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my kentucky mountain saddle horse is uncomfortable to ride

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  • my kentucky mountain saddle horse is uncomfortable to ride

    well this is unexpected! maya is a nine year old mare i bought january 2011. she was an extreme green bean with only 60-90 days training way back when she was five.
    so i finally found a local trainer who i like and respect to work with her for six weeks on the basics of trail riding.
    the trainer knows very little about gaited horses but overall is an excellent trainer.
    today was my first ride on the mare and her running walk is bouncy and not so comfortable.

    so the next step for me is to discover if it's her and/or if she needs specific gait training.


    gaited horse trainers are scarce as hen's teeth around here so it may take a while to get that started.
    in the meantime how can i help her to develop a better gait or would it be best to just walk/tot/canter on her?
    i'd really like a speedy comfy gait though!

  • #2
    I showed QH for years and then switched to TWH's and I had the same problem. I found a renowned blacksmith who was willing to educate me and the results were amazing. Trim the hind feet as you normally would and if possible leave unshod. Let the front feet get a little longer (especially the heel) and put shoes on the front. The heavier and longer the front feet are, the better the horse will gait. Of course if you are riding trail, you can only do so much so that you don't lose shoes etc. You will also need to maintain a light contact (at least at first) to be able to encourage the hind legs to come under while using your legs at the girth to encourage forward motion. He also advised me to ride thru tall grass if possible and start at a walk. When turning back to the barn, allow the horse to quicken the walk. This also works wonders. Once they get the hang of moving "squarely", and you get the feel of it, it's much easier to maintain. I also used video to help me see what right and wrong felt like.
    Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it, and created the horse. Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword, O, Horse!
    Anonymous Bedouin legend

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    • #3
      It could be that since the trainer had no idea about gaited horses, that he or she didn't collect her properly for the gait, and now she's all strung out and half trotting, half gaiting. That can be rough and feel like a cross canter or something! Try slowing her down so she can perfect her gait before making her go fast - help her balance and collect her.

      Comment


      • #4
        Might want to go to the gaitedhorsesense.com folk and post there. They have a lot of advice.

        Are you sure that she's actually doing a run walk and not a hard pace?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by threesacharm View Post
          It could be that since the trainer had no idea about gaited horses, that he or she didn't collect her properly for the gait, and now she's all strung out and half trotting, half gaiting. That can be rough and feel like a cross canter or something! Try slowing her down so she can perfect her gait before making her go fast - help her balance and collect her.
          this...
          collection and slow deliberate gaiting. keep collected at a very slow gait, and allow to speed up when she is set, slow back down when she breaks.

          it always sets off red flags when people "shoe" in the gait. Unless she is clipping herself, you should not have to change the angles of her fronts. Try caulks in the back good plates up front, and COLLECTION, good old fashion collection. Works wonders.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by scrtwh View Post
            ...

            it always sets off red flags when people "shoe" in the gait. ...

            Yes, BUT around here, the back-yard gaited "farriers" don't know how to shoe a horse to save their lives. So compared to the "normal" way of shoeing horses, what the above poster describes as far as raising the angle would help. I disagree with leaving the front hoof long though. Most people just need to shorten the toe a ton to bring the angle up to what's really correct. If they need height in the front, use plastic shoes instead of steel.

            The whole "shoe them to a 45 degree angle" BS they do around here makes me just cringe. Especially when you see all the ripples in that really long toe.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by suz View Post
              well this is unexpected! maya is a nine year old mare i bought january 2011. she was an extreme green bean with only 60-90 days training way back when she was five.
              so i finally found a local trainer who i like and respect to work with her for six weeks on the basics of trail riding.
              the trainer knows very little about gaited horses but overall is an excellent trainer.
              today was my first ride on the mare and her running walk is bouncy and not so comfortable.

              so the next step for me is to discover if it's her and/or if she needs specific gait training.


              gaited horse trainers are scarce as hen's teeth around here so it may take a while to get that started.
              in the meantime how can i help her to develop a better gait or would it be best to just walk/tot/canter on her?
              i'd really like a speedy comfy gait though!
              You have just asked THE most commonly asked question in gaited horse discussions (to wit: why won't my horse gait properly?).

