Third, the rider has to learn to ride. Go to a trail ride with lots of gaited horses and you’ll see plenty ridden by what’s best described as the “old sack of wheat” rider. They’re not riding, they’re just sitting there. They are often devotees of the “kick and jerk” school of equitation. You can imagine how this will affect way of going.
G's entire post was excellent, but I just wanted to highlight the above because it is something I have seen a LOT.
There are many, many owners of gaited horses out there who think that having a horse that moves swiftly and smoothly means that they (as a rider) do not actually have to be good riders.
As we go into a long holiday weekend, the riding trails and campgrounds will be FULL of people who fit that description. They give no thought to their own positioning in the saddle, or the total amount of weight their horse is being expected to carry during the ride.
So, in addition to the weight of the rider and (often poorly-fitted) saddle, the horse frequently has to carry the weight of saddle bags full of beer and ice. The saddle bags may get lighter during the day, but the trade-off is that the rider becomes even more deadweight.
There is often a lot of bragging amongst them about how fast
their horses can go, but often what I see is that their horses are moving at a rack or pace rather than a true "running walk."
Happily, I don't see those particular people more than once a year or so. . .sadly, they are almost always on a new horse and don't speak of the whereabouts of their previous horses.