Hi all! I am new here and although I have been a horse owner for about 15 years, I just got my first gaited horse, a 15 yr old Foxtrotter mare, this past October. I am riding her and getting to know her as much as I can, but the winter weather makes it tough sometimes!
Anyway, this may be kind of a stupid question, but can I just ride her like a "normal" (non-gaited) horse? I have read a bunch of articles on the internet about riding them into the bit and such, and although I have had some success, I really am not used to riding with so much contact. Also, she seems calmer and more willing to walk when I give her a loose rein. With contact she kinda wants to "go," especially towards home. She is a bit barn sour but I am working on that.
I just want her for enjoyable trail rides, I ride western, and normally give my horses totally slack rein at the walk. I collect them up for faster gaits though.
I guess where I am getting confused, is I was reading an article, maybe at the Gaits of Gold site, and they talk about pushing the horse into the bridle at the walk, and eventually your horse is supposed to slip into it's natural gait.
Can I just let her walk on a loose rein if I am not worried about a faster gait at this point? Or is that gaited horse taboo?
Isabelle was used as a rental horse a bit and although she has a lovely Foxtrot and sometimes a running walk, she will also go into a hard trot if you let her. Basically, I feel like I have all these lovely gears but no way to hold the right one in place once I feel it! I know that will take practice. I do have a neighbor who has Foxtrotters and she has always discouraged me from "throwing the reins away" (riding without contact) but at this moment I really just want to enjoy the horse and give her some slack rein, at least at the walk.
Sorry for the ramble! I guess what I want to know is, can I ride her at a walk on a loose rein, and then practice gaiting when I want, or do I really have to constantly push her into the bridle, even when we are walking? We are never going to be a show horse and rider, I only want to do trails. Thanks in advance!