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Rocky Mtn Horse question about gaits

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  • Rocky Mtn Horse question about gaits

    There is a young rider at the barn I board with who has (not sure if it is purebred or not - nor do I know about the quality of the breed - looks ok to me, really sweet young mare) a 3-4 yrs old Rocky Mtn mare.

    The young rider isn't very knowledgeable (she is, for her age! 14-15) and is not in any kind of training program. So she is mainly by her own. She's doing a great job the mare is quiet and she can ride her.

    The mare looks lame too me, from behind. Head bop upward. The vet (not my vet nor a vet I would use.) told her it is because she is still growing and figuring out her gaits... When the young rider lunges her, always at a reallllllly slow pace, well the mare is pacing! Really lateral walk. At the realllllt slow trot she wants, there is quite a bop behind at the right "hock/haunche" and it feels like the mare wants to canter. (Some sort of "tranter"!)

    I'm a dressage/jumper rider and I want my horses forward at all time. I don't understand the slow motion paces!

    Anyway question; Can this be that this mare is really confused about her gaits? (tolt/pace/whatever type of other gaits there is) or is she simply lame?

    Just concerned...

    ETA: The young rider wants to do dressage .
    ~ 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

  • #2
    sounds like a pain issue to me; lateral walk when free on the lunge

    and a bop in the trot, also throw stringhalt into the mix

    But lower back pain is where I would start.

    I don't think anyone can really evaluate without seeing vids.

    young rider and young horse is an unfortunate combo
    -- * > hoopoe
    Procrastinate NOW
    Introverted Since 1957


    • #3
      Considering that many of these horses have been selectively bred for these gaits, it would be difficult for me to say that it is a lameness issue.

      I think it's a case of the horse doing what it was bred to do, vs an owner who wants the Walk, Trot and Canter of the more traditional breeds. Sorta like asking an eagle not to soar, but to flap his wings and dart like a swallow.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


      • #4
        I have trained a number of different gaited breeds... Without a video, it is hard to comment. RM horses do have "different" gaits... but they shouldn't look like they are in pain. Rockies have a number of different gaits, and these types of breeds are bred for comfort and ease of riding, so the pace definately reflects that.
        "My ideal horse is the horse that I fall in love with again every morning when I see his face hanging over the stable door, looking for breakfast. " - Jim Wofford


        • Original Poster

          I know that without a video, we can't do much..but I would never ever even think of videotaping her horse without the rider's approval and since she believes it is 'normal'...

          Really just trying to understand what gaited horses do when they first get trained.

          @Merrygoround :When she said her mare was just confused, I told her then to teach her the proper gaits she was aiming for, and to correct accordingly. But she just let the mare tranter/bop/rack/pace... She is clueless about how and what are her mares 'gaits'. What can I do?! *sigh* Some people just don't get it...

          I've only seen this mare on the lunge (with side rein) and under saddle. I've watched some RMH videos and they seem to have a nice knee action with lots of movement going on with the legs. Hers is just slow, lateral and flat....
          (I wonder if she walks/trots lame in liberty)

          @Hoopo: Stringhalt came to my mind too, but I think it is more something in the stiffle or SI.

          Apart from that the combo young rider/young horse would have been fine IF they were professionally followed by a competent trainer who'd know about 'gaits'.
          ~ 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


          • #6
            Maybe look at Gaited Dressage on you tube and see if any of the horses move the same way? There was a thread that explained the different gates- slow gate, rack, running walk. etc.


            • #7
              I don't have Rockies, but the barn owner does....according to her, the worst thing you can do with a Rockie is to lunge. Confuses the heck out of them, and will quite possibly ruin their ability to properly gait.
              What you allow is what will continue.


              • #8
                I would agree with the Rocky that I have seen in the arena...moved out much better on the trail, going straight where she could figure out footfalls and I could help her balance a little better. I am wondering if all the circles just makes them so discombobulated.
                Semi Feral


                • #9
                  I lunge my Rocky. I allow only the 4 beat gait. If she does anything else she must canter. But I don't lunge very often. I have a 90' rp and never do any smaller, but do put her on a lunge line every now and then. My rm will trot sometimes in the rp or pasture, but never paces. She only does the 4 beat gait under saddle. Nothing else ever. She gaits all the time if she is walking anywhere. Always in gait.

                  If you have a video I would like to see it.

                  I raised my rocky from a 1.5 year old, trained and breed certified her myself.

