places i often walk trot canter or gallop or school over the area - like leg yeilds schoulder ins etc

              why- becuase a i dont want my horse to think just becuase it goes of that area
              that in its mind we can do xyz as to gallop and then get over excited becuase it knows it can when it gets there
              2-- because ia m the boss and you go when i say and not before
              3-- because it will also teavh the horse the start from the end of an area and horse will actomatically pull up or slow dwon if i have a novice out with me


              • #8
                and also in some showing classes wether thats top level or not
                you have to show a horse galloping -- normally behind the line of horses being shown in lower level in upper level as part of your display in front of the judge and both ways

                either way to gallop your in control
                for fun or for show or to race - or for the horse himself to have a blow for they need to sometimes


                • #9
                  I wouldn't consider a horse's training to be complete unless he was galloped regularly.
                  ... _. ._ .._. .._


                  • #10
                    I let my horse gallop up a big hill everday after we are done working. It's his reward and then we cool out on the way back with lots of stops for grass.


                    • #11
                      absolutely...I concider it "supervised turnout". Both my guys love it. And I find that ALL my horse's gaits are improved by this.

                      And I toatally agree with equibrit's post....there is a FOUTH gait, and I think some riders forget that.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ride-n-tx View Post
                        and besides, you've got to practice for those victory gallops!
                        I used to event so galloping was part of my "normal" training so I can't speak about dressage-specific training but I have to say that ride-n-tx's comment alone should be enough to convince anyone that galloping is neccessary! hehe
                        ***Honorary Member of the "What is BOSS?" Cult...er...CLIQUE***
                        ***Prominent Member of the 'Irrelevent Posters Clique'***
                        CrayolaPosse ~ Bluegreen


                        • #13
                          Good for horse's heart and mind. My caution would be that galloping makes the horse more fit, and you don't want the horse too fit for his dressage job. That's where dressage becomes unpleasant for event horses that are tuned up and fueled up for long gallops and challenging jumps, and can barely contain themselves for quiet dressage work. So as long as you gallop with enough moderation that you don't turn your horse into a super-athlete who constantly wants to sprint, galloping is fine.


                          • #14

                            Ex-eventer here too.

                            I do interval training on both my laid back WBs, once a week. One had a breathing problem his first summer with me and after a fall/winter of adding the interval training (2 trot sets and 2 gallop sets) he now has great air. Work up to 2 6 minute trots and 2 4 minute canter/gallops with 1-2 minutes of walking between each set. easy down the hills and strong up them.

                            (I hope I get this right) Jennie Loriston Clarke once told us that at the Olympics or the World Championships (she won the Bronze), her horse was feeling behind the leg so the the last ride before her test she took him out on a track nearby and did a gallop. Of course she was an event rider too.

                            I think Reiner Klimke also believed in jumping and galloping his dressage horses.

                            doesn't hurt the dressage rider to get a little wind in their hair once and a while.


                            • #15
                              Too chicken/injured to gallop them under saddle, but they are all chased at a gallop around a 2 AC irrigated field for about 10 minutes regularly. They love it, and the young ones grow up fit.


                              • #16
                                You mean there are people that don't gallop???

                                Yeah, I've run into a few myself. One place I was at, Dressage barn, I used to gallop most of the other boarders horses for them. I would agree with the sentiment expressed earlier that a horse's training would be incomplete with some galloping.

                                Klimke was a big proponent of taking them out on the galloping track, but then he was an ex-eventer. Hmmm, seems to be a trend here.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by kahjul View Post
                                  ...I was considering going to either an event or reining barn for a week so we could get in some gallops. Footing is an issue-I don't want to gallop in the pastures or other areas that aren't maintained. Is this idea stupid/unneccessary/harmful/ok/brilliant for a dressage horse??
                                  I think the mental break would be wonderful for the horse as well, go for it. Cross training is good as well.... have fun and good luck!


                                  • #18
                                    I love a good gallop, now and then. However, my guy is built downhill, so it takes a lot to keep him up in the bridle and off his front end. Definitely gets them up and forward though. It's good for the brain too, I think.
                                    Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
                                    See G2's blog


                                    • Original Poster

                                      well good! I found a place not too far from the barn that has a small track. The footing is great and they don't charge too much for use. I'm going to haul over there next week and see how it goes. I can probably swing doing it a couple times a month.
                                      Don't toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!


                                      • #20
                                        galloping and ring work

                                        Originally posted by Dixon View Post
                                        My caution would be that galloping makes the horse more fit, and you don't want the horse too fit for his dressage job. That's where dressage becomes unpleasant for event horses that are tuned up and fueled up for long gallops and challenging jumps, and can barely contain themselves for quiet dressage work. So as long as you gallop with enough moderation that you don't turn your horse into a super-athlete who constantly wants to sprint, galloping is fine.
                                        i disagree with Dixon here. i think that variety is wonderfully beneficial to the horse, and fitness is essential for the dressage horse. dressage work is very physically challenging and increased fitness will only help the horse. that being said, i don't think you can make a dressage horse "too fit", i think it is more the nature of the particular horse. just because you gallop or jump your horse doesn't mean that he/she will be unable to do ring work. each horse is different; some horses just inherently dislike ring work, some dislike trails, but most (i think) like variety. so, don't assume that all those ring-happy dressage horses are out of shape.