TWH, what am I getting into?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 09:22 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Question TWH, what am I getting into??

My bf's uncle has two twh geldings. He may be sending them up to us for a few months so his back pasture can grow back. But if they come up to us we have to train them.

One was broke and was used for dog field trials. He is about 12 I believe. The other one I would not even consider green broke when he was ridden. He is about 7 or 8 now so was last rode when he was about 4. He had a habit of rearing and all around a handful.

Neither of these guys were ever professionally trained and really I am not sure how much they actually knew. The older one I could probably get ridable in a weekend. I was told he does buck when you first get on but then calms down. I'm not worried about him, I can handle a bucking horse.

The younger one is my concern. I don't do rearers. I only plan on working him on the ground for quite some time. So here is my question, what is different about training a gaited horse? I have a roundpen that is about 60ft in diameter and plan on lunging the younger one at least at first, he will have some respect issues no doubt.

They are on the quite large side of things and right now could use a little exercise as they haven't had anything other than a few pets in the last 3-4 years. I am putting two pictures in for reference, my bf in the pic is 6ft tall, so you can see how big these guys are.

So tell me everything I need to know about training these guys and how they are different from non gaited horses?
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post #2 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 10:46 AM
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If you are not concerned with refining or enhancing their "gait", there's nothing different in terms of basic training. Alot of people don't believe in lunging a gaited horse, but then alot do....I personally don't really feel there's much benefit in running ANY horse around in a circle for any length of time. They horse they used for field trials should be pretty darn broke.....I've had a couple retired from that line of work and they were awesome.
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post #3 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 10:56 AM
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My 50' pen is a little small for a gaited horse so I don't ask for much speed. Your 60' would better enable you to do so. The running walk works on the straightaway, not so well on the curves. I'm going to recommend you start both as tho they know nothing and try to fill some holes that are missing in their training, especially the younger one. The rearing could be the result of too much too soon.
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post #4 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 11:13 AM
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There's never a point in "longing" if all you're doing is "running the horse in a circle." Of course if that's what you're doing you are not really "longing" the horse, you're just tiring them out. That's a pointless exercise that has nothing but diminishing returns.

If you are intelligently working the horse, on the longe or free, you don't need much beyond 25' in diameter. The more "intimate" setting of the smaller round pen permits closer work with the horse and you can often obtain a lot more progress in a lot less time.

For most horses the round pen or the longe is not the optimum way to train for gait, anyway. Long, straight lines working along a fence line or some other "barrier" on at least one side is preferred. Again, you can do the work in other ways but it will likely take much longer.

Training for the canter is also best done in long, straight lines.

Longing or round penning sessions should not, normally, exceed 15-20 min. In very unusual circumstances they can (green or rough horses who do not submit to the discipline of the handler are examples).

The more lateral the horse the more difficult circles will be for them. This means the handler/trainer must be careful in the work. But the most laterally gaited horse can be trained on the 20m circle under saddle. They can also be trained on the "spiral" (20m-15m-10m-5m-10m-15m-20m). If they can do this under saddle they can likely do it in hand or free longing.

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post #5 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all. I use the round pen to establish respect and trust. My lunging sessions are lucky to last 5-10 minutes. I get dizzy and bored in there fast. It's basically to establish go, stop and turns.

The older horse is pretty good, he mostly just needs a refresher since he's been on 'vacation' for many years. But I will start him on the ground to make sure he knows the basics before getting on.

So I should really stick to walking in the round pen then move to a large paddock for speed beyond that to work the gait? And do these guys naturally always gait or do I need to do something special?
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post #6 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by poppy1356 View Post
And do these guys naturally always gait or do I need to do something special?
You're going to get different answers in this one.

I have three TWH's ranging in age from 17 to 25. I lost a fourth one in a really freak pasture accident when he was coming four.

The one I had trouble keeping in his running walk, under saddle, was the four year old. Once I got the chiropractor out, who adjusted his Atlas bone and his sacrum, he got his beautiful head-bobbing running walk back.

