Now I need MORE advice with my TWH - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-21-2014, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Now I need MORE advice with my TWH

So i've posted here before about various problems and thanks to all your help, various online things, and other people IRL i've been able to successfully get my TWH Skyy to gait. He will do a flatwalk/dogwalk and a RW. I had to change bits to a walking horse bit from the snaffle but once I did he was like a different horse. Although he sometimes paces we have made a significant improvement, i correct him right away, and we are gaiting away.

Now onto my questions...I have been getting help with a nongaited horse trainer. She 'knows' gaited horses but is not a gaited trainer. I've also gotten help with a gaited trainer. There IS a difference as i'm sure people know. I am SO conflicted on what to do with my horse.

I never got him for the glide ride. It was just a perk (Although now it seems like it's more of an annoyance but you'll read why) . I honestly LOVED his temperament and did a lot of trail riding. I could NEVER ever get rid of him and I cannot afford another horse. His personality is the best and he literally has no bad vices. I'm not just saying that. He's the horse anyone can ride and you really form a strong bond with.

I want to get into showing but can I ONLY show in gaited classes? - He LOVES to jump and we have been working on his canter but it does need improvement. TWHs are said to be so versatile and my nongaited horse trainer says I can do gaited classes and let him pace in others - so I could still compete in other things....?

He is NOT a speed horse (barrels poles etc). - He is HUGE 17hh but amazing. As far as western and english disciplines can I ONLY do gaited stuff? I thought I could do a BUNCH of different things with him and the gaited trainer told me I cannot let him lope/canter and the pace is an inferior gait. He also said that he isn't built to do a rocking horse canter. I know all about the pace and how awful it is to ride, what it looks like, etc. BUT NONgaited horse lady says I can ride it for fun (though its not really fun to ride) and I could do jumping with it (I guess instead of a trot?)

I really dont' care what we do but i'd hate to limit myself to just gaited classes. (honestly I will probably never own a gaited horse after this because I feel so extremely discouraged on what I can and can't do and if I didn't love him to the moon and back i'd get another horse more for what i'm looking for) Gaited classes realllly don't tickle my fancy but it's been my DREAM to show. Never had a horse as a kid finally living the dream now. Can FINALLY show this year.....I don't' even care if I win. Just the experience...

At the open shows by me they have speed jumping and I would DIE to do that with him because he's so naturally talented at it. Jumps no problem - lady who owned him before did some jumping and I work with him free jumping just because he loves is to much. That would be my ulimate awesome thing. Not like hunter jumper or anything fancy. Just for fun jumping.

ALSO - he does perfect trot canter transitions on the ground when I free jump him. Obviously when I ride this is not the case and he often paces (nongaited trainer had me riding in the pace for a long while before I told her about how i wanted to work on his gait because I didn't wanna screw him up and started to doubt her)

So I guess after all that my questions are:
  • Can he Canter? (He does but will it ruin him?)
  • What classes besides gaited ones can I show him in?
  • Can I ride him in the pace/let him pace under saddle/pace instead of trot? (not that I like him too)
  • Could I ever compete for fun doing speed jumping (NOTHING jumping professionally like fun shows or around the barn)
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 07:26 AM
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You can canter your TWH and not wreck his gaits. They often have a wonderful easy canter and canter work might even improve his gaits. They are very multi gaited and I find it is just a matter of getting across to them what you want, they can do so many (including ones you dont want). It depends more on getting them in the right amount of collection and back frame and carriage to get the different ones. Hollow their backs and raise the head and you have pace, very round and low and you have a trot, in between you have a run walk. The curb bit you changed to has helped you achieve the different collection and carriage which is why he seemed a different horse when you used it.

One other event you could compete in without trotting is reining. Not high level obviously but getting through the pattern is a challenge.

If his hocks and stifles seem strong enough to stand up to jumping then why not?

If he is happy trotting when you want him to then why not just train at ALL the gaits? You will need to be clear with him when you want him to trot as opposed to pace or runwalk or rack (he will be able to do that too). That will depend on you being clear about your cues for each gait. Trotting could be simple enough as you would be rising. That would be quite a challenge.

Have fun with your horse. Try different things. Good collected and light on the bit riding wont "wreck" a horse, gaited or not.

