The Gait--bad for horses? Help! - Page 2
   

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The Gait--bad for horses? Help!

This is a discussion on The Gait--bad for horses? Help! within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category
  • Why the horse trot has historically been a preferred gait.
  • Ponyplay gait type pictures

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    04-18-2013, 05:10 PM
  #11
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by demonwolfmoon    
Guilherme, I hear you.

I did take video of Witch walking and trotting, and sent it to another board member. It was her opinion that the horse is a gaited horse that has been allowed to trot. Being still somewhat new to horses (and having ridden a gaited horse exactly once!) the only thing that I really notice is that she has a slightly different way to her walk.

In your opinion, is the "trot" of a gaited horse rougher than the trot of a horse that is not gaited?
Perhaps a second opinion is in order? That's not to say the first is wrong, only that a second set of eyes can sometimes see different things.

In general, a trot is a trot is a trot. I'm not all that much of an expert (having been involved with gaited horses for most of my equine life). My trotting friends tell me that rear leg configuration has a lot to do with "rough" or "smooth" trot. A straight, or "post", leg does not "give" and that transmits movement right to the rider. A big, "bold" trot (where you have a lot of suspension) is not all that comfortable to ride. But I've never heard that "gaited" horses have worse trots than a natural trotter.

Consider, too, that not all gaits are lateral. The great majority of North American gaited horses have a lateral gait, but many can also be fundamentally diagonal.

Rather than engage a trainer at this point just ride the horse for a couple of months and see what you get. If you find a gait, you can develop it. If you don't, you've not spent time and money looking for what's not there.

Good luck in the project.

G.
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    04-18-2013, 06:51 PM
  #12
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by demonwolfmoon    
Can someone point me in the direction of some research please?

We just found out that our Camelot horse may be a gaited horse which has been ridden as non gaited (aka, allowed to trot etc). My husband, who has taken a special shine to Witch, and thinks gaiting is not all that cool, has brought up the question of whether or not the gait, or encouraging it is detrimental to the horse?

It seems as if the horse is smoothing out the ride for the rider, but at what cost? Does it cause greater impact on the horse's musculoskeletal system?

It sounds to me like you're asking this question about gaiting in general, so here's an answer: All disciplines impact the horse's musculoskeletal system in some way. The key is knowing how much of a particular activity is too much. This is where gaited horse owners and breeders have historically failed, and it is (I believe) why some people still believe gaiting is bad for the horse. I think the problem is that gaiting is so easy on riders, they often fail to realize how much work the horse is doing (which is more than if they were trotting).

I don't think science has an answer yet on how much gaiting is too much, but "everything in moderation" is a good creed to live by. Most gaited horses stay sound to a ripe old age, so gaiting can't be any worse for horses than anything else we ask them to do.
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    04-19-2013, 07:51 AM
  #13
Yearling
I'd add another word: mix.

Mix your gaits. Don't rack your horse for an hour without a break. Stop, walk, canter, dismount and walk, etc. Give your horse's back a rest. The U.S. Army dismounted and marched for about 10 min./hr., then rested for 10 min. Before mounting up and continuing. The British Army used a rigid clock system that included 20 min. At the walk, 20 at the trot, maybe one or two at the gallop, and then 10 min. Of dismounted marching and 10 min. Of rest. Both encouraged grazing during rest periods if possible. Using this system they were able to keep horses sound covering 30-40 miles/day for days on end. And have the horses sound when they returned to garrison.

Give your horse a chance to do what's bred to do.

G.
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    04-19-2013, 11:54 AM
  #14
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by demonwolfmoon    
Can someone point me in the direction of some research please?

We just found out that our Camelot horse may be a gaited horse which has been ridden as non gaited (aka, allowed to trot etc). My husband, who has taken a special shine to Witch, and thinks gaiting is not all that cool, has brought up the question of whether or not the gait, or encouraging it is detrimental to the horse?

It seems as if the horse is smoothing out the ride for the rider, but at what cost? Does it cause greater impact on the horse's musculoskeletal system?

He also wonders if forcing a mare who may be 20ish to gait when she has not been previously trained to do so is possible or even feasible at this point?

Again, if anyone could give me their opinions, anecdotes or direct me to some research, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks guys! =)

What leads you to believe that she is gaited? Most truly gaited horses naturally gait, and you wouldn't be forcing them to do something any different than walk/trot/canter for a non-gaited horse... only with gaited it would be walk/foxtrot/canter (if MFT, other breeds have other types of gaits/gait descriptions... Rack, Flat Walk, Fast Walk, etc), typically. You train them to pick up their natural gait on a cue. They don't suddenly learn how to gait because the rider says so... either they do it naturally, or they don't, and if they DO, the rider can train the horse to use that specific "gait" on a specific cue.

I think the only "gait" I've ever witnessed someone try to "force" into a horse that wasn't gaited was with Saddlebreds - some are naturally prone to gaiting, while others aren't.

So... to your question - even if your horse naturally gaits (which gait "moniker" depends upon which breed/footfalls), it may be hard to train an older horse to gait under saddle when she hasn't done it in 20+ years. Like any fitness routine, it may be mentally/emotionally stressful to the horse, and learning to carry themselves in that gait with a rider may make them use their muscles in a manner that they aren't accustomed to... but otherwise, shouldn't be outright bad for her. Find a trainer who specializes in gaited horses :) You use your seat completely differently while sitting a gait... :)

P.S. Her build reminds me of a MFT :)
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    04-19-2013, 01:31 PM
  #15
Yearling
Thank you, Silly and everyone else.