              And you've covered the second most asked question: What can I do about it?

              The answer to the first quesion is "I don't know."

              The answer to the second depends on the answer to the first.

              So saddle the horse, get somebody who knows how to use a video camera to help you, and ride the horse for 30 min. taking lots of video. Take some stills, too.

              Strip the tack from the horse, stand it up straight (NOT "parked out*"), and take some good still photos.

              Then sit down in a quiet room with your favorite beveridge. First, look at the stills. What kind of conformation do you have? If you don't know how to evaluate conformation then buy the three volume set of Principles of Conformation Analysis by Dr. Deb Bennett (they're $13/ea. last time I looked) and master the contents. They analyze again.

              If you do this there is a very high probability you'll find some significant conformational issues. Sadly, many North American gaited horses are poorly bred and conformed horses. That's why so many can't gait properly.

              You might also see that the horse is weak, undermuscled, and unfit. This lack of strength will also prevent proper execution of a good, soft gait.

              Then look at the video. First, what's the quality of your riding skill? If you sit horse like an old sack of wheat then the horse is spending all its time trying to keep you from falling off. That will negatively influence gait. Get some lessons and improve your seat.

              What's your riding style? Are you a classical rider (think Spanish Riding School) or are you trying to immitate some Western guru? Are you in contact or on a loose rein? Many gaited horses do much better in contact than without.

              Is the horse collected? Or is it traveling hollow? Collection in a gaited horse is different than in a WB. There is virtually no bascule but the line of the back is straight and the rear end is engaged. If you don't understand this then take a few dressage lessons from a classical instructor. Learn to use your leg and hand to collect the horse.

              You may also see from your video that your saddle does not fit. You may see other tack issues. Fix them.

              This is not a "weekend project." It will take a sweat and tears on your part (and maybe even some blood). It will take TIME. If you don't have the time (for any reason or no reason) then sell the horse and find a better one.

              The above may seem "harsh," but I've done this now for just over 25 years in multiple gaited breeds. These anwers were given to me when I first started and they remain valid today (although in those days video cameras were not so common and still photos had to be developed ).

              If you've got a basically good horse (conformation, temperment, and native way of going) then you can with training "polish" the gait that God/DNA gave them. But if any of those three items are defective then you're stuck with the job of making a silk purse out of sow's ear.

              Do not, Do Not, DO NOT let anybody start "screwing" with the feet. Trim the horse to anatomical correctlness and shoe to protect the trim, as required. Ditto for any suggestion of "action devices" (chains, balls, bangles, beads, etc.). "Nailing on a gait" is the sign of an incompetant horseman.

              After you've done these things you many have solved your problem. You many not have. I note that you bought an older, green broke horse. Maybe the reason this horse was not broke and trained earlier was that the breeder knew they had a bad one and didn't spend the time or money on it. Maybe not. This history, though, is a negative for me. But I could be wrong and maybe prior owners were just lazy sods that didn't want to work that hard. Who can say?

              I do wish you good luck in your project. Unless I see a video and some stills I can't make a definative call, nor can anyone else. I hope it works out for you. Have plan in case it doesn't.

              G.

              *Parking Out is common in gaited breed photographs. It's very dramatic but also hides all manner of conformational flaws. That's why you need a "straight" photo.
              Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

              Comment


              • #8
                Guilherme gave you excellent advice.

                My gaited horses work well barefoot and trimmed to their natural balance.

                When riding, consider really asking your horse to reach and collect at the WALK, really focus on getting a good, open forward but collected walk and that is the basis to develop the gait in my experience. You may feel your horse give you a few steps of smooth gait. Praise it, rinse and repeat.
                "Right is right if nobody is right, and wrong is wrong if everybody is wrong."

                -Archbishop Fulton Sheen

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have a rocky. What is the problem?

                  I can tell you if you let the horse's frame be strung out, like a QH walking along, she may not gait right.

                  Mt horse types need no special shoeing. They need a balanced trim, matching angles for the horses leg conformation. No special shoes.

