Riding Gaited Horses.....

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Riding Gaited Horses.....

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  • Why ride gaited
  • Ride gaited horse without bit

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    07-18-2009, 07:07 PM
Riding Gaited Horses.....

Although I will likely not be getting another horse for a number of years, I have always been interested in gaited horses.

I have been told that gaited horses need to be ridden differently than non-gaited horses in order for them to preform their gait correctly. The only experience I have with this is a Missouri Fox trotter who seemed to gait just fine regardless of my lack of knowledge, but I don't know if he was the norm.

Is there a "special" way to ride gaited horses?
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    07-18-2009, 07:49 PM
Green Broke
Well, there are a few things you should do when riding gaited breeds.

First, collection. Yes, many gaited horses can gait fine without contact, but--if you are ever have problems with their gait, try collecting them (not to be confused with being in their mouths). When you collect them, try asking for a faster pace.
Secondly, DO NOT LEAN FORWARD! When riding TWHs it's best to use a nice deep seat. When a horse gaits, it's butt is lowered. I find whenever my horse is having a "lazy gaiting day", if you maybe raise a rein next to their butt or tap them with it (not hit or beat),they will lower their butts and smoothe out. But make sure they don't get used to this--then they may begin ignoreing it or fearing it, depending on how you choose to use it.
Gaited saddles are great saddles to use; designed especially for the movement of their body. Also, as seen in showing, the cutback saddle is a good saddle to practice in. It allows free movement in their shoulders, and gives the rider a deep seat which is BEST for a gaited horse. You do not have to use them, it is only a suggestion. Many do fine with regular everyday saddles.
If people say you absolutely HAVE to use curbs on gaited horses, they are wrong. They will gait with anything, but curbs are known to aid in better head positioning that helps gaited breeds to perform their gait.

Hope this helped--happy gaiting!
    07-18-2009, 07:57 PM
The sitting back thing is helpful advice. When I rode the fox trotter I was never quite sure what I was supposed to do with my body while he was gaiting.

I went to a largish TWH show a few years ago and noticed that with the younger horses they were using curbs and had way more contact with their moths than I am used to seeing while riding western (coming from a stock horse background).

So that was to help the horses gait better?
    07-18-2009, 08:00 PM
Green Broke
The curb helps bring the forehand closer to the vertical, and head tipped back towards the vertical which helps them pick up their front end and gait better, so yes.
    07-19-2009, 07:57 PM
Thanks for asking this question, sillysally. And thanks for the informative responses, sunny. It was really helpful to me, as well. :)
    07-19-2009, 08:40 PM
Green Broke
^^ No problem :)
    07-20-2009, 09:54 AM
As to getting the best gait out of our gaited breeds...you do need collection, and the fastest way to do that is to use a shanked bit. The horses will tuck up with any type of a shanked bit with curb chain, compared to a snaffle type bit. I've been raising/training Rocky Mtn. Horses for eight years now, and I do ride in curb bits at times...but I also spend lots of time doing exercises (like the ones dressage riders use), so that the horse really pushes from their hindquarters and then gives to the bit on the front end. My horses will all gait in a halter if I ask...some will collect better than others, of course, based on training. I do lots of work with my young stock in a bosal...another tool that helps the horse collect, without hurting their mouths (the bosal puts pressure on nose and jaw). I've been retraining an older mare lately, and use a regular snaffle bit on her... After lots of head bending exercises, plus exercises as I'm moving (putting pressure on the reins to get vertical flexion, then releasing when she gives to the pressure), I'm finally getting a soft mouth on the mare. She gaits quite nicely with slack on the reins. Folks who get into gaited horses need to realize that, though the gait is natural to the horse, our weight and balance can throw them out of gait. It's our job to be better riders, who can ask the horse (with our bodies) to stay in gait. We can use our hands, legs, weight shifts, to help the horse stay in the best gait for that breed (or the one that they're most comfortable in). So much to learn, but in the end, such a smoother ride!

    07-20-2009, 10:16 AM
I have Rockys as well Some gaited horses do need to be brought into gait as I call it. They will lope and gallop just like any other horse. Its the trot that is sort of difficult for them. Its great for the rider because there is no need to post. Some gaited horses can get sort of bouncy in a rack. That's when you want to achieve collection with the seat and hands, not by the hands alone. By tilting the pelvis, shift more weight to the back of the saddle and drawing the head in to a slight vertical tuck, the horse collects and should go into a 4 beat gait.
Its sort of like both the rider and the horse collect is the best way I think to put it
Here is a good photo of the "tucked" position.

You still want to maintain the ear to heel position that you would on any type of horse
    07-22-2009, 04:04 PM
Is a well broke gaited horse hard to keep in its gait? The fox trotter I rode always seemed very happy to gait and would do it forever if you let him--is he the exception or it that normal?
    07-22-2009, 04:06 PM
Green Broke
It depends on the horse. Most 'gaiteds' will gait without a problem. It's a great way to travel :)

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