It sounds like you have a fabulous horse. Temperament is everything. Lots of practice and training to get the different gaits when you want them and to work out what clear distinct aids are needed for each gait. Wouldnt it be great to be able to compete in gaited AND non gaited classes?
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post #3 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 08:25 AM
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I had a TWH-cross as a teen. He was small and gaited, people thought he was a paso (pasos are really common where I'm from so all smallish gaited horses were assumed to be a paso but he didn't move like one). He did all the speed events with me, as well as gaited events. He jumped a little too.

You may just need to find a trainer who is of a compatible mindset.
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-22-2014, 09:09 AM
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You asked:

Can he Canter? (He does but will it ruin him?)

If he is giving you a correct, three beat canter then you are good to go. This gait will not "ruin" the running walk; it will likely improve it as it builds wind and overfall fitness. One of the THE major reasons Walkers don't "walk" is that they weak and out of shape.

What classes besides gaited ones can I show him in?

In theory you can show him in any class you wish. As a practical matter if the class rules call for a "rising trot" and you don't do one then you lose points. Some judges will adjust for gait but some will not. Some gaited folks become "incensed" by this failure but in the Great Scheme of Things show rules are show rules. It would be unfair to other participants to modify the rules for a gaited horse (unless the rules specifically permit such modification).

Can I ride him in the pace/let him pace under saddle/pace instead of trot? (not that I like him too)

Yes, you can, but that can have adverse effects on the quality of gait, pulling it to the lateral. IMO teaching the trot does not adversely affect gait in a lateral horse (but may in a diagonal horse for the same reason that permitting the trot can be adverse). Teaching the trot is a very good way to break up a "hard pace" and permit a very lateral horse to perform the three beat canter.

Could I ever compete for fun doing speed jumping (NOTHING jumping professionally like fun shows or around the barn)

If the horse is conformed to take the "gaff" of jumping then I don't see why not. Of course now you let all that "gaited training stuff" stay in the tack room and you ride your horse like a jumping TB or WB.

A Walker with a centered gait is a remarkably versatile horse that can perform a bunch of different jobs. The human has to astute enough to correctly identify the horse's ability(ies) and then train properly to use them (training here is for horse AND rider).

I don't see anything you wish to do as necessarily outside the capability of a well conformed and trained Walker.

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post #5 of 12 Old 03-23-2014, 11:35 PM
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Just to add. I find that county open shows are more "open" to breed versitality and classes therein. Something perhaps to start with. However judges till frown at a pacer in a hunter style class. If you want to show your TWH in a hunter class its best if they do a solid trot. In some areas (depending what is popular in your area) open shows will have classes specifically for pacing animals. I used to show my late mare in Open Pleasure Pace classes (either western or english) in Womens Country Pleasure Pace and if there is a classes specificaly for Western style or English style then I will enter one of the two. I would also enter trail classes (not gait specific)and moldel horse classes (either open to all breeds or if there is a model class for gaited variety I will enter that one instead) I used to ride a half TWH and half TB mare that did well in Hunter on the flat classes but was not much of a jumper. (her heart just wasnt into it) then I would show her in Pleasure park classes from time to time.

Oh and just some extra FYI One can indeed post at the pace. Its a little odd feeling due to more a side to side motion than an up and down but it can be done.
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"The question is not, can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, can they suffer?" Jeremy Bentham
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-25-2014, 03:35 PM
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Walkers can do most anything. Some people use them even in dressage.

A girl I know shows her walker in jumping and does well...she said she just canters everywhere so the judges dont see its a walker and no one knows and she gets judged fairly. I jump my mare over canola in the fields in the summer and once I have my baby I plan to bring her in and teach her to jump regular jumps -she loves it.

There is also versatility, barrel racing, lots of other types of show that arent based solely on the horses trot that you can get around. One of the best things about walkers is their versatility and willingness to learn ... so i whole heartedly agree with expanding on that and challenging your horse in more ways than just their gait itself.

Have fun and goodluck!!
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-25-2014, 09:14 PM
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I'm new here but wanted to give my two cents.

We used to have a lovely TWH/Paso cross. She had super smooth nice gaits....including a trot and canter. We showed her hunters quite often and she would place well...assuming the judge never saw the gait. She also did jumpers, running events, trail classes, driving classes, gaited classes. We never really showed her in trotting classes. Currently she is doing gaited dressage with her new owner.