                  How long have you been riding gaited?

                  Does she gait at the walk?

                  You may have to have a bit of contact with a bit to get her to gait, also to correctly build those hind end muscles.

                  NO, never trot, canter, your gaited horse. You got a gaited horse to gait, not trot, nor canter.

                  My rocky I bought as a long yearling, broke her myself, trained her, and certified her to breed. You do not need a gaited trainer. She is my first gaited, and she is 6 yrs old this month.

                  Your saddle you need to make sure it is wide enough for the shoulder but it is like that with ALL horses.

                  You need to walk her many many many miles to build up her butt muscles. It takes time to build them. It takes time for them to know what you want as to gait, and also takes time for them to stay in that gait. The more you stay in gait, and no trotting or cantering, the more the muscle memory gets built into the muscles and the mind set of the horse. My horse wanted to trot, and when she did I tightened my butt and literally bounced on her back and she didn't like that. I certified her after 6 months under saddle. And there are many hoops to jump through to get them certified. One of them is they HAVE TO GAIT.

                  Sounds like your horse just might be acting a bit on the lazy side ince she has been hanging in the pasture. Was she certified to breed? If so she does gait. No matter your riding style, you can get her to gait. They have great temps and want to please.

                  Remember, just a good trim, plain shoes. No weights nothing. A mt horse was specifically bred to have only basic stuff on the feet. My farrier trims eventers, dressage, trail, endurance (mine, arabs), and a few gaited. My mare is his only mt horse client I believe. Going to a gaited farrier they will want to change things up and not in the right way.

                  And btw, my rocky slides her back feet, so if she didn't have shoes, she would wear her feet fast. She really uses her hind end. This is a natural part of a mt horse. Mt horses are rocky mt, ky mt, and mt pleasure horses.

                  Yes come over to gaited horse sense. We can help you there.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rmh_rider View Post

                    NO, never trot, canter, your gaited horse. You got a gaited horse to gait, not trot, nor canter.

                    .
                    This is absurd.

                    I find that teaching the canter, which is a diagonally based greatly helps the gaited horse that might be on the pacey side.

                    The only reason you MIGHT not want to canter, is if you have a speed racking horse (and most people don't), otherwise it's a very comfortable gait for both horse and rider.

                    Follow Guilherme's advice. It is solid.
                    "The best hearts are ever the bravest"

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      great info, thanks so much.
                      i will not mess with her feet or artificial aids, and her saddle is fitting her very well.
                      she was bought as a weanling by first time owners and raised by them with much love and attention but no boundaries at all--thus when i met her she was bargie, ran you over, didn't know how to lead, etc.
                      anyway a couple of years ago the wife had a terrible truck accident and is now bedridden. she only rode the mare a couple of times before her accident iirc.
                      her husband couldn't care for her and the horses any longer and i happened to be there to pick up the gelding for a friend and the mare was losing her mind at being separated. he threw her into the deal for a couple of hundred bucks.
                      it was very,very sad and i took her because i was so worried she'd injure herself when we left.
                      (well plus cuz she's a gorgeous sooty buckskin, 14'1 and gaited)!
                      so as far as i know she's only had the 60 days. no contact with the sellers ever again, no papers, no nothing.

                      the mare is built very stocky and strong--reminds me of my sport haflinger's build. feet like iron, thick neck and short,wide back.

                      i cannot wait to get her home so i can start working on her walk.
                      and i do have a cell with video capability, that will be a goal, getting her confo and movement recorded for analysis.

                      thanks for the homework, now i have a direction to start at least.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree, you can absolutely canter your gaited horse. My Walker has the smoothest rocking chair canter and has never had an issue because I canter him.
                        After you watch some videos of horses doing different gaited walks, take your mare to a paved road and try it there- you will be able to not only feel/see, you will be able to hear her footfalls.
                        The simplest way to tell you is to keep contact and it might be pretty tight contact at first and push her forward at the same time with your legs..you might notice that if you let the contact go, that's when you get the uncomfortable gait.
                        Kerri

