For almost a year I worked with a (non-gaited/Dressage) instructor, and she spent a lot of time focusing on his trot. She said it was good to work on ALL the gaits, so he could both trot and gait on command.
I was fine with that at the time.
Then she went away for 3 months, and most of that time I worked on his gait (which is still very pacey, but he pretty much stopped trotting completely. And every once in a while we get to just gliding along in a perfect gait.). My priorities changed over that time.
Well, she's back, and I told her I was more concerned with a smooth gait than a trot, but preferred to work with her on things like my seat and body position, lateral movements (leg yields, etc), and working him through obstacles such as gates.
So I had another lesson with her, and she wanted to spend the entire time at the trot. Her claim was that the trot builds their strength for other gaits like the canter, is necessary for a well-muscled horse, and teaches them correct balance.
Obviously, most gaited horses don't trot. But is there any truth to her statement? Are there benefits to trotting over gaiting? Is it beneficial (physically) for a horse to be able to do both?
He was clearly unhappy about being asked to trot in the lesson, and I'm not particularly keen on it myself. But I don't know if she's correct, and that I should continue to build his trot and work through these issues, so that he can do both? Or should I stand firm that I don't want to trot him?
Does it make any difference that he's only half a gaited breed?
I wish I knew a gaited instructor who travels near me - but not having a trailer, my options for instructors are pretty limited