I have never had to do anything to "teach" my Walking Horses to gait, they are born knowing that. If they're not, there's some bad breeding going on that needs to be stopped, IMHO

I'm a trail rider --- not a speed racker, not a show ring person.

When I want them to gait, I sit back on my pockets, drop the reins, kiss to them, and off we go. Plain and simple, no hoo-ha. Many may disagree with that but it's been working for me for nearly 23 years and I see no reason to re-train The Boys or myself

Annnnd, just for the record, I am one of those Old Timers that my Walking Horses know how to neck rein very well and I ride with the reins in one hand, palm resting either on the horn or their neck, depending whether or not there's a saddle on someone

So, accept for the actual gaiting part, just ride/train those horses like you would any other horse. The one thing you may have to experiment with is a bit. I ride one TWH in a mechanical hackamore, the others have always worn low port curb bits with swivel shanks - swivel shanks being the operative here.

Back when I rode trotting horses I used low port curbs with swivel shanks, all thanks to a very wise and old Amishman who owned the tack shop where I spent all my extra money

Try them in bits you're comfortable using but, if those don't work, try a low port curb with 6" swivel shanks on the premise the tack shop will let you bring it back if that doesn't work either.

I doubt the Trial-broke horse wears a hackamore but if the younger one has tooth issues he may need a hackamore until his teeth get fixed.

Hope this helps
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post #7 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, that does help.

I have a hackamore and have a huge supply of bits available to me to try. They will come with their tack but their bits looked huge and evil so I may try them in something else.

I know they have no idea how to neck rein which is something I will have to work on with them. The goal is to get them trained enough for trail rides and to eventually be sold.

I'm hoping their gait doesn't spoil me for riding my horrendously bouncy arab.

One more questions that strikes me as odd. Do you normally hold the reins up high with a gaited horse? My bf is convinced this is how you do it when holding the reins with one hand. He was taught this by his uncle. I'm from H/J so this is very very different to me.
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post #8 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 01:53 PM
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I have experience with TW Horses. I learned to ride on them. My best advice is to train them normally for the most part, depending on their experience. The previous poster was correct, they gait naturally (most of them). When they "lose it" is when they are allowed to pace instead of gait. If that becomes a habit for the horse, it is hard to break. A pace is uncomfortable to say the least.

Basically, train them normally, but be specific when it comes to the gait. AFTER you have established respect and basics under saddle at the walk, then move on to the gait. Depending on the horses training, they will either gait or pace. If they pace, you need to reward them for picking up speed, but at the same time discourage the pace. I would do this by letting them have a few strides, but then bringing them back to a walk and asking again. When they do gait, let them go for longer without interference. If at any time they slip into a pace, bring them back to a walk and ask again.

A good foundation at a walk is key to their training, just like any other horse. They only big difference is teaching them to hold a gait rather than slip into a pace. Depending on the horse though, you may not even have to do that.

The bit you are referring to is probably a walking horse bit. Completely unnecessary in my opinion. Walkers can be ridden in snaffles just like any other horse. Heck, mine gaited well in a halter, so don't let anyone tell you that you need a special bit. With training, they will gait in any setup. That said, a lot of people like shanked bits for walkers, as they provide a little more leverage for headset, which can help achieve the running walk. Honestly I wouldn't worry about it. I'd stick with a snaffle, especially on the green one.

** Don't be the rider who gallops all night and never sees the horse that is beneath him **
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post #9 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Well this is looking to turn out ok then. I have shanked bits available and that's what I currently use on my horse so that shouldn't be too hard. Glad to know I don't have to use the ugly looking thing I saw. I also have regular snaffles too. Really any kind of bit at this moment.

I know the older one gaits fine, just not so sure on the younger one. I also wonder if the rearing was due to a tack issue. I love my bf's family and all but I'm not sure they are all to familiar with saddle fit and the like. They are pretty flat backed wide horses and the saddles they have, have a narrower gullet than I use on my Arab. So I will check all that out first of course.
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post #10 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by poppy1356 View Post
One more questions that strikes me as odd. Do you normally hold the reins up high with a gaited horse? My bf is convinced this is how you do it when holding the reins with one hand. He was taught this by his uncle. I'm from H/J so this is very very different to me.
No, no, and never.

