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Shorter riding time with TWH due to long backs?

This is a discussion on Shorter riding time with TWH due to long backs? within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category
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    01-07-2012, 09:19 PM
  #11
Banned
A vet can't look into a crystal ball and see the past, but they can certainly examine the horse for signs of wear and tear. If you're willing to pay for it (and it can get pricey), they'll take radiographs of joints to look for arthritic changes, and they'll do a full soundness exam with flexions and palpations for back pain. They should be able to tell if a horse was chemically sored (or nerved) and then will present their overall findings for you to decide whether it's worth the risk of a known problem or if you'd better keep looking. Vet checks aren't foolproof, but they sure lay the odds of finding an existing problem in your favor.
     
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    01-07-2012, 09:53 PM
  #12
Super Moderator
I learned a lot here, as I know very little about TWH's. One thing the op mentioned is her desire to learn about riding and become a more accomplished rider. If you are saying that in terms of being a dressage rider, a gaited horse might not fit well into that, (though I know that such a thing as gaited horse dressage exists).
If you want to buy a gaited horse that has been ridden correctly , so is more likely to NOT have the back issues that develop from ill riding , watch the owner ride and see is she/he has been riding him correctly. Your trainer should be there with you, on any horse hunting expidition you embark on.
     
    01-07-2012, 10:07 PM
  #13
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by silverdollarmagic    
My TWH mare's back is so short a 28" pad is almost too long for her so as Darrin said, a good many Walkers are short backed. Good luck in your search :)
My mare's back is this short, too - have to be very careful with pads and saddle placement.

I will say that I got my TWH mare when she was 11. She had always been ridden for trail & gaiting and didn't know what it was to flex or round her back. We've done a lot of walking over poles, up and down hills, backing, etc, and stopping with weight on hindquarters just to get those muscles toned up and help her carry herself a little better. It's not that she was having problems when I got her; I just believe that learning to be more collected and less hollow (and mixing up the gaits to keep the muscles toned) will help her stay sound into her old age.

She carried her head high, and the underside of her neck muscles were over-developed, and her back was hollow when she was ridden. My vet said she wasn't truly hollow-backed, but she certainly isn't rounded. I agree with the other poster's advice to watch the horse being ridden - watch the muscles of the neck, and the topline, and try to see if the horse is putting too much weight on the front end or the rear end, instead of being somewhat balanced. A gaited horse isn't going to be collected, at gait, like a quarterhorse or three-gaited horse, because they have to be a bit more relaxed than collection allows, in order to gait. However, like anything else, there are extremes and you probably don't want a horse that's only been ridden in an extreme hollow frame.

Good luck, though - I've loved every minute with my TWH and learned a lot. Best investment I ever made.
     
    01-08-2012, 01:12 PM
  #14
Weanling
Quote:
If you're willing to pay for it (and it can get pricey), they'll take radiographs of joints to look for arthritic changes, and they'll do a full soundness exam with flexions and palpations for back pain. They should be able to tell if a horse was chemically sored (or nerved) and then will present their overall findings for you to decide whether it's worth the risk of a known problem or if you'd better keep looking. Vet checks aren't foolproof, but they sure lay the odds of finding an existing problem in your favor.
thanks. That's what I was wondering. If it was possible to tell. I probably won't pay for all of that to be done. I think my best bet it just to buy from someone I trust. I do plan on getting a horse at least vet checked before I purchase though even if they don't radiographs and such. I feel better just having a vet there with me.
Quote:
A gaited horse isn't going to be collected, at gait, like a quarterhorse or three-gaited horse, because they have to be a bit more relaxed than collection allows, in order to gait. However, like anything else, there are extremes and you probably don't want a horse that's only been ridden in an extreme hollow frame.

Yes definitely. I'm the most familiar with the TWH but I know that the gaited breeds move out differently so they don't do the collection like non-gaited. But you're right, I don't want a horse that's been hollowed out its entire life by a rider. I do feel for those horses that are ridden incorrectly their whole life. But because I do want an older horse, I'd like one that's been cared for better so we can have some long riding years together. Once I buy, I will never, ever sell the horse. So I just want to know we'll have some decent riding years together.

Quote:
One thing the op mentioned is her desire to learn about riding and become a more accomplished rider. If you are saying that in terms of being a dressage rider, a gaited horse might not fit well into that, (though I know that such a thing as gaited horse dressage exists).
I'm definitely not going to be doing dressage, though I love the discipline. What I want is more of a basic understanding of riding techiniques and how a horse moves for the horse's sake and just for knowledge.
While I would like a gaited horse at some point in the future, I'm open to having a non-gaited breed of horse for pleasure and trail like a quarter horse as well. So I want to understand the gaits and movements of both breeds. You just never know who you're going to fall in love with! I can be set on a palomino TWH and end up falling head over heels for the chestnut quarter horse with the big brown eyes.
     
    01-08-2012, 01:24 PM
  #15
Weanling
[quote]The one thing I would caution with older Walking Horses, is to have the vetting include at least blood work to determine ACTH level and insulin level. Especially if the horse is a chunk and the Seller brags on the fact that it's an Easy Keeper.

TWH's are on the predisposed list for metabolic issues

[quote]
Yes I have seen horses that are so chunky they look like they are part draft. Is the term "easy keeper" a euphemism for "founders and colics easily"? I'm thinking that easy keepers are good for people who maybe live in the desert or have a lot of horses to feed. But for me, I'm in central Virginia, surrounded by grass and pasture so the easy keeper part makes me nervous.
When I've tried researching breeds that aren't easy keepers the only thing I've found is thoroughbreds. Are there other good trail breeds that aren't predisposed to gaining weight and metabolic issues?
     
