01-01-2011, 07:43 PM
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The OP is asking also the benefit of retraining this horse's natural gait out of him. I question the benefit of this. I think it is stressful for horses that are designe to gait to be taught to trot. I mean mentally stressful. Some don't seem to mind, but others are just hugely frustrated when they are not allowed to move the way that is easiest for them.
That which makes dressage helpful in maintaining soundness in a horse is that it is like any other gymnastic conditioning; it is tiered and works along a logical progressions that builds the horse's conditioning such that it becomes able to handle the next more difficult demands. AND , of course, the primary focus is on teaching the horse to carry more of its' weight on its' hind legs and have better balance with a rider aboard.
I would think that you might be able to work on many of the training steps even with your horse gaiting. Don't they have dressage for gaited horses? If so, are they gaiting through the tests, or trotting?
Anyway, whatever you did, you would want to start into it gradually. Especially, doing a lot of circle work. But doing it slowly and working on lots of transitions up and down and as the horse got stronger, some lateral work , would no doubt be helpful.
My experience with gaited horses is limited. One thing I have noticed about them is that they can move like the dickens in the forward direction, but do anything that askes them to move sideways and they seem really stiff and seem to step all over themselves. For them, stepping the hind end forward and under the bellly (as is a goal in dressage bending) seems really hard.