I see that a lot in recent times and I honestly can't tell you why people think they need to learn that way if all they're doing is trail riding. Where's your balance when the horse jigs/spooks for one thing.

Speed rackers hold the reins up and you will see that in the show ring but, personally, I would love to duct tape somebody's arms to their sides every time I see pictures of hands held high and one rein in each hand.

I've been trail riding my entire life and nobody I've ever ridden with holds the reins like that on a gaited horse.

Except for getting the horse into its intermediate gait and holding it in that gait, just pretend you're riding your Arab

I'm sorry he's so bouncy - my old Arab has a pretty smooth little Quarter Horse jog on him but he's also the laziest Arab you'll ever see - lol

Hope you have room and $$ to keep one of the TWH's as once you start "glide riding" you'll be hooked. TWHBEA makes a sticker that says "ride one today, own one tomorrow" lol lol lol

Also, even if both horses perform the running walk, it may not feel the same on both horses. Their body structure and how far their "reach" is, can make a big difference in how the gait feels to the rider.

My 16.1H lanky/athletic built TWH doesn't feel at all like the 15.3H built-like-a-Quarter Horse TWH, yet they both perform the running walk.

The 16.1H Guy has that champagne-smooth RW that you could carry the proverbial glass of champagne and not spill it.

My 14.3H TWH is a hard lateral pacer in the field and performs the Stepping Pace, rather than the running walk. His Stepping Pace is exceptionally smooth but when he gets in a huff (we've been buds 22+ years) he will start that lateral pacing to where it feels like every capped tooth I own is going to need fixed I bring him back to a dog walk and make him start over. Generally one dog walk is enough but it depends just how upset he is with me - lol lol

He cast himself for the first time ever this morning and I had to pull him around with a lead rope, so he owes me for awhile

If the horse nods its head from side-to-side it's performing a rack or the Stepping Pace, or a plain old hard lateral pace.

If the horse bobs it's head up and down, it's performing the running walk.

There are varying degrees of nods and bobs, just depends on the horse. None of my current horses get too enthusiastic but the four year old I lost had such a big head-bob that his ears would sometimes flop

Don't be alarmed if you see the Walkers trot at liberty, that isn't uncommon. Especially if they're close to your Arab. My 16.1H champagne-smooth guy trots every time he gets beside or behind the Arab in the pasture but has never trotted in the bridle

There's some UG-LEEE bits out there for Walking Horses but if you really want to see some awful-looking bits, Google Paso Fino bits. I gag just looking at the pictures

Go with whatever makes the horse happy and keeps it in control. I have always used the low port curb with swivel shanks because they worked well on my Arab crosses, once the Amishman told me about them.

I also ride with a pretty loose rein unless we were in a parade, then I'd ask the horse to get its head up "Carosel Style". They pretty-much would keep it there with little help from me, except to get a little closer hold on the reins and some extra kissing to amp them up a bit

I am excited for you; you're going to have a really fun time with these two. I hope you can keep updating

Here's a pic of my 16.1H fella, hittin' a pretty good lick coming home. I did have one rein in each hand in this instance but, my hands are touching each other. Looking at this picture, my hands are high as far as I'm concerned but, riding him, they weren't. This was his first ride in nearly three years, so relaxing back and dropping the reins on the way home wasn't going to happen with this fella - lol lol He's a horse that will take five miles if you give him an inch.

Rusty is wearing a hackamore.

This is the horse in my avatar; this pic was taken when Duke (the 14.3H Step Pacer) was 22. He's also headed home but a lot more laid back about it - lol lol

Further to the point that you have two TWH's, two body styles, two different mindsets, although they are all very people-oriented and kind-hearted:)
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Last edited by walkinthewalk; 08-01-2012 at 02:49 PM.
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