What breed of gaited horse?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 03-09-2013, 05:23 AM Thread Starter
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What breed of gaited horse??

Hey everyone, I am looking for a good gelding, and I've been riding mostly quarter horses (except for a morab gelding for a summer) my entire life. This will be my first OWNED horse, and I was thinking about possibly getting a gaited horse. I will be doing mostly trail riding on him. What breed do you think is best for an intermediate rider on trails in the hills of Missouri? I was looking at MFT, but I'm not sure. Does anyone own a MFT and can tell me personal experiences with them? Maybe a TWH? Not sure! I am open to any advice here! Also, how different does it feel on a gaited horse then your average QH?
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post #2 of 21 Old 03-09-2013, 08:40 AM
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Basically, go try out several different breeds of gaited horses. They all gait differently and your butt might like one style of gait more than another. All of them make good trail horses with enough miles on them.
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post #3 of 21 Old 03-09-2013, 10:16 AM
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This. When I was shopping for a gaited horse I just looked at anything that fit within my age/height/price range. Ride several different ones before you buy, sometimes people who have never ridden a gaited horse think that anything that's not trotting is smooth, but once you get a few different rides under your belt you start to feel the difference between gaits and you can decide with is best for you.

Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
Basically, go try out several different breeds of gaited horses. They all gait differently and your butt might like one style of gait more than another. All of them make good trail horses with enough miles on them.
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post #4 of 21 Old 03-09-2013, 10:25 AM
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Definitely, like the others said, try a bunch before you buy! See if there are breeders of different breeds near you who would let you try or educate you about the particular breeds.
When I first got on a gaited breed, a Paso Fino, I thought she was going to explode out from under me. Her legs were moving so fast but her body hardly bouncing. I was really nervous for the first lap around the round pen, then the guy opened the gate and told me to take her around the farm x.x I thought I was going to die, this little pony was just going to shoot right out from under me!! But she didn't and after a few laps around the farm I started to really enjoy it! It was so much fun.

A few months later I got on a Criollo, who was trained fairly poorly, but I had very much the same feeling. I think gaited horses just make me anxious, I feel like I'm riding a caterpillar!
I love our Missouri Fox Trotter though, he was like riding a couch.

So definitely experiment there are so many gaits and they all feel very different.
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post #5 of 21 Old 03-09-2013, 10:11 PM
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Absolutely, try lots of them before you decide, several of each breed. That is what I intended to do but got bedazzled by a gorgeous pinto TWh and bought her. Later after riding many more gaited horses, I found out that my pretty girl did not gait nearly as well as the plain bay Peruvian that was my favorite for many years. The bay Peruvian did not have the looks to turn any heads but she had the ride and the training that made you never want to get out of the saddle. Pretty TWH looked nice in my pasture but the plain bay was the one in my trailer every ride. So look long and hard before your decide.
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post #6 of 21 Old 03-10-2013, 06:07 AM Thread Starter
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Part of me is hesitant to try a gaited breed at all because I enjoy quarter horses. I've seen a lot of posts about gaited horses not being able to canter? Is this true?
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post #7 of 21 Old 03-10-2013, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by littleerin5 View Post
Part of me is hesitant to try a gaited breed at all because I enjoy quarter horses. I've seen a lot of posts about gaited horses not being able to canter? Is this true?
All horses can canter. Alot of the gaited breeds are discouraged to canter under saddle as they want the fw, rw, ft, rack, etc solidly trained into the horse. That was the old school way of teaching but it's coming around much more.

Depending on the breed, the canter will come easier for some, harder for others. Twh's have open stifles, it looks like you park a riding lawmower between their back legs, lol, so it's harder for them to not cross fire in the canter, and, it's even harder for them to take the right lead with a rider. Their canter is more rocking chair and can be difficult to get correct. Riding the cross fire can be bumpy, imo. The mft folks can give you info on that breed as I"m not as familiar with them.

The paso's are much easier in the canter department. If you look at their conformation, their legs are directly underneath them and straight. The canter is easier and is much more "flat" to ride. Not a lot of movement and very smooth! They're also much more naturally gaited than the tw's and depending on where you live, much less expensive. In my neck of the woods they're literally giving them away. Their training can be harsh, combine that with lot's of energy and depending on your riding level and confidence can be intimidating to some.

If you like the qh personality, you'd probably like the more laid back of the gaited breeds, the tw's, mvt, rocky mountain, kentucky mountain, to name a few. To me, the paso is much more comfortable, easier in the gaits, etc, but has huge personality and needs a confident more experienced rider as they're not a very forgiving breed. Again, just my experiences and opinion.
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post #8 of 21 Old 03-10-2013, 02:33 PM
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I've owned MO fox trotters, Peruvian pasos, TN walking horses, Rocky Mountain horses, Kentucky mountain horses, and Mountain Pleasure horses. I would extend the advice give of "go try different breeds" to "go try several horses within the same breed". They can all gait differently. I rode one TWH that was horribly uncomfortable (did an awesome gait, but had too much action to be really comfortable). My husband's mountain gelding is not as comfortable as my mountain mare; his legs are much longer and he has more action, whereas my mare does what we call a "daisy clip", and shuffles along with shorter steps.

