Fox Trotter- nose out, or "collect?"
   

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Fox Trotter- nose out, or "collect?"

This is a discussion on Fox Trotter- nose out, or "collect?" within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category
  • Collecting a fo trotter
  • Collected missouri fox trotter

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    11-29-2011, 09:18 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Fox Trotter- nose out, or "collect?"

Okay guys. This should be a simple question, but the more I research, the more confused I get!

I have a 17 yr old Missouri Fox Trotter, not set in her gaits. She does all sorts of things. We just trail ride, so we aren't concerned about looks, but naturally if I am going to ride her, I would like to improve on her fox trot if possible.

Her tendency is for her to want to gait with her head up and her nose out. She will do a nice slow, smooth-ish trot this way (I assume a fox trot, but I have no one to watch me when I ride) and of course the faster she goes, the bumpier it gets (I assume she moves into a hard trot).

Now I have experimented with asking her to break at the poll the way I would ride a non-gaited horse. And not lean into the bit the way I would want a non-gaited horse to. And she will do the same slow trot that way, but if I don't keep her in that position she put her head and nose back in the air again.

My question is this- do I want to ask her to break at the poll and squeeze a bit with my legs like I would a non-gaited horse (sort of collected like) or should I just let her travel with a little bit contact, squeeze a touch with my legs, but let her nose point out?

A friend who used to ride with me who has Fox Trotters has said that they should travel with their nose out. And that they can lean on the bit a little. But some of the reading I have done on the internet says it is bad for them to travel hollow and they can be collected up a bit like any other horse.

It doesn't seem to make a difference to her gait (or lack thereof?)from what I can tell. The main difference is I have to work to keep her more collected, and we can just cruise down the trail with her nose out doing the same thing. So what should I do? Will collecting her just encourage the hard trot? When I say "collect" I don't mean anything extreme, but I will give a little leg pressure and back her off the bit and ask her to tuck her head. Sometimes she will really arc her neck like an Arabian western pleasure horse.

So do I want her breaking at the poll and not putting pressure on the bit like a regular horse, or do I want more contact and let her nose travel out?
     
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    11-29-2011, 10:37 PM
  #2
Weanling
I've no specific Foxtrotter experience. In general, the more you bascule (round out) a horse the more the gait will shift towards the trot. The higher the head and more hollow the back, the more the gait will shift towards the pace.

Every horse has a "native" way of going that is set in the breeding shed. Some have a wider range that others. Any horse can be shifted left or right on the continuum of gait. A small shift can be easily done by nothing more than equitation practices. Larger shifts can be made by shoeing practices, tack, exagerated equitation practices, etc.

At the end of the day when an "expert" says "the gait should be such and such" you've got to be careful with that advice. If there is a breed standard with a gait definition then that's the "gold standard." If that does not exist then, technically, everybody can write their own definition of any given gait. One opinion is not necessarily superior to another.

Do some research on what the Foxtrot is, how it is defined, and how your horse compares to that defined movement. The video camera, here, is as much your friend as Google, uTube, etc.

Without seeing you ride the horse in standard tack it's tough to make a really insightful call on what gait is being done and how it can be changed in a manner that is not detrimental to the horse.

G.
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    11-30-2011, 12:31 PM
  #3
Green Broke
Thanks for the reply. That's kind of what I got from my reading- no easy answer, it's always "it depends."

I do have a few still shots of me riding but they are far away. Would it be fair to say this looks like a fox trot from these still shots? I think these other shots show her doing a fox trot at liberty, correct? (this is just to sort of confirm that I can identify a fox trot, I know still shots are not as good as video). The riding photos also show how she like to carry her head- up and out. Funny, she is more rounded in the liberty photos.

She's 17 and I'm not worried about perfecting her, I am just wanting to learn for my own knowledge. Kind of like taking advantage of a learning experience. She's my first gaited horse, but hopefully she won't be my last.

By the way, does anyone have any favorite books on understanding gaited horses?
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    12-01-2011, 03:20 PM
  #4
Foal
I don't know enough to tell from the still shots whether she's gaiting or not. I've had an 18 YO TWH mare for a year and am sort of in the same position as you - she's far from perfect and I'm often not sure what to do, so I'm just learning all I can. I have learned that with Molly, if I let her travel with her nose out she paces, but if I bring her nose in and sort of down by keeping my hands low and constant contact with the bit, and some leg pressure, she does a very nice flat walk, and even a slow running walk (if she's highly motivated - say, the lead horse is getting away from her!)

My favorite gaited horse book is Easy-Gaited Horses, by Lee Ziegler. There's tons of illustrations and exercises to do.
     
    12-01-2011, 03:50 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Nosing out is NOT on the bit, it is evading the bit. Don't think that 17 yo is too old to be retrained on basics. My research, before I got a young gaited horse (through I've owned several gaited and 1/2 gaited since 1985) was that they should be trained to break at the poll and collect in order to develop the right muscles to carry weight well AND to be obedient. Otherwise they develop muscles on the bottom of their neck.