My current SSH/TWH has multiple flat shod and open shod championships from Shellbyville. He is amazing in the show ring if I don't over school him. To keep him in shape we do team penning and ranch sorting, trail class, running events (slow but entertaining), reining, and are starting gaited dressage. He walk, gaits, canters (all gaits can go slow or fast for him).

My husbands horse does cattle work and mounted shooting. (She is more trail bred rather than show bred so could do more than my horse, but my husband isn't into it.)

A lot will depend on what area you are and what the "culture" of your show rings are like. I used to get a lot of strange looks when I warmed up my gaited horses for traditional events, but at this point the looks have more to do with the fact my horse has trouble keeping his front feet on the ground and looks like he is ready to bolt half the time than the fact he doesn't trot.
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post #8 of 12 Old 03-26-2014, 10:09 AM
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totally agree toomanyhorses. We show here in Alberta in Breed shows but our philosophy is on the trail and on the rail. I love riding my palomino mare and watching her shake that head while we chase cows.

We don't do any more than a trail pleasure shoe here at our shows (i go barefoot or in a keg shoe typically) and the clubs go on trail rides together, do clinics, and mountain rides. It is a great way to build your horses versatility.

My husband rides a walker who is out of Skywatch, multiple champion and just awesome -but like yours, he isn't that in to it (he will suit up and show for me if I ask him, but never on his own lol) but mainly he just rides the trails to please me.
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-26-2014, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you!

Thank you SO much for your advice everyone. It's been such a load off my mind. I love my boy to DEATH. Skyy is such a pleaser and always tries his best to do what I ask of him. I always felt like he had so much more potential and i'd hate to just limit him to his fw & rw! He can clearly do it all and does it well but I was so scared to "ruin" him.

I have posted his pace before and thats what I was working on before getting him to gait. Although I would rather teach him to trot under saddle since he can do it so well when I free lunge him. I figure why not. He knows the cue for it when i'm on the ground a kissing noise~ but if I hop on he usually trots for a bit then paces. I think he isn't used to doing it with a rider so it's just easier for him to resort to the pace. I was thinking of getting side reins to help him develop muscles better? But i'm not sure...

My BIGGEST reason for not wanting him to pace is it really screws up his canter transitions. Not to mention it throws me around to no end and he can go like 100mph in it. Not really but you get my drift. It's a hardddd pace and he transitions so well from the trot to the canter and vice versa on the ground without his legs misfiring.

I'm not even opposed to him doing barrels because he wraps himself around them so well he's just so big lol I would honestly do everything I possibly could with him because he's just so smart and loves to please. I feel like he CAN do it all. Sounds cheesy but it's true. Sure there might be some things he's better at than others but I always thought of him as versatile.

I would primarily be riding in Open and Fun shows with my saddle club and these are the classes offered:

2014 Sullivan Saddle Club Open Shows on


2014 Sullivan Saddle Club Fun Shows on

As for as what I think/I want to do:
  • Open Model Halter (Non Stock Horses)?
  • Open English Equitation <----Trot only/Pace deducts points?
  • Open English Pleasure <----Trot only/Pace deducts points?
  • Gaited Pleasure
  • Adult Walk/Trot <---- Goes without saying we can only do this if he trots lol
  • Adult Pleasure <---- So is this western? Does he need to trot?
  • Speed Jumping Course <--- I REALLY WANT TO DO THIS!!!!
  • Versatility (Non Stock Horses) <---- No idea what you do in this class.
  • Speed & Action <---- Same here What do I do in this class?
  • and they have the standard flags, barrels, and poles.

Sorry for my obnoxious list I just though I could post EVERYTHING we are/could be capable of doing? and someone could tell me what gaits he would need to preform LOL Sorrrrrry i'm such a newbie.
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-30-2014, 02:40 AM
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Well, a lot of this also depends on what tack you own or plan to buy, as you'll need a hunt seat (close contact) saddle for several of these classes, and a cutback (lane fox) equitation saddle for the gaited classes.

