Gaited horses possibly having back problems?? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 24 Old 11-27-2012, 12:21 PM
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Not all gaited horses head nod, depends ont he gait and the horse.
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post #12 of 24 Old 11-28-2012, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by imagaitin View Post
Really? I have 2 different trainers who confirm that he does a running walk and/or a fox trot. He used to pace on occasion, but I have worked to keep him out of that. A friend whom I ride with has a RMH; his gaits are similar to my horse's, but he does like to trot on occasion as well. I have never seen either of our horses rack. Perhaps different lines within the breed differ?

A slow rack is not what people think of when they hear the word rack.

It's possible your horse does a running walk or Fox trot you said he doesn't nod his head which happens in both those gaits.
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post #13 of 24 Old 11-29-2012, 02:51 AM
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Subbing. I'm very intersted in the advice in this thread. My TWH gaits better with her head up. When it's low is not as smooth and she feels heavy on the forehand, and when it's super high she is usually trying to trot. She used to pace but we got rid of that, thank goodness. She was truly hollow when she did that.

My horse always has nodded, and a few times I have heard her clack her teeth. Her gait seems to be the smoothest then; I think it is because she is relaxed.

**I must not forget to thank the difficult horses, who made my life miserable, but who were better teachers than the well-behaved school horses who raised no problems.**
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post #14 of 24 Old 11-30-2012, 09:25 AM
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A horse's gait is first determined by it's DNA. The conformation and "brain wiring" will determine the sequence of movement.

Then the human enters the picture and can alter this "base" gait by husbandry practices (like shoeing, trimming, etc.). The human can apply devices (pads, chains, etc.). The human can use tack to alter gait (saddle positioning, bits, etc.). And the human can use riding position to alter gait (moderating pressure on the back with the seat, use of hands, etc.).

Finally the horse's fitness and strength level will determine the quality of movement.

Different gaited breeds have been selected for different movements. The Walker and Paso Fino are both gaited, but have a rather different movement.

It is well to keep in mind that there are few, if any, universal principles that apply to "gaited horses."

A horseman knows that if you continuously repeat any action beyond the horse's ability to perform that action then you're asking for trouble. In the case of the back if you continuously hold a "ventroflexed" position and don't allow the horse to "flex" by rounding from time to time that a sore back is as sure as night follows day. This is independent of breed. So a horseman mixes their gaits as they work.

For the show horse this is not such a big deal as the time in the ring is minuscule compared to the training time at home. So even extreme ventroflexion, in a properly prepared and conditioned horse, will not cause long term difficulty by itself. Move the horse to the trail and the problem becomes more complex. Here, even a minor ventroflexion will cause soreness if not relieved by gait alteration because the horse will be working for hours, not minutes. Again, this is independent of breed.

Head set can be had two ways. The classical head set is obtained by the rider using the leg to engage the hind end and "capture" it's power, then use the hand to "meter" the power to the front end. This will result in the horse balancingitself and putting its head where it can best use that power for horizontal motion (a rider can "tweek" this a bit, but not by much, or it will upset the balance). Or the rider can use the hand, in conjunction with the bit (or some other device), to "set" the head in some arbitrary position. This frequently results in back problems because the rider has disconnected the front end from the back end and sacrificed the power of the back end. This is true whether you're talking about a "peanut rolling" QH, a rollkured warmblood, or "star gazing" gaited horse.

The gaited horse world has a very bad habit of obsessing about gait, to the exclusion of the rest of the horse. While I hate to use the word "holistic" (because the Fruitcake Community has so badly abused it) a horseman always rides the whole horse. While they might have to "zero in" on some aspect to address some problem they must "put the horse back together again" before they step into the leathers.

The rules of equine biomechanics apply to gaited horses and trotting horses alike. There are some differences, but they are mostly subtle. I flatly reject the notion that "all gaited horses must have a high head set" or that "all gaited horses must be ridden in a curb bit" or any other such "universal rules." Proponents of such rules are demonstrating an ignorance of horsemanship. There are general rules within a breed (we call them "breed standards"). These "standards," however, are humanly generated and reflect a desire for certain traits. They are certainly not Rules of the Universe.

