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Ok to let Tennessee Walking Horse Pace?

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  • Ok to let Tennessee Walking Horse Pace?


    Hello,
    I've recently gotten back to riding after 15 years off. I rode Saddleseat for 10 years and then basic dressage for another 5 or so. Then I had a long time off and am now trying to get back into it. I've found a great barn in almost every way except its mainly western and I have no experience in this area. They have a wonderful, affordable shareboard program and I've recently started shareboarding a Tennessee Walking Horse. Her owner has no problem with me riding her English, and I'm just more comfortable riding this way (nothing against western, just what I'm used to) So, the mare is great and I love her, but I"m having a hard time with the gait. I can't seem to get her to gait and instead she is doing a pace. This is murder on my lower back, which is already in bad shape. Today I rode with her owner watching me and she tried to coach me into how to get her to gait, but she was just pacing. Then the owner got on her and she wouldn't gait for her either. So the owner told me that it would be fine for me to just ride her at the pace and post to it to save my back. I tried it and it seemed pretty fine - a little weird, but not too different from a trot. (this mare does not trot at all)
    So I thought that was that but I started researching a little tonight and I keep coming across things that say you should not let your horse pace, you should train the pace out of them, etc.. Even though the horse's owner (who is also the owner of the barn) came up with the idea of letting her pace and having me post to this, is this truly something I should not be doing? I've read a few things that say this can actually hurt the horse. I have no experience with gaited horses, so I am looking for opinions on this. Is it really ok to ride this mare at a pace and post to it like its a trot?

  • #2
    If the owner can't make her gait I doubt you can, bring new to all this. Does pacing hurt them? I know nothing about TNW but get to watch several STB. Pacing seems fine for the horse but horrible for the rider

    ​​

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    • #3
      You can train a pacer to move their way of going under saddle more to the center and break up that pace. But it's a long term project that's going to require some serious blanket wetting. Or, if you wan to do it fast, a farrier can alter the angle of the hoof to break up the pace. But that practice has the potential to inflict long term injury on the horse.

      Short solution to the problem: go find another horse or don't ride any faster than a walk.

      G.
      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

      Comment


      • #4
        I've ridden a Standardbred pacer at her racing speed and found it to be pretty comfortable. It never occurred to me that a gaited horse could be rough to ride?

        Comment


        • #5
          Yeah. I wouldn't let her pace--that is going to get her un-gaited. It would be best if she is ridden at gait rather than pace. There are some things that can be done to make is easier for her to gait; best bet would be to talk with a gaited trainer.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by RubyTuesday View Post
            I've ridden a Standardbred pacer at her racing speed and found it to be pretty comfortable. It never occurred to me that a gaited horse could be rough to ride?
            A true pace is two beat, lateral gait. The trot two-beat motion is vertical. The pace two-beat motion is lateral, i.e. rolling left to right and back. You can post the trot to absorb the movement. I not seen anyone who could effectively ride the true pace.

            Most pacing horses are not true pacers, but are "singlefooting" in some fashion and that absorbs enough of the lateral movement to make them rideable. The more "single" that motion is the smoother the ride.

            G.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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            • #7
              I am a dressage rider who half leased a friend's TWH for trail riding. Horse preferred to pace but I was able to "run through some gears" and get to a more comfortable gait. (rack?). A lot of the gaiting depends on how much dorsiflexion is in the back. I rode it in my dressage saddle.

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              • #8
                I'd watch the owner ride the mare a time or two. I have a hunch you are bracing in your body a little unknowingly, and she's mirroring that brace. If the owner can get a good gait out of her, you'll know it's just that you two need to get to know each other. I'd the gait is in there, then just ride her at a walk until you are comfortable and relaxed through your body, and in time ask her for little more oomph in the walk to ask her to pick up into her gait.

                Comment


                • #9
                  A gaited horse trainer I knew when I was a kid would take horses that were difficult to gait to a small hill. He would ask for the gait going down the slight incline with his hands up. Seemed to break up the trot or pace and give more of a gait. Not sure if that is true for TWHs.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HappyTalk View Post
                    I am a dressage rider who half leased a friend's TWH for trail riding. Horse preferred to pace but I was able to "run through some gears" and get to a more comfortable gait. (rack?). A lot of the gaiting depends on how much dorsiflexion is in the back. I rode it in my dressage saddle.
                    Indeed. And TMares is right that posture can affect gait. As can saddle fit, saddle position, riding with/without contact, etc.

                    Trotting horses tend to be pretty simple in terms of gait as a trot is a trot is a trot. You can extend it or collect it but you can't ever make anything but a two beat, diagonal gait with a moment of suspension.

                    Soft gaits, on the other hand, live on a spectrum that runs from the true pace on the left to the true trot on the right. Between them you can have a myriad of foot falls, timing, types of suspension, etc. Each spot on the spectrum will have a name. It might be running walk; paso fino; marcha picada or batida; foxtrot; rack; etc. Since this is a land of nuance (where gait is concerned) just what you do with any piece of the puzzle affect the rest of the puzzle.

                    For reasons that take a long time to explain please accept that many, if not most, Walkers today tend to the pacy end of the gait scale. If they are bred for Big Lick showing then their native gait is VERY pacy. Moving these horses more to the center of the gait spectrum can be done but it will stress the horse until they are trained to it (meaning learning a new way of going and then building the physical condition necessary to sustain that new way). As I noted you can come up with a faux method by fiddling with the feet. But that has it's own costs.

