Improving a Step Pace
 
 

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Improving a Step Pace

This is a discussion on Improving a Step Pace within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category
  • Stepping pace gait
  • What is a step pace in horses

 
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    07-22-2011, 03:47 PM
  #1
Green Broke
Improving a Step Pace

For the past few weeks, Baby Girl has been producing a gait I'm fairly happy with it. I'm not sure what it is. It's so smooth I figured it was a rack, but the video I took makes it look more like a step pace.

Whatever gait it is, I'm sure it could use some improvement. She carries her head like a llama and sometimes this saddle gait transforms into a hard pace, especially if I ask for it on a lose rein. (She also trots sometimes, but that's easy enough for me to correct.) I'm sure she isn't using her body as well as she could. She's always tended to pull herself around on her front end and not use her butt properly...


It's a short video of poor quality; I apologize. I slowed the gait part so it would possibly be easier to critique. If needed, I can make another video. Just say so!


     
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    07-22-2011, 04:04 PM
  #2
Weanling
Hey brighteyes, I will watch the video at home later (work computer is slow) but when my mare step paces, I recollect her head while engaging her rear end and she goes back in gait.

Have you tried setting her head when she goes out of gait? It doesn't work on every horse, but when I have Sables head set (or at least restricted so that she is moving forward with her rear) she steps out more.

In both pictures below, although her head is set at different levels in it, I am engaging her rear end (can kind of see how I am squeezing her up like theres toothpaste in my cheeks) so she gets under herself more which helps her balance and with that she drops her head, sets it and maintains gait.

Hope that helps some, either way just from the screen that video starts on it looks like she has come a long way as she is definitely pulling at the ground and that's exactly what you want.


     
    07-22-2011, 04:14 PM
  #3
Green Broke
Thank you!


So... How do I properly go about with this head setting thing?

When she use to hard pace, I figured out that by tweaking the reins --my hand position, contact--, I could get a step pace. This is my limited understanding of head set and its relation to gait. Refined, aren't I?
     
    07-22-2011, 04:24 PM
  #4
Weanling
No worries! It took me a while to figure it out and when we're cooking around it still takes effort sometimes to get the result.

First off I started just standing still on her and I would pull the reins out to the sides and up a bit, hold steady and the second she gave to the pressure and dropped her head (even the slightest try) I released the pressure and told her good job and pet her.

Then ask her again and ask her for a little more of a drop, so hold the pressure to start, she drops slightly, release and ask again right away to get it to go further .... hold pressure until she drops a little further, then release immediately and tell her she is a good girl.

Eventually she will set her head when you ask with both hands, at which point (and some people may start using only one hand right from the start. I am a firm believer that what the horse responds to and gets the job done, go with it and refine later (but if she responds to one hand rather than 2 you're aving a step)) you will start asking with one hand...if she doesnt respond to one hand, then lift the other with it, and when she responds pat her and do it again with one hand...do this until you get a result with one hand).

From there ask her to set her head while standing still, then hold it and ask her to move forward (now that you've set in her head what lifting your rein means she should respond while moving, you just hold the pressure if she doesnt until she gives). While you're moving, if she lifts her head just politely ask her to drop it again, when she responds release the pressure.

The more she understands, the more subtle you can be (on a good day with sable when she is focused, I just have to turn my wrist slightly upwards to get the set) on a bad day I lift one rein up a few inches...but when we started I had to have both hands stretched on either side of her neck and lift gently upwards...so it takes some time)

Anyways, let me know how it goes and it if helps any!
     
    07-22-2011, 05:00 PM
  #5
Yearling
One of the worst bad habits of the gaited community in the U.S. Is to misunderstand the concept of “setting the head.” The consequences of this misunderstanding are significant.

Most U.S. Gaited horse trainers will tell you that you set the head with the hand via the rein/bit. In reality if you do this you are using the force of the rider’s hand to put the head in an arbitrary position. It might be right, but vastly more often it’s wrong. In either event it puts stress into the body of horse and rider and prevents a relaxed way of going.

The better practice comes from classical dressage. Here you “set the head” by taking up the contact and using the leg to push the horse into the bit. If you do this correctly you will be able to use natural impulsion to assist the horse in maintaining a balanced and forward way of going.