Back health is critical in any horse if they are to be able to do their job. But so is foot health, gut health, leg health, mouth health, etc. A horseman knows to be wary of arguments over which body part is most important (and for those who remember that old joke the punch line still stands ).

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post #15 of 24 Old 11-30-2012, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Amen. You wanna train my horse??

Actually, I think I found someone. And with similar opinions as yours. Thanks for the input.

"Do you give the horse its strength, or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?" (Job 39:19)
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post #16 of 24 Old 11-30-2012, 07:27 PM
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My mare travels very hollow when gaiting. Her nose is tucked and looks "pretty", but her head is still high and their is a lot of tension in her neck.

I suppose this wouldn't be a huge problem if I rode lightly. But I was conditioning for endurance riding and would gait for long periods of time to build stamina. After a couple months, I noticed her top line was looking abnormal. She had no muscle up there, especially right behind the wither. Her neck was bulky on the underside, not evenly muscled top and bottom.

So I started trotting her. Not saying everyone should trot their gaited, but it's what I did. Several weeks of trotting poles and her top line was coming along. Her gait also got better; less pacey.

Not long ago, I found another great exercise for top line. Walking with her head down. "Low and long." I asked her to drop her head and hold it very low (just above the ground). I could feel her back round out. We would walk like this for five minutes here and there during trail rides. Her gait improved more.

I progressed to trotting with her head down for intervals. Not as low as at the walk; wither level. At first, she didn't like it. Now, she does it automatically and totally on her own because it feels good to stretch her top line. It's easier to travel that way I guess.

Recently, I began to play with head down at a gait. This took convincing and we're still working on it, but I'm began to get glimpses of a real 4-beat running walk.

So yeah. I am pro head down for pacey/hollow gaited horses. I'm pro trotting in certain situations and with certain horses and riders. But I don't know much. All I know is that this works well for MY horse. ;)
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Last edited by Brighteyes; 11-30-2012 at 07:34 PM.
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post #17 of 24 Old 11-30-2012, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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I have many friends who absolutely agree with you! They tell me that trotting their horses improved their conditioning, and their lope!

Bottom line.... I believe different things work for different horses
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"Do you give the horse its strength, or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?" (Job 39:19)
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post #18 of 24 Old 12-21-2012, 10:08 AM
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Thankyou for this comment, G8tdhorse... I thought I was the only one that allowed her Peruvian to go at her own comfortable headset, and loose rein. I trail ride and think it best to let my mare lower and left her head as she needs to in order to focus on the trail ahead.... No forced head sets for my girl!
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post #19 of 24 Old 12-21-2012, 11:10 AM
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You can "set" a horse's head with the hand. Or you can set the head with the leg. In the latter case you use the leg to create impulsion and you let the horse use the head to balance itself as it uses that impulsion. Some folks call this "self carriage."

You can ride self carriage in either contact or on a loose rein. Personally I don't like "loose rein riding" as I find most gaited horses work better with some contact. I've also found that when I'm in contact with the horse's mouth I can feel changes in their way of going before they hit the legs. Contact is also a "two way street." Allowing the horse to feel the rider's hand gives the horse confidence in where the rider is and what they are doing (on either a gaited horse or a trotter). But this is "personal preference."

As long as the rider intelligently mixes their gaits as they work then the horse will not generally suffer any ill effects from any one gait. Miles done in any one gait will subject the horse to a risk of injury.

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post #20 of 24 Old 12-21-2012, 06:18 PM
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I have some horse that gait well with a low head set and some a higher headset. A horse can have his head up and still lift his back. I don't like the trotting because it developes different muscles and then they do not gait as well. There are plenty of ground exercises you can do that will lift and strenghten there back. Gaited horses can be ridden classically and trotting with a lower headsey does not equal using their back. Lots more to it.
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