help getting into "gait"

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help getting into "gait"

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    09-03-2010, 08:53 AM
help getting into "gait"

I am a QH rider. I have recently gotten a TWH. My hubby also has a TWH, and he has ridden TWH all his life.

M problems is...... I cannot get my mare into the "gait" that is soooo smooth. When I ride her I cluck her up, putting just a small amount of pull pressure on her mouth for her to brace against, then push her forward with my legs. This is how my hubby learned years ago when he showed TWH and how he tells me to ride her. He can get on her and she does beautifully and is so smooth he says. I cannot get her to stay smooth, I ride and do exactly as he says, she will hit a couple of strides and be so smooth, then she blows up and is rough.

Does anyone out there in the gaited world have any advise for me. I have ridden another TWH that was a great trail horse and could easly get him into the smooth walk and running walk. But my mare is sooo very hard to get there. HELP

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    09-03-2010, 09:56 AM
I don't ride Walkers, but I do ride Rockys. When I push them into a gait, I collect the reins to the point that I can JUST feel their mouth, I want a straight line from the bit to my elbow, but not a TIGHT line. I keep a balanced seat and cue with my legs and seat. When she goes into the smooth gait initially, what exactly do you do? The rhythm for riding a gaited horse is definitely different than with a trotting horse,lol. Do you collect her too much? Throw her away by letting the reins go slack? Cue her too much with your legs? These are all things I had to get through when I started riding gaited horses. Are you bouncing? If you're having an issue getting in rhythm with her it could cause her to be rough as well. How about saddle fit? If it is pinching or uncomfortable she is not moving out as she should.
    09-03-2010, 10:08 AM
Haha... sorta all of the above!! I have tried keeping JUST a small amount of tension on the reins as you said. Not really pulling back, just keeping good contact..... and I've let them go slack when she gets into the gait. (that is what her former owner said to do). I push with my legs and seat, but haven't really bounced. Thanks for your imput, maybe someone out there will have the answer for me.

    09-04-2010, 08:29 AM
Obtaining gait is a complex problem because there are many things that can prevent it, including poor breeding.

First, review the basics (correctly fitting and adjusted tack, anatomically correct hoof trimming, normal shoeing, horse fit and with no pain isssues, etc.). None of these things will make a horse gait correctly, but any one can prevent it.

Second, review rider practices. Ensure the rider is sitting squarely and balanced (a la Sally Swift).

Most Walkers are laterally gaited. They tend to the pacing side of the gait continuum. This requires that the back is neutral to slightly ventroflexed. If you bascule a horse like this they will trot. They can't help it; it's equine biomechanics. So when we talk of "collection" in laterally gaited horses we don't mean "bascule" we mean "not strung out." Folks moving from trotting horses sometimes need some time to learn to feel and understand this difference.

You are correct in pushing the horse to the bit with seat and leg and "feeling" the mouth. This is a good beginning. Many gaited horses like to work off the bit and don't do well on loose reins (some other do quite well that way).

(I've not asked about the type of bit. Personally, I don't like the 8" shank monsters that many Walker folks use. Nor do I care much for twisted wire mouthpieces. This is, however, a separate discussion. If you keep the hand soft you can use what you like. Of course what you use will have an influence on how the horse goes, how it turns, etc. The bit should be appropriate to the task at hand. Just more of the complexity, don't you know. )

If dropping the rein causes a negative change in way of going then don't drop the rein (I don't care what an earlier owner said or what some trainer says or what some self styled expert says). If you drop the rein and the horse changes in a way that is not satisfactory then don't do that.

You ride a Walker just like you ride any other good horse. You sit in the middle, stay balanced, and keep the aids (hand, seat, leg, balance) in accordance.

You might want to have someone video you on the horse. The video camera is the greatest rider training device ever invented. It's also the most humbling, because the lens does not lie.

Good luck in your project.


P.S. If you don't have Lee Ziegler's book then get it.
    09-04-2010, 09:58 PM
Ok, now I have a question...I have a TWH and am wondering, is it ok to try all of this using a hackamore? He is very responsive with it.

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