                  I do know what to look for with regards to the horse being lame in gaited and the hind end. The horse can be "out" in her pelvis. This does happen, and can to any horse.

                  If you are not used to looking at a gaited horse, they can look different.

                  Sometimes they will pace one direction, or step pace, gait, and not the other in the rp. Sometimes they are better one way on the lunge than the other, just like any horse.

                  Check to see how your horse is tracking in the hind end. IOW is the overstep the same distance with each hind leg. Watch only one side of the body with regards to legs when viewing any gaited horse. That is the easiest way to see the gait. Look at the hock, with a soft eye and watch the feet and where they are place. Horse should be going straight away, flat.

                  RM's do not really bob the head much, but they do have some.

                  edited to add: The RM breed is to have a slow gait for the comfort of the rider. What may appear to be pacing, probably is not. They are suppose to move laterally. That is the movement of the gaited horse. Not diagonally like a trotting horse. Watch the legs. The hind foot will hit just a fraction before the front foot, at any speed - just like a trotting horse. But like I said above watch only one side of the body/legs. Today in the breed, folks are trying for more knee action, higher knee action, and there is lots of discussion as to whether it will be allowed or not with in the breed. My mare has not much if any knee action. However, she is on the spicey side very very forward. Yes, still in gait, but still not much knee action. Bottomline, what you see as pacing may not be pacing at all. It is a very quick foot fall. If the horse is taken down pavememt you can hear the 1234 1234 of the foot falls. If the movement is a 12 12 then she is pacing or trotting.

                  Good luck!
                  Last edited by rmh_rider; Jun. 17, 2013, 09:14 AM. Reason: info


                  • #10
                    Rocky Mountain Horses have a 4-beat lateral gait. Your young friend may have bought this horse without understanding the difference between gaited breeds and those we are more accustomed to seeing (WTC types). If this is the case, the mare is probably doing a bit of what comes naturally, lazing down to a pace. These gaits will definitely 'look weird' to an uneducated (about gaited breeds) eye.

                    Here's a link to an explanation: http://www.brightonridge.com/about_gaits.html
                    Equine Photography in the Northeast


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks for all the good replies!!!

                      It is very helpful. (at least for me and for the people at the barn I will share this info with.)

                      We'll try to redirect her positively on the right path!

                      And I agree that the combo young horse/rider, especially without a competent trainer isn't the best situation.

                      I told her she should sent videos of her mare to the breeder and ask for advice/ opinions.
                      ~ 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

                        rmh_ rider: I'll try my best to see if I could video tape her with the owner's approval.

                        But the mare is definitively pacing at the walk. (much like a standardbred - but at the walk) really 1-2. With a 'hop' in the haunches...so you might be right about the pelvis.

                        Arggg this is somewhat frustrating because we don't want to create drama and hurt this young owner's feeling but at the same time, we all have a 'wth' face when we see her and feel bad for the mare.

                        The replies are very very helpful.
                        ~ 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


                        • #13
                          Lots of horses pace at the walk. Many gaited horses look quite strange to those who are used to not seeing gaited horses. All the RMHs I have ever seen had gaits that looked quite different from what I am used to looking at. A young and uneducated rider/trainer may magnify those impressions.
                          Mary Lou


                          Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                          • #14
                            This horse may just be a bit lazy. A bit of a leg, a bit of collection may help the horse move on, and stop pacing. Some can pace, most do not. But, some do. They can be had for a $ong. It can be the saddle, the feet, the bit, temperament, or just plain the dna on the horse. Some do odd footfalls when on the lunge, or walking, but you get on them and ride, and they gait. You just never know. The rm do not require any special shoeing. They do like all horses need to be balanced on all four feet. This is a breed known for being quiet and slower in gait. But there are exceptions to all breeds. My rm will gait nicely at 5.1-5.5 mph, she walks (in gait) at 4.1 ish. She can go upwards of 12mph, in gait.

                            The pace is the hardest to over come on a gaited horse imo.

                            The more the horse is in the 4 beat gait, the stronger the muscling, and muscle memory.

                            But if you can clearly *hear* the 1-2 1-2 (like a trot sound) then it more than likely is a pace. Doubt this horse is breed certified. A gaited trainer familiar with Rockies would be a good thing. But any gaited trainer, could help. Even you could help. More than likely the horse just needs a bit of collection.

                            So is the girl riding the horse and the horse is pacing while being ridden? Or what you see is just in the ring on the lunge?