This is “collection.” It comes from the leg not from the hand. Collection permits the horse to effectively use its rear end. If you’re “setting the head” with your hand then you’re also setting up “false collection.”

You cannot achieve collection until you have a strong, supple, flexible horse. This means that the rider has taken the time to develop the strength and fitness of the animal to effectively perform such standard suppling exercises as shoulder in, haunches in and out, and the other standard suppling exercises. Building the strength and fitness necessary to flexibility is not something that will done overnight. Nor will it be done when riding the horse once a week. These take multiple, modest time periods (30-45 min., 3-4 times per week, for several months). They also presume a horse of sufficient physical maturity (4-5 years old).

Note that none of this does directly addresses pace vs. stepping pace vs. running walk vs. something else. Rather it permits the horse to express the gait it was born with. This gait may or may not be what the rider wants. It does set the stage for the next step in the process.

A full, detailed “training program” for horse and rider is beyond the scope of a ‘Net forum. For anyone who wants to learn how to supple, strengthen, and collect their horse to improve their way of going they should find and commit themselves to work with a classical dressage/equitation instructor (NOT any sort of “trainer”). Do this and in six months of dedicated work you’ll have a horse that will be able to perform its native gait with ease. It will also permit the rider to modify the gait slightly towards either the trot or pace. You can’t move a whole bunch, but you can move a small amount. By “centering” the gait you make the horse’s job easier and it will last longer and have few lameness and soreness issues.

If you don’t do this and ride constantly in “false collection” you will be plagued by constant minor lameness and soreness issues. You will also be forced into the world of “devices” to “correct” gait “deficiencies.” You may win lots of blue ribbons, but your horse will pay a terrible price.

G.
     
    07-22-2011, 05:03 PM
  #6
Yearling
Well, something odd's happing.

I typed "U.S." and the post came out "you.S." Tried twice to edit it and twice the editor did the same thing.

Very strange.

G.
     
    07-26-2011, 05:57 PM
  #7
Zab
Yearling
When Crow goes too lateral, I move him sideways or mov his shoulder with my leg. He will both gait and trot on cue, but when gaiting he easily become too lateral. He used to step pace before I started to work his walk. (google ''working the walk'' and you'll probably find help there)

I try to not use the rein as much, but rather my seat, legs and weight.
     
    07-27-2011, 01:54 PM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guilherme    
One of the worst bad habits of the gaited community in the U.S. Is to misunderstand the concept of “setting the head.” The consequences of this misunderstanding are significant.

Most U.S. Gaited horse trainers will tell you that you set the head with the hand via the rein/bit. In reality if you do this you are using the force of the rider’s hand to put the head in an arbitrary position. It might be right, but vastly more often it’s wrong. In either event it puts stress into the body of horse and rider and prevents a relaxed way of going.

The better practice comes from classical dressage. Here you “set the head” by taking up the contact and using the leg to push the horse into the bit. If you do this correctly you will be able to use natural impulsion to assist the horse in maintaining a balanced and forward way of going.

This is “collection.” It comes from the leg not from the hand. Collection permits the horse to effectively use its rear end. If you’re “setting the head” with your hand then you’re also setting up “false collection.”

You cannot achieve collection until you have a strong, supple, flexible horse. This means that the rider has taken the time to develop the strength and fitness of the animal to effectively perform such standard suppling exercises as shoulder in, haunches in and out, and the other standard suppling exercises. Building the strength and fitness necessary to flexibility is not something that will done overnight. Nor will it be done when riding the horse once a week. These take multiple, modest time periods (30-45 min., 3-4 times per week, for several months). They also presume a horse of sufficient physical maturity (4-5 years old).

Note that none of this does directly addresses pace vs. stepping pace vs. running walk vs. something else. Rather it permits the horse to express the gait it was born with. This gait may or may not be what the rider wants. It does set the stage for the next step in the process.