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You've been given some really great advice already, I'm a gaited trainer and one of the issues we run into is after going to a non-gaited trainer, they'll overbridle/tuck into a "pretty" headset and trot--dead giveaway that they've been side reined and lunged a lot. The simplest way to explain what we do is to ride on light contact (two hands) and every time the neck goes down, do a cluck/squeeze at the same time, cluck/leg squeeze forward as your hands encourage the entire neck to come up, the butt surges forward and engages again and the front end lightens which encourages the correct gait. Make sure your shoulders are back--takes some experimenting with how much rein contact and how much impulsion you need to get the body all connected to "do it's thing" For a lazier horse, you can lift the neck and tap with a dressage whip at the tail head, which will tuck the rump under, engage the hind legs more and create the "essential tension" required to step into the racking gait. HIGHLY recommend "The Easy Gaited Horse"
                          Windwalker Ridge: Gaited horses, lessons, training, sales
                          http://windwalkerridge.cloud11.net

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by allikat819 View Post
                            This is absurd.

                            I find that teaching the canter, which is a diagonally based greatly helps the gaited horse that might be on the pacey side.

                            The only reason you MIGHT not want to canter, is if you have a speed racking horse (and most people don't), otherwise it's a very comfortable gait for both horse and rider.

                            Follow Guilherme's advice. It is solid.
                            You are absolutely correct. Working a gaited horse at the canter is an excellent way to build wind and strength. These will, of necessity, improve gait.

                            The canter will also frequently "loosen up" a gaited horse and improve their gait.

                            Even teaching them to trot can be a useful exercise in some circumstances (like breaking up the pace in a horse with an extreme lateral gait).

                            The idea that you don't ever let a gaited horse canter was once commonly held but is is also one best consigned to the Dustbin of History.

                            G.
                            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ditto getting a copy of "Easy Gaited Horses," it's an excellent book. It will teach you about the spectrum of gaits and how to recognize them and hints for correcting a trotty or pacey gait.

                              Liz Graves has some good stuff on her site.

                              Her articles: http://www.lizgraves.com/articlen.html

                              Lee Ziegler (author of Easy Gaited Horses) articles: http://www.lizgraves.com/lee_zieglers_classroom.html

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                You know what? People buy gaited horses to gait, not trot, not pace, not canter.

                                You can teach them, but why? One buys a gaited horse to gait.

                                I work my horse on hills, also I ride her with dressage type principals. Just like I did my arabs. These horses go plenty fast in a gait, no need to go faster. They get plenty fit staying in gait.

                                Speed rackers *have* to rack iow gait. They want no other gait for the horse to know. I just went to the Big Guns a few weeks ago and watched all the horses go. My friend took lots of pictures. If a speed racker horse trotted, or paced or cantered, it had to be pulled up and it lost it's "drag race". I know quite a few folks (including breeders) with speed rackers, and they also compete. They do not like them to do anything other than gait. Watch those video's of the big guns, you will NOT see anybody trotting at liberty to warm up, or cantering. Those horses can go well over 30 mph in a gait, why would you want them to canter?

                                If you go on the gaited sites, do a poll, people buy gaited horses to gait, not to trot, pace, or canter. Some breeds encourage it, like the MFT, but not many of the others. I pretty much ride with gaited people all the time. They do not trot, pace, or canter. They 4 beat gait. Period. Then the speed rackers on the straight away can just really go fast, in gait.

                                My Rocky can sure go fast, in gait I have had her at 14mph, and there was more to give. She could go faster, but I like a slower speed around the 5-7mph. Sure you can teach a horse to do most things. Gait is what ya do.