I suggest that you ride her with numerous 1/2 halts every time that you ride. She will start to soften and start to break at the poll without stressing her. You might want to check out National show horse videos with Foxtrotter classes for comparison.
Here's a site to look at~
Miller-Ranch - Missouri Foxtrotter Show Videos
     
    12-01-2011, 08:19 PM
  #6
Weanling
It's virtual impossibility to call an intermediate soft gait from a still. If you have a "quick sequence" of stills then you might have better luck.

Concur that Lee's book is very good. IIRC she was a Foxtrotter breeder and devotee.

Encouraging a break at the poll is good. Just don't get too enthusiastic and bascule the horse into a trot!!!

Use of half halts and finger pressure to encourage the horse to submit to the bit is good. With an older horse it's going to take a bit longer as they have a lot of "bad habit" that you'll have to overcome. I'd recommend using a simple snaffle bit with mullen mouth or French Link. If the horse was used to being worked in a curb then do the initial snaffle work in a restricted area because you may find the "brakes" don't work all that well.

This is not going to be a "quick fix." But with steady, consistent work you can put the horse where it needs to be.

G.
     
    12-01-2011, 08:25 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Thanks guys!

I am ordering several horse books for Christmas. Easy Gaited Horses will be one of them. Amazon had it for only $8. Can't beat that.

Corporal, I watched the 3 yr old championship video (thanks for the link!) and actually what I saw were a lot of horses traveling with their noses out and their heads up. Not extreme, but very close to what Isabelle (my mare) is doing. So maybe we aren't quit on the same page as far as what "nose out" is. Because to me they had their nose out more than not. I think what is collected for gaited horses is different than what is collected for non-gaited horses. The level of collection is different is what I mean. For instance, this is what I would call collected normally:

http://69.89.31.130/~thehors5/thm/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/image-11.jpg

Or

http://www.blacklightninghorses.com/...20Palgrave.jpg

But I haven't seen a Missouri Fox Trotter yet ridden with that much collection. Maybe they are out there. But I am wondering how much collection is the right amount. That's my quanundrum.

I think if I ask her to break at the poll just a tad, like the photos at liberty, than I am on the right track. Any more than that and I think it may be too much? I don't think I want her swanning her neck like an Arabian WP horse (which she will do if I ask for it). So maybe just a touch of breaking at the poll, not quite so "up and nose-out" as the ridden photos. I think that would be happy medium.

What's kind of ironic is that the fox trot doesn't look that smooth in the show ring either. I think I am trying to find "smooth" and maybe she just isn't smooth in the fox trot. I think her flat walk is her best gait, and in the show ring video those horses looked like they were gliding at the flat walk as well.
     
    12-01-2011, 08:35 PM
  #8
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guilherme    
It's virtual impossibility to call an intermediate soft gait from a still. If you have a "quick sequence" of stills then you might have better luck.

Concur that Lee's book is very good. IIRC she was a Foxtrotter breeder and devotee.

Encouraging a break at the poll is good. Just don't get too enthusiastic and bascule the horse into a trot!!!

Use of half halts and finger pressure to encourage the horse to submit to the bit is good. With an older horse it's going to take a bit longer as they have a lot of "bad habit" that you'll have to overcome. I'd recommend using a simple snaffle bit with mullen mouth or French Link. If the horse was used to being worked in a curb then do the initial snaffle work in a restricted area because you may find the "brakes" don't work all that well.

This is not going to be a "quick fix." But with steady, consistent work you can put the horse where it needs to be.

G.
Thank you Guilherme! I was just answering the other posts when yours popped up.

I have already tried her out in a normal snaffle and she does fine. If I am short on brakes, I just turn her in a circle. She has a fairly soft mouth. But she rides in a snaffle pretty good. I have also tried her in an Argentine snaffle (I know that is actually a curb) and that is almost too much, she will do a swan neck with fingertip pressure from that. She rides good in a solid curb but has a tendency to lean into it more. The simple snaffle breaks her at the poll better than a solid curb, but she can ride with more contact than with an Argentine snaffle. Anything with a broken mouth seems to break her at the poll easier than a solid mouth.

Thank you so much for your help. I didn't know the gait couldn't be identified from the stills. Oh well! I do have video, but I have never done an account on You-tube and am a bit leery to do it.
     
    12-01-2011, 08:38 PM
  #9
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guilherme    

Encouraging a break at the poll is good. Just don't get too enthusiastic and bascule the horse into a trot!!!

Hey, I think this is the answer I was looking for! The happy medium so-to-speak.

Break at the poll = good.
Bascule = bad.

     
    12-01-2011, 09:00 PM
  #10
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by trailhorserider    
By the way, does anyone have any favorite books on understanding gaited horses?
Lee Ziegler's Easy-Gaited Horses
     

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