Rein hold on gaited horses

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Rein hold on gaited horses

This is a discussion on Rein hold on gaited horses within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category
  • How to hold the reins on gaited horse
  • How to rein a gaited walking horse

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    01-07-2012, 11:53 PM
Rein hold on gaited horses

When riding a gaited horse, are you supposed to hold the reins without slack? Does this hold them in their gait?
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    01-08-2012, 12:08 AM
Originally Posted by Newby32    
When riding a gaited horse, are you supposed to hold the reins without slack? Does this hold them in their gait?
Since my riding style is more English than anything else I ride in contact. Some folks ride Western on a loose rein. I've seen English riders on a loose rein and Western riders in contact.

I don't think there's a "supposed to" rule just because it's a gaited horse. There might be "supposed to" rules that are discipline specific.

Having said that, it's been my experience over almost 30 years that most Walkers, Rackers, Marchadors, Mountain Horses, and grade gaiteds will do best in contact. I don't really know why this is; but it's been my observation. Some like to work against the bit; most just seemed to prefer being "felt" by their rider.

Experiment with your horse and do what your discipline demands and that works for you and your horse.

    01-08-2012, 12:19 AM
Thank you! I realized during a 4 hour trail ride today that my horse rides best with direct contact. A fellow rider kept telling me during our last ride that I needed to give him his head. When I give him his head, he thinks I want to go faster. He kept the pace that I desired as long as I held contact.
    01-08-2012, 09:39 AM
Green Broke
You want your horse to stay collected so you do what it takes to keep them there. I've got one that you can ride without reins at all and he'll stay collected. My other walker is fine with no contact in the flat walk but once he shifts into a running walk will hollow his back. Keep contact and he's just fine.
    01-08-2012, 10:27 AM
Originally Posted by Newby32    
Thank you! I realized during a 4 hour trail ride today that my horse rides best with direct contact. A fellow rider kept telling me during our last ride that I needed to give him his head. When I give him his head, he thinks I want to go faster. He kept the pace that I desired as long as I held contact.
We visited Brazil a few years back and visited many breeding farms. At one a lady who was with us (and a devotee of Parelli) decided to "give the horse his head." She dropped her hand and as she did so the horse dropped its head and nosed out, looking for the contact. When it didn't find it it started to speed up (trying to "catch" the bit). She was about two strides from a full blown runaway when she picked up the contact and the horse resumed its normal, excellent way of going. It was a pretty clear lesson to anyone who watched it.

"Collection" in the gaited horse is a bit different than in a trotter. If you bascule (round out) a horse you move the gait to the diagonal. You can make a pacing ASB trot if you bascule them enough. So the back in a gaited horse is going to be neutral to very slightly rounded. As long as you've got the back and front end "connected" the back end working then you're OK. This isn't Competition Dressage; don't do what they do!!!

The bit is the device for communication with the horse. Collection is but one aspect of that communication.

If your horse will collect up and gait on a loose rein then you're OK. If it won't then you'll probably have to ride in contact.

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    01-20-2012, 01:25 PM
I always hold my TWH with a tight rein while gaiting. He can walk on a loose rein but when I ask him for a gait I have to collect him up. This gets his head set where he needs it to gait well. I have ridden a variety of gaited horses and I find they all need to be collected to gait well. I have never seen any breed of gaited horse gait well on a loose rein.
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    01-22-2012, 10:36 AM
Green Broke
My SSH is exactly as Gilhermie describes. Normally, if I loosen the reins she speeds up, looking for the bit, and will get faster and faster.

I'm by no means an expert, but think this is why the curve is most often used with walking horses. The amount of contact the horse is looking for, or the amount of pressure on the reins is easier in a curb.

I personally use a medium port, but the people I bought her from used a twisted wire.

Gilhermie, thanks for your insight. You just explained what I knew to be correct, but didn't understand why. I think now, I can make the next leap with the information you just provided me. It's starting to make sense. Can you elaborate on bascule?

Thank you.
    01-22-2012, 11:20 AM
Green Broke
My SSH will not gait on a lose rein at all. She will speed up and start trotting. I've ridden her in several different set ups --a medium port curb, a D ring snaffle, a bitless bridle, a halter-- and we have the same problem when we go off contact. Her gait is best in the curb and the halter, and worst in the snaffle. If that says anything.

As far as "collection", I was told that racking horses (particularly, not sure about other gaits) cannot collect, only contain by shortening their stride. There goes dressage. I guess that's why rein contact works when they get strung out.
    01-22-2012, 01:09 PM
The rack is a gait that requires a ventroflexed back. In the dressage world that is death.

The rack requires this back because it is a very lateral gait. You can have a very modest collection and still have a rack. It will move the gait closer to the center. It will be somewhat less smooth (but still oceans more so than a trot). You will not win any blue ribbons in a Racking Show.

IMO it's also better for the long term soundness of the horse.

    01-22-2012, 05:16 PM
Originally Posted by gunslinger    
Can you elaborate on bascule?
That's the term to describe the bend on a horse as it rounds up its back. Most often the term is used to describe jumpers as jumping is when bascule is most pronounced.

With the training that I have had, a horse is encouraged to bascule on the flat by using half halts. Unfortunately I know nothing about gaited breeds so I don't know if half halts would work with them.

This is a pretty obvious illustration of a horse's bascule during a jump:

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