                    In short, soft gaited horses are a more complex problem than a trotter. That means the human must learn some of the complexities that go with them.

                    G.

                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If the mare gaits in her western saddle but neither you not the owner can get her to gait in the saddle you're using, the saddle itself may be the problem.
                      Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.

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                      • #12
                        The larger problem is that this is a half lease horse and the owner cannot get the horse to gait and told the OP to just ride the pace.

                        The question then becomes how much time energy and cash are you going to sink into trying to train a lease horse beyond what the owner has done and perhaps in conflict with how the owner rides.

                        I think a TNW that only paces has quite a demerit against it as a riding horse.

                        I would put this in the same general category as you try an English lease horse and it turns out horse will not canter, or is really barn sour, or is so green it can't trot a 2O meter circle. If this was your promising green prospect you'd sunk some effort into schooling the horse but are you going to do this for a part lease horse and indeed should you?

                        That's different from half leasing a green horse and doing schooling rides with the cooperation of the owner and a trainer. With full disclosure of the training holes. I was fine with doing that, ended up keeping the horse. But I also turned down several lease options because there were big holes in the training that the owners wouldn't admit and weren't addressing

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                          The larger problem is that this is a half lease horse and the owner cannot get the horse to gait and told the OP to just ride the pace.

                          The question then becomes how much time energy and cash are you going to sink into trying to train a lease horse beyond what the owner has done and perhaps in conflict with how the owner rides.

                          I think a TNW that only paces has quite a demerit against it as a riding horse.

                          I would put this in the same general category as you try an English lease horse and it turns out horse will not canter, or is really barn sour, or is so green it can't trot a 2O meter circle. If this was your promising green prospect you'd sunk some effort into schooling the horse but are you going to do this for a part lease horse and indeed should you?

                          That's different from half leasing a green horse and doing schooling rides with the cooperation of the owner and a trainer. With full disclosure of the training holes. I was fine with doing that, ended up keeping the horse. But I also turned down several lease options because there were big holes in the training that the owners wouldn't admit and weren't addressing
                          Well said.

                          G.
                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MsM View Post
                            A gaited horse trainer I knew when I was a kid would take horses that were difficult to gait to a small hill. He would ask for the gait going down the slight incline with his hands up. Seemed to break up the trot or pace and give more of a gait. Not sure if that is true for TWHs.
                            Yes, this can sometimes help. It re-balances the horse, and encourages the rider to sit in a position that helps the horse gait more correctly -- the latter is important.

                            If the horse is slightly pacey, with the owner's permission, you could try bell boots on the front feet. That might break up the pace just enough to make it more comfortable. A true "hard pace" is brutal to ride.

                            As with so much when working with horses, squaring up the gaits requires a great deal of feel.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Can the owner come out and ride in the western saddle and get the gait? And then have you ride in the western saddle and get the gait? If so, it's probably the saddle. I would check that first.

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                              • #16
                                I'm assuming the mare gaits in her western saddle?

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Thanks for the input, everyone. I'm thinking its probably the saddle that is the issue. I will try her out in a western saddle and see if we have more luck with the gait.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Guilherme View Post

                                    A true pace is two beat, lateral gait. The trot two-beat motion is vertical. The pace two-beat motion is lateral, i.e. rolling left to right and back. You can post the trot to absorb the movement. I not seen anyone who could effectively ride the true pace.
                                    ...
                                    G.
                                    Sorry, but your post made me almost whoop with laughter. The little Amish boys here can do it. They go racing down the dirt roads bareback on Standardbreds at a true pace, "gist a' gittin' it." Massive lateral body roll and all. Sometimes with one hand holding their hats on.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Good plan! I would ask the owner to ride her in the western saddle and see how easy it is for her to get a running walk (gait I am assuming you are going for).

                                      I have been working a friend's TWH for over 2 years now, and with him being the first gaited horse I have ever consistently worked, it has been eye opening. He is not the most athletically gifted animal but makes up for it with try and heart. He paces. It is his go to gait in the field, and he can cross canters and cross gallops out there too. It was only late last year that I started to get a running walk (not an awesome running walk mind you, but it is one!).

                                      For him, it required an incredible amount of fitness, relaxation, lightness in the bridle, and roundness. I let him pace for quite awhile because he was so anxious about doing anything more than a flat walk. Once the anxiety was alleviating, he started to step pace (also not desirable, but improvement!) until FINALLY he started to do some running walk! We are now focusing work on getting a true canter... Maybe in a year or two he will figure out how to do that! This is all to demonstrate that it can take awhile for a horse to be able to do the gaits they are supposed to be able to do. Some will gait no matter what you do while others are on the less gifted end...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        My husband's TWH will only gait for me in my English saddle, not in his western. But does not gait in the pasture... she trots happily along the TB's. Since she will ever need to only walk with anyone on purpose (she will running walk just not rack) I don't really care what she chooses to do. FWIW she is Big Lick bred. When I ride her once a month to keep her legged up on manners I post her pace.
                                        Fourth N' Goal Training LLC.
                                        ~Specializing in Mom and Kid Approved Equitation and Jumper Horses

                                        *Horse Collector Status = Six Pack*

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