I guess with my husband, if I were to conjecture, his main issue is probably that he doesn't want a gaited horse, because he thinks it looks dumb. If I were to conjecture, that is. Now, part of that may be his perception that the gait is utilized for the comfort of the human, and not necessarily the wellbeing of the animal.

Now, in my reading (I'm not generally interested in Gaited horses btw, because I never truly considered buying a horse that gaits!), I seem to remember someone mentioning that gaited horses usually have to be trained to gait consistently under saddle. I read that to mean that the horse won't just gait gait gait all the time, they have to be trained to do so. So in that instance, even if the horse is naturally gaited, it takes training to sustain it. I guess that is what led me to wonder if it is detrimental to the horse's health...because if they were meant to do it all the time...wouldn't they naturally do it...all the time?

As Guilherme says though, I guess the key would be moderation (and a helping of common sense, I'd imagine).

That being said, someone was asking if she was gaited, I said I had no clue, and I sent a video. It was that individual's opinion that the horse is probably gaited, but allowed to trot instead of keeping up the gait. Specifics about her way of motion were mentioned. So at this rate, the horse is probably about 20 years old, and used to moving the way she is used to moving. If it would be "better" for her to (re) learn to use a gait under saddle, I'd need a trainer. If she's fine the way she is, she's fine the way she is. That's where the discussion with DH comes in....if it's not "better" for her to gait, for HER, then he doesn't want to do it. If it's not better for the animal, he sees it as selfish manipulation.

However, a lot of my question was general as well. I *am* a scientist!! My curiosity has been somewhat peaked!


Is that movement, sustained by the horse, with a weight on it's back healthy?
And the answer thus far appears to be moderation ;)...but again, as a scientist, I ask, where's the research? I guess I"ll have to dig a little...
     
    04-19-2013, 06:37 PM
  #16
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by demonwolfmoon    
I guess that is what led me to wonder if it is detrimental to the horse's health...because if they were meant to do it all the time...wouldn't they naturally do it...all the time?
Gaited horses still have the ability to trot, canter and gallop (although some are better at it than others). Why would you expect then to use only one gait all the time when they have so many to choose from?

It looks like the horse you got just isn't very good at gaiting. Just like in any other discipline, breeding a horse for a particular skill doesn't guarantee that they will be good at it. If you're really concerned about possible negative effects, it would help to know what gait she's doing.
     
    04-19-2013, 06:41 PM
  #17
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by ponyboy    
Gaited horses still have the ability to trot, canter and gallop (although some are better at it than others). Why would you expect then to use only one gait all the time when they have so many to choose from?

It looks like the horse you got just isn't very good at gaiting. Just like in any other discipline, breeding a horse for a particular skill doesn't guarantee that they will be good at it. If you're really concerned about possible negative effects, it would help to know what gait she's doing.
Is that not the expectation? I am honestly wondering as a generality at this point, which is to say, not just this horse, but gaited horses in general. ;)

I will get another video of her moving though.
     
    04-19-2013, 08:30 PM
  #18
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by demonwolfmoon    
I seem to remember someone mentioning that gaited horses usually have to be trained to gait consistently under saddle. I read that to mean that the horse won't just gait gait gait all the time, they have to be trained to do so. So in that instance, even if the horse is naturally gaited, it takes training to sustain it. I guess that is what led me to wonder if it is detrimental to the horse's health...because if they were meant to do it all the time...wouldn't they naturally do it...all the time?

As Guilherme says though, I guess the key would be moderation (and a helping of common sense, I'd imagine).
Consider training a horse under saddle, non-gaited (since that is what you have experience with): you have to train the horse to WALK under saddle, you have to train the horse to TROT under saddle, and you have to train the horse to CANTER under saddle (non-gaited)... the same applies to gaited horses... which is what I was getting at.

You probably wouldn't ask any horse you are riding to canter all the time, or trot all of the time... so, no, you probably wouldn't want to have your horse in a "fast" gait all of the time, either. Most gaited horses move laterally, at the walk, and that IS their walk... so, in a sense, you'd be "gaiting" the whole time whether you are walking anyhow :)

Non-gaited horses walk in diagonal pairs. Gaited horses have a unique lateral movement.
     
    04-20-2013, 06:24 PM
  #19
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by demonwolfmoon    
Is that not the expectation?

This goes back to my earlier post, about the mistakes the gaited horse community has made. There have been a lot of gaited horse owners and breeders who expected their horses to do nothing but gait. That isn't good for the horse.. but then neither is jumping every day, doing too many sliding stops, etc. so in that respect gaiting is no different from any other activity.
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    04-20-2013, 08:20 PM
  #20
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by ponyboy    
This goes back to my earlier post, about the mistakes the gaited horse community has made. There have been a lot of gaited horse owners and breeders who expected their horses to do nothing but gait. That isn't good for the horse.. but then neither is jumping every day, doing too many sliding stops, etc. so in that respect gaiting is no different from any other activity.
That seems like an odd statement. I have had Tennessee Walkers that naturally gaited and could not trot or pace if their life depended on it... Of course we don't ask for the gait 100% of the time, but if that's all they give, then it's what the horse is most comfortable doing. IMO, there's no reason to have a gaited horse trot if its not their natural thing.
     

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