getting my horse to gait

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getting my horse to gait

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  • Howtogetmyhorsein his gait
  • How to keep a horse in a gait

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    10-05-2010, 07:39 PM
getting my horse to gait

I bought a 13.2hh pony and he was sold to me as a pinto. When we got him home I discovered not only did he trot and canter, he did some other weird things as well. At that point, I was only like 11 years old and had no idea what gaiting was and that there was such a thing as horses with gaits other than walk, trot, canter. But I took him to a show a few months later and someone mentioned to me that they thought he was a paso fino. After extensive research, I've come to the conclusion that he most likely is a paso. Is there any way to get my horse to do his gaits on command?? He likes to switch back and forth between a trot and a pace and something else, and he also racks I believe. So at shows its kind of difficult to go from posting a trot to sitting a pace and then something in between where it feels like a pace/trot.... sometimes if I ride him saddleseat and hold his head in but push him forward he will pace, but not always... any tips??
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    10-06-2010, 09:24 AM
What's working for me is just consistency.

When he gaits, he gets LOTS of praise and rewards (at first you might need someone on the ground to confirm when he is gaiting and when he's doing something else. I got mine with no experience in the gaited world, and it took me a while just to understand from the saddle what his feet were actually doing).

Once he realizes gait=good he'll give it to you more often, and then you can start bringing him back down to a walk when he trots or paces, and re-ask until he gaits instead. But he needs to know gait=good before he'll understand why you're re-asking.

If you aren't getting the gait at all, start with learning to control his feet with your legs at the walk - press your leg against his side as he steps forward with his hind leg. Then work on speeding that up, slowly over time, while keeping the 4-beat rhythm - until he finally breaks into the gait without going to a trot or pace.

Don't expect a gait for a long period of time for a while. Gaits use different muscles, so it takes time to build them up. Initially be glad for just a few steps, then work on increasing it once you can consistently get it when you ask.

There are some ways of breaking the pacing, too, which I'm not too familiar with, as so far I haven't had that problem with him (he does pace coming down from a canter, but I think that's a symptom of him cross-cantering, so I'm working to fix that first).

I highly recommend Gaits of Gold by Brenda Imus. The books gives some exercises for strengthening the muscles a horse needs to gait, and getting them used to lateral motion. It also has some discussion about how to stop the trot and the pace.

In my journey, I've had good luck asking questions in the Gaited Horses forum (under Breeds). There are a lot of knowlegeable gaited riders and trainers there.

Good luck. Just be patient and consistent. It will come.
    10-06-2010, 11:13 AM
Riding in tall grass can sometimes help keep them in gait. If he's trotty, trying to get him gaiting downhill can be helpful. If he's pace take him uphill. Something that helped Jack and I is WALKING. He's a KMSH and their gait has the same footfall and uses a lot of the same muscles as a walk so you can actually strengthen those muscles by walking. The object is to gradually increase the speed of the walk over time until they smoothly transition into the gait. Only ask for a few strides of gait at a time and gradually increase the amount of time spent gaiting. My boy was VERY trotty, but after a month or so of this he started gaiting consistently and hasn't quit, half the time he gaits while lunging.
    10-06-2010, 11:23 AM
Also one thing I've heard is to leave their feet slightly longer than where you would have a non-gaited horse trimmed.
I didn't pay much attention, and had my farrier do a normal trim. We were consistently gaiting for a week prior to that, and after the trim the gait became very difficult to get - he just wanted to trot.
Next trim I'm going to ask her to leave his feet slightly longer.
    10-06-2010, 11:37 AM
Shenandoah is right, you do want to find a farrier that has experience with gaited horses if at all possible. It also depends on the horses natural conformation so I can't give you specific angles to trim to since it might be right for my boy but not yours.

gaited horses, gaiting, transitioning

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