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Starting a Gaited Horse

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  • Original Poster

    Update- She is backing willingly now. I went back to the basics after I made sure she had nothing physically wrong. Thanks to all the advice all of you offered.


    • Original Poster

      I want to give an update on our training of "gaited" horses. It seems 4 of every 5 we get in now is of one or the other or a mixture of gaited breeds. With the help of many of you on here and talking with and studying the works of some trainers I have found that the training is not so different than with any other horse. I have also learned that many trainers accept a simplified terminology for describing the "gaits." We now recognize flat walk, running walk, rack, and Fox Trot as the desired gaits. Pacing and stepping pace are usually non desired gaits and can actually be detrimental to a horse. Especially the stepping pace. More to come later. Thanks to all of you for your help.
      Last edited by Attack; Apr. 7, 2016, 01:22 PM.


      • #23
        I currently am working with a nicely gaited 4 yr old TWH. Anyone have tips on teaching a lope? I can tell he's never been asked to canter under saddle. Very willing and smart but coming up from Tennessee they don't believe in cantering. He canters beautifully in the field. I've watched many videos on technique but not having much luck.


        • #24
          Originally posted by View Post
          I currently am working with a nicely gaited 4 yr old TWH. Anyone have tips on teaching a lope? I can tell he's never been asked to canter under saddle. Very willing and smart but coming up from Tennessee they don't believe in cantering. He canters beautifully in the field. I've watched many videos on technique but not having much luck.
          If the horse is very lateral in their gait then it's more of a challenge for them to canter. But if you see an easily taken canter in the field then you know the horse can perform the gait. You just have to figure out how to cue it in your riding style.

          So, let's ask about style. English, Western, or something else? Do you have a favorite trainer or training program that you use? If so research what that trainer/program suggests and give it a try. Many Walkers coming from "Walker Country" are strongly discouraged from cantering until their gait is "set" (whatever that means). So you will might have to first "un-train" the horse from fearing punishment if they canter and then work on the best set of cues and aids to perform best for you.

          Do you take regular lessons? If so, ask your teacher. If not, maybe you should consider taking a few to, first, ensure that YOU are not the problem with your technique*. If that's the problem then the solution will be quick. If you're not the problem then the teacher ought to be able to help you train the horse to assume the canter. If this fails, then go find a good trainer and engage them for a month to teach the canter. They need not be a "gaited horse trainer" but if you've got a good one around you then use them.

          If at all possible I'd get someone to video you and the horse as you next work with them. The video camera does not lie. It has no regard for your status, feelings, or any other external element. It truthfully records what it sees. This can be very bad for a rider's ego but is very good for the horse's training. I most strongly recommend it.

          Good luck in your program.


          *Something I see a LOT is the rider with a weak seat who cues the canter, a young horse will "enthusiastically" strike the first couple of strides, the rider becomes unbalanced, then leans back and checks the forward movement, and the horse drops back to the gait or walk. Then rider will "rinse and repeat." This happens a few times, the horse gets tired of having their mouth abused, and they refuse to follow the cue. This is not a universal pattern but is an EXTREMELY common pattern. Hence my advice to find a teacher.
          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo


          • #25
            Originally posted by View Post
            I currently am working with a nicely gaited 4 yr old TWH. Anyone have tips on teaching a lope? I can tell he's never been asked to canter under saddle. Very willing and smart but coming up from Tennessee they don't believe in cantering. He canters beautifully in the field. I've watched many videos on technique but not having much luck.
            If you have the benefit of a big open area. Take advantage of it. Just point and grab mane and sit in the middle of him, let him learn how to balance you and him. G is right- too often riders get unsteady and bop them back out of gear. If you're not the rider to do this, and not everyone is, hire it done by someone who KNOWS gaited horses.


            • #26
              Glad you solved it OP!

              If you ever have a gaited horse in training who stops being able to gait smoothly, work on extreme bending through small circles on the spot. I have one (Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, registry not a breed) who occasionally gets stiff through his broad back. We do nothing but stepping circles for awhile, like 10 minutes a day, until he 'unlocks' and can flex easily, his head all the way back to my stirrup, hind leg stepping under easily. Then the gait is magical again.