I'll do my best here:
  • Open Model Halter (Non Stock Horses) - A model class is one in which only the conformation of the horse is judged. Halter for any non-stock breed means any breeds other than quarter horses/paints/western stock horses (unless it's a draft horse show, where drafts are considered stock horses), yes, you can do this, I believe walking horses should be shown in the same halter style as saddlebreds or morgans, or in their english show bridle, and for open model, you'd choose the style halter best suited for your breed. Here's a page that has several instances of TWH show halters/bridles: Stallions You will need to teach the horse how to "park out" as that is how walking horses are shown in halter, here's two methods for that:
    The last video shows the second method on a saddled horse, you can see he presses down on the withers while asking the horse to place his front legs forward. You'll probably have to use a combination of both for starting out. You'll probably be competing against arabians, ponies, and drafts, if it's like any of the open horse shows I used to attend.
  • Open English Equitation - You have to trot in this class, so unless your horse can learn to trot in saddle, this is not a good choice. That being said, my walking horse trotted just fine. Some walkers tend to be natural trotters, others are natural pacers. If your horse trots in the pasture, then he can learn to do it in saddle. Start on the lunge line and teach him voice commands, when he associates the command "trot" to the trot on the lunge line, then you can ask for it with the same command while riding. If he breaks into a pace instead, take him back to the walk and ask for the trot again. Any time he breaks into the pace, go back to walk, and ask for trot again. He will learn.
  • Open English Pleasure - Requires a trot. BUT - Ask the club if it's saddleseat english pleasure, or huntseat english pleasure, it's has to be one or the other, and you'll want to know, as they are two totally different classes. Chances are that it's hunt seat, and requires a trot, so again, back to the previous class, train to trot. I say it's likely hunt seat, as your next class posted is gaited pleasure, so PROBABLY they would not have a saddleseat pleasure plus a gaited pleasure at an open show (where a lot of horses there are western horses)
  • Gaited Pleasure - Gaited Pleasure the horse must do one of the following: Single Foot, Slow Gait, Rack, Running Walk, Paso Corto, Foxtrot
    when favored gait is called for. It's a flat walk and gait class, no cantering, trotting, or pacing.
  • Adult Walk/Trot - This is also probably a heat seat class, you'll need an english hunt seat (close contact) type saddle for it.
  • Adult Pleasure - could be english or western or both, or either, depending on your area, best to ask the club than to speculate. Either way, it probably will ask for a trot, but it's a good class where often you can show a gait and the judges will be fair, as if it's truly an OPEN pleasure class, the horses will be judged more on their training and how comfortable they are to ride, than a critique of their gaits.
  • Speed Jumping Course - you can TOTALLY do this, you canter when jumping so it's a non-issue.
  • Equitation - Judged on your riding ability/skills and not on the horse. Ask the club if it's english or western equitation, and if gaited breeds can enter it.
  • Speed & Action - A speed/racing class for stock horses where they enter, run between cones, then slide to a stop in a box. It's part speed racing, and part reining, you CAN do it with a gaited horse. Here's a video example:
    there's no reason why you can't do it at any gait, but GALLOPING is the gait you want. I'm pretty darn sure that a walking horse would make a FINE reining horse, they are built to get their hind ends under them, so it's just a matter of training the sliding stop!
  • and they have the standard flags, barrels, and poles - which you can do all of as it's just galloping/cantering at top speed while aiming at targets you dodge around, while trying not to get yourself or your horse injured.

Don't let that walking horse trainer tell you anything. Most of them are truly terrible people with no imagination who are set in their [abusive] ways and think that is the only way to do things. A walking horse is fully capable of doing 6 solid gaits, some can do 7. Walk, trot, foxtrot, pace, stepping pace, canter, gallop, running walk, rack (singlefoot), and speed rack are all gaits walking horses have been known to do. MUCH of it comes down to what their bodies are conditioned for (different muscles strengthened in different ways leads to different gaits - and THIS is the sole valid reason why walking horse trainers tell riders to never let their horses trot under saddle, it strengthens muscles that make it EASIER to trot than to gait - thus why VOCAL COMMANDS are so darn handy to teach your horse), what tack they are riding in (how far back the rider sits, how much flexion the bit gives, etc), how they are ridden (the riders aids like contact, cues, pressure, commands, and the skill of the rider), and what they have been trained to do (much much of it all artificially with the use of a ton of gadgets like stretchies, chains, rollers, bitting rigs, weighted shoes, etc).
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flat walk , gait , pace , running walk , twh

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