A full, detailed “training program” for horse and rider is beyond the scope of a ‘Net forum. For anyone who wants to learn how to supple, strengthen, and collect their horse to improve their way of going they should find and commit themselves to work with a classical dressage/equitation instructor (NOT any sort of “trainer”). Do this and in six months of dedicated work you’ll have a horse that will be able to perform its native gait with ease. It will also permit the rider to modify the gait slightly towards either the trot or pace. You can’t move a whole bunch, but you can move a small amount. By “centering” the gait you make the horse’s job easier and it will last longer and have few lameness and soreness issues.

If you don’t do this and ride constantly in “false collection” you will be plagued by constant minor lameness and soreness issues. You will also be forced into the world of “devices” to “correct” gait “deficiencies.” You may win lots of blue ribbons, but your horse will pay a terrible price.

G.
"In both pictures below, although her head is set at different levels in it, I am engaging her rear end (can kind of see how I am squeezing her up like theres toothpaste in my cheeks) so she gets under herself more which helps her balance and with that she drops her head, sets it and maintains gait."

Just in case you didn't notice, Kstinson is using her seat and her legs to squeeze up Sable. She has developed a cue with her mare, using her rein, that signals the mare to set up, while she drives her up with her seat and legs. Also, she is not from the U.S.

To the OP, I'm not sure how you would improve a step pace other then consistently riding and gaiting your horse. Perhaps someone else would have a better suggestion. But that also reminds me, maybe do some hill work, so your girl has to get her butt underneath her to really drive.
     
    07-27-2011, 03:15 PM
  #9
Weanling
Rather than use two handed contact on the horse while I drive her up, I have trained my horse so that when I lift my one rein she knows what I am going to ask her next...that is to collect herself while I drive her forward. It is more subtle in a show ring and allows for her to do it on her own where she is comfortable.

G, I am not sure if you are directly referring to me or not, but given I was the only one responding at the time I will assume so. In the winters, I take Dressage lessons from an A and HA standards and Equine Canada English Coaching status Trainer, we work on bending, giving to the bit, moving away from pressure, flexing the pole...all of those things, but a horse that does not understand those cues must learn their meanings. My mare was green when I used her in lessons thus we worked on those specific things to improve her give, flexibility and form with great results.
I ride between 4-6 times a week, during the warmer months and try for 3-4 in the winter. I do not falsely carry my horse (as the goal with a walker is to ride on a loose rein while in form) and also use no gimmicks or devices other than a bit, bridle, and a saddle. I also believe that the horseforum is here to submit experiences when asked for, in my experience I have had great results with what I detailed above and felt that sharing it may help someone else in some way. By no means is my word ‘the way’ but while you are entitled to your opinion, rather than post negatively towards someone else on the forum, why not share your different experience with your own horses and what other ways have worked for you? I am interested in different training ideals and their successes and would love to hear some different methods so that I may look into them further as I am always browsing with an open mind so I can learn more!
     
    07-27-2011, 03:34 PM
  #10
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstinson    
Rather than use two handed contact on the horse while I drive her up, I have trained my horse so that when I lift my one rein she knows what I am going to ask her next...that is to collect herself while I drive her forward. It is more subtle in a show ring and allows for her to do it on her own where she is comfortable.

G, I am not sure if you are directly referring to me or not, but given I was the only one responding at the time I will assume so. In the winters, I take Dressage lessons from an A and HA standards and Equine Canada English Coaching status Trainer, we work on bending, giving to the bit, moving away from pressure, flexing the pole...all of those things, but a horse that does not understand those cues must learn their meanings. My mare was green when I used her in lessons thus we worked on those specific things to improve her give, flexibility and form with great results.
I ride between 4-6 times a week, during the warmer months and try for 3-4 in the winter. I do not falsely carry my horse (as the goal with a walker is to ride on a loose rein while in form) and also use no gimmicks or devices other than a bit, bridle, and a saddle. I also believe that the horseforum is here to submit experiences when asked for, in my experience I have had great results with what I detailed above and felt that sharing it may help someone else in some way. By no means is my word ‘the way’ but while you are entitled to your opinion, rather than post negatively towards someone else on the forum, why not share your different experience with your own horses and what other ways have worked for you? I am interested in different training ideals and their successes and would love to hear some different methods so that I may look into them further as I am always browsing with an open mind so I can learn more!
well said
     

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