I will say the mountain horses, as a whole, tend to be more personable than the other breeds. In fact, we've owned horses for over 20 years and my husband never really got into riding until I bought my mountain mare several years ago. She won him over with her charm... :) We actually had to go buy him one of his own.

Of course, the personality depends a lot on the breeding and handling, but you can go find story after story about the mountain horse and its docile personality... they have been deemed the "golden retrievers" of the horse world.

As far as cantering: my first TWH mare had an awesome, slow, comfortable canter; and she gaited up a storm. My second one couldn't canter to save her soul...well, she did something, but it never felt like a canter! We worked for years on that canter and never got anywhere; she always crossfired. My mountain mare is the same way; her canter is horrible.... But my husband's mountain gelding has a beautiful canter...naturally collected and perfectly balanced.

Regarding the mountain horses: there is confusion regarding the various registries. For various lengths of time, the registries were "open"; I have a friend who registered her Paso as a Kentucky Mountain horse. My mare is tripled registered (Rocky, Kentucky, and Mountain Pleasure). So you really have to look at the breeding of the individual horse.

If I were going to buy a gaited horse today, I think I'd start with the Mountain Pleasure horses. While I love the Rockies, they tend to be higher priced and I think more and more of them are bred for show and color. The MP horses tend to be bred for trail riding; the focus is on the "old mountain horse" bloodlines.

The MP horses also tend to be stockier and larger than the Rockies...
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post #9 of 21 Old 03-10-2013, 04:04 PM
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Soft Gaits Primer

As an intermediate gait, In general, a trot is a trot is a trot. It can extended or collected but it remains a two beat, diagonal gait with a moment of suspension.

The soft gait, as an intermediate gait, is much more complex. It can be collected or extended; be lateral, centered, or diagonal; be with or without head nod; and can have other factors as well.

To get a visual idea of gait, take paper and pencil and draw a 6-8” straight line. Label the right end “trot” and the left end “pace.” Mark the middle and label it “center.” You now have continuum of ways of going between the trot and the pace. Individually defined gaits can be plotted on this continuum.

Gaits from the center to the right will be diagonal in nature. They are well suited to athletic pursuits, such as eventing, stock work, working equitation, dressage, etc. They are also well suited for work in rough terrain.

Gaits from the center to the left will be lateral in nature. They are well suited to work on flat terrain. They can permit fairly high speeds. Then tend to be smoother than the diagonal gaits. They are more energy intensive for the horse.

A centered gait offers reasonable athleticism and reasonable smoothness. It is not a “compromise” between the lateral and diagonal gait as much as it is a middle ground between them.

The majority of soft gaited breeds are defined by some particularly well set way of going on this continuum of gait. Some examples are the Tennessee Walking Horse performing the running walk; the Racking Horse performing the rack; the Missouri Foxtrotter performing the foxtrot; The Paso Fino performing the paso fino. Others, such as the Mountain Horses, perform a single foot which is a broadly defined gait on the continuum. Still others, such as the Mangalarga Marchador, can have multiple points on the continuum (lateral, diagonal, or centered).

This variety means that a person looking at a gaited horse must first define for themselves the task/tasks that they will be performing with the horse. In any given breed or type there will be some variation. Allen F-1, the Foundation Stallion for the TWH, was said to be nine gaited, including the trot. I’ve ridden Mangalarga Marchadors capable of performing the marcha picada (a lateral gait); the marcha batida (a diagonal gait); and the center march (an isochronal four beat gait at the dead center of the gait continuum). Most of the time, however, a given horse will perform within a relatively narrow portion of the gait continuum.

All horses, through their DNA, have a “preferred gait;” or, if you will, a “native way of going.” Timing expressed through conformation will determine what that “native gait” might be. Gait at liberty can often be very different from gait under saddle. Gait is also highly dependent upon the strength and fitness level of the horse.

Just to add the final complication, gait is also highly susceptible to manipulation by human action. Riding practices (saddle placement, rider seat, hand usage, tack usage, etc.) can move the horse left or right a limited distance on the gait continuum. Husbandry practices, particularly shoeing and trimming methods, can also move the horse some distance, lateral or diagonal. A third and often controversial method of gait alteration is the use of action devices (chains, balls, bangles, beads, heavy shoes, stacks, etc.). Combinations of these methods are common.

The advice to ride a wide variety of horse is very sound.

Good luck in searching for a suitable mount. And always keep in mind the famous bit of wisdom from the Princess: You sometimes have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince!!!


P.S.: Shameless Self Promotion Alert: The Mangalarga Marchador can be honestly described as the “Quarter Horse of Brazil” due to its large numbers in Brazil and its high degree of versatility. It doesn’t look like a QH (it’s an Iberian horse) and it doesn’t move like one (it will be a lot more comfortable to ride). But if versatility, a strong conformation, level headed temperament, and easy way of going are what you’re looking for you don’t have to go too much farther!!!

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post #10 of 21 Old 03-10-2013, 04:07 PM
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Look at a Standardbred, most can rack with minimal training and you can still trot and canter! My OTSTB trotter racks smoothly and can go at a nice trail pace or can pick up the feet and pick up some nice speed, plus he can trot and canter with no effect on his racking.

I love my Standards just because they are so versatile, I can take a nice canter across a cross country field, harness up for a nice jaunt down the road, or saddle up and use that smooth rack for a smooth and enjoyable trail ride.
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