                                Check out the gaitedhorsesense.com web site. Not sure there is anybody actively teaching their horse on purpose to trot, pace, or canter. Unless they show, and it is required. Sure it is smooth, but we want them to gait.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If you don't want to canter your horse, that is fine. But to say that gaited horses *shouldn't* is incorrect, and quite often cantering improves the quality of gait.
                                  "The best hearts are ever the bravest"

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                    Do not, Do Not, DO NOT let anybody start "screwing" with the feet. Trim the horse to anatomical correctlness and shoe to protect the trim, as required. Ditto for any suggestion of "action devices" (chains, balls, bangles, beads, etc.). "Nailing on a gait" is the sign of an incompetant horseman
                                    Leaving a little more hoof in front with a SLIGHTLY heavier shoe is certainly not "screwing" with the feet. Not everyone can afford a horse who is conformationally correct, so we do what we can to "help" them. I'm not suggesting OP go out and put big lick shoes and chains on the horse! I showed flat shod walkers for years. They are all STILL SOUND to this day doing just what I described. I never put chains on them or sored them or any of that other crap people do, but I did make their front feet a little heavier by leaving shoes off the hind and allowing the front feet to be longer. And I won EVERYTHING, so take it for what it's worth.
                                    Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it, and created the horse. Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword, O, Horse!
                                    Anonymous Bedouin legend

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by sorrelfilly721 View Post
                                      Leaving a little more hoof in front with a SLIGHTLY heavier shoe is certainly not "screwing" with the feet. Not everyone can afford a horse who is conformationally correct, so we do what we can to "help" them. I'm not suggesting OP go out and put big lick shoes and chains on the horse! I showed flat shod walkers for years. They are all STILL SOUND to this day doing just what I described. I never put chains on them or sored them or any of that other crap people do, but I did make their front feet a little heavier by leaving shoes off the hind and allowing the front feet to be longer. And I won EVERYTHING, so take it for what it's worth.
                                      This reminds me of a famous, old story told by Mark Twain. He was at a fancy dress ball and asked a belle if she would sleep with him for $10,000 and she said "yes." Then he asked if she would sleep with him for $10. Her answer was, "No; what do you think I am?" He responded, "We've already settled what you are; now we're just negotiating the price."

                                      Once you start to walk the "long toe/low heel" route, even a little bit, you become something problematical. Just how problematical we don't know.

                                      The idea that "Not everyone can afford a horse who is conformationally correct" is very curious. If you spend money on good conformation you don't have to spend it on foot fetishes, trainers, etc. It seems to me to foolish economy to buy a defective horse and then try and fix it. Particularly when training will run $600-$1000/mo. in most places.

                                      I've never been impressed with ribbons. I'm rather impressed by the horses that won them. Sometimes even the owners/riders that helped them. A long toe, even just a little bit long, adversely affects equine biomechanical efficiency and introduces negative physical stresses into the horse's body. Maybe that doesn't bother you; it does me.

                                      My opinion remains unchanged from what I wrote, above.

                                      G.
                                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                        This reminds me of a famous, old story told by Mark Twain. He was at a fancy dress ball and asked a belle if she would sleep with him for $10,000 and she said "yes." Then he asked if she would sleep with him for $10. Her answer was, "No; what do you think I am?" He responded, "We've already settled what you are; now we're just negotiating the price."

                                        Once you start to walk the "long toe/low heel" route, even a little bit, you become something problematical. Just how problematical we don't know.

                                        The idea that "Not everyone can afford a horse who is conformationally correct" is very curious. If you spend money on good conformation you don't have to spend it on foot fetishes, trainers, etc. It seems to me to foolish economy to buy a defective horse and then try and fix it. Particularly when training will run $600-$1000/mo. in most places.

                                        I've never been impressed with ribbons. I'm rather impressed by the horses that won them. Sometimes even the owners/riders that helped them. A long toe, even just a little bit long, adversely affects equine biomechanical efficiency and introduces negative physical stresses into the horse's body. Maybe that doesn't bother you; it does me.

                                        My opinion remains unchanged from what I wrote, above.

                                        G.
                                        Again you miss the point. I didn't pay my farrier one extra dime for shoeing because I was not doing plantation shoes or big lick shoes. We're talking about an extra ounce or so, not a POUND. It doesn't cost one dime more and leaving a tiny bit more foot certainly does not make a horse lame. Clearly you have never had any experience with this or you would know.
                                        Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it, and created the horse. Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword, O, Horse!
                                        Anonymous Bedouin legend

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