    01-08-2012, 01:36 PM
  #16
Trained
In the area that I live, a lot of the TWH people mishandle their horses. I am not talking about show people; I mean regular riding folks. They leave the horses in the pasture for weeks on end without any work. Then they take them on really long rides (25 + miles) that the horses are not conditioned for. They keep them at a pretty fast gait for the entire ride. It seems more like a race than a pleasure ride. I rode with a wealthy banker on a long ride. They went at a really fast pace. When we got back, they guy's wife's horse was lame. I mentioned it to them, and they said, "Oh, he always acts like that. He's just lazy." They didn't mean any harm. They are just ignorant. The same thing can probably be said of nongaited horses; but it is easier to misuse the gaited horses because they are so smooth and easy to ride.
     
    01-08-2012, 03:40 PM
  #17
Foal
I have to respectfully disagree with you, PonyBoy...My dear friend raises Peruvian Horses.. We do not even start saddle training them until they are 4 yrs. Old. And then for the 1st whole yr. We do nothing but walk.. walk,walk, and walk walk walk... And then more walking.... We do not consider them finished until they are 6 or 7 years old. And we use many different disciplines with them.. Trail, of course, show, cattle work and even Dressage. Also the Peruvian horse is born gaited and requires no training. They coming out knowing how to Paso llano..... Its the only way they move and do not even have the trotting gene.. Also we have many sound older horses... 18, 22.... and 25 that are still on the trails. I think because we do start them so late and go slow with their training, they remain sound for many years. Just a little info for you, my friend! ;)
     
    01-08-2012, 05:01 PM
  #18
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeste    
In the area that I live, a lot of the TWH people mishandle their horses. I am not talking about show people; I mean regular riding folks. They leave the horses in the pasture for weeks on end without any work. Then they take them on really long rides (25 + miles) that the horses are not conditioned for. They keep them at a pretty fast gait for the entire ride. It seems more like a race than a pleasure ride. I rode with a wealthy banker on a long ride. They went at a really fast pace. When we got back, they guy's wife's horse was lame. I mentioned it to them, and they said, "Oh, he always acts like that. He's just lazy." They didn't mean any harm. They are just ignorant. The same thing can probably be said of nongaited horses; but it is easier to misuse the gaited horses because they are so smooth and easy to ride.
This is, sadly, very true. And the deeper you go into "Walker Country" the more true it becomes.

Buying the older Walker will be a challenge. With a good vet check by a vet who knows Walkers you'll do better. Put another way, a few dollars spent up front will save large amounts of dollars and heartache later.

Good luck in your search.

G.
     
    01-08-2012, 08:44 PM
  #19
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeste    
In the area that I live, a lot of the TWH people mishandle their horses. I am not talking about show people; I mean regular riding folks. They leave the horses in the pasture for weeks on end without any work. Then they take them on really long rides (25 + miles) that the horses are not conditioned for. They keep them at a pretty fast gait for the entire ride. It seems more like a race than a pleasure ride. I rode with a wealthy banker on a long ride. They went at a really fast pace. When we got back, they guy's wife's horse was lame. I mentioned it to them, and they said, "Oh, he always acts like that. He's just lazy." They didn't mean any harm. They are just ignorant. The same thing can probably be said of nongaited horses; but it is easier to misuse the gaited horses because they are so smooth and easy to ride.

This is exactly what I've seen time and time again. And as someone who wants to eventually buy a trail horse that is likely to be a TWH, it kind of scares me. Now that I've been into lessons for so long, it surprises me more and more how many trail riders don't have any type of formal training. They ride their horse like a person who's never driven a stick shift (grind 'em until you find 'em) which is one thing for a car but another for a living creature.

I'm sure I go overboard asking questions and researching more than I need to know but I think a lot of it is because the more I learn, the more I realize how little so many horse people know.

Gosh I started out riding at a place in Florida. This was a small farm that offered trail rides on hundreds of acres of their land. It was awesome or so I thought. They kept their horses saddled and tacked up ALL day. All day! This is in the Florida heat. I never knew you had to untack a horse, groom them, pick their hooves after each ride. I spent a lot of time at that farm and never saw any of that. I never saw anyone stop a horse in any way other than yanking back on the reins. They used to tell us before the ride to find a switch from the woods and carry it and just to hit the horse whenever it slowed down. I cringe at how hard those poor horses are ridden by the people at the farm and the people they give trail rides to. I looked them up on Google recently and according to people's complaints, they still operate the same way 20 years later. Most of their horses were TWH (tell me another breed that will allow themselves to be abused like that!) and I'm sure they were broken young and lame by the time they were 10-15. So sad.

We do have a local riding group that I could become friendly with and get a good referral on a horse that's been ridden with care.
     
    01-08-2012, 08:54 PM
  #20
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guilherme    
This is, sadly, very true. And the deeper you go into "Walker Country" the more true it becomes.

Buying the older Walker will be a challenge. With a good vet check by a vet who knows Walkers you'll do better. Put another way, a few dollars spent up front will save large amounts of dollars and heartache later.

Good luck in your search.

G.
Thank you! I know there's no way to know what will happen to a horse and even the best cared for horse can end up lame, but I know my chances are better of having a horse with a long riding life if it's been cared for in its youth.

I think a lot of people in walker country learned everything they know from spaghetti westerns. The way many of those cowboys in those old movies ride is the perfect example of how someone can be an experienced rider but a terrible rider. The yanking and jerking of the reins is horrible to watch.
     

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