Naturally gaited horse
What does it mean when someone says that the horse is "naturally gaited". I thought that a horse was either gaited or it wasn't. Can you train a horse to gait or are they born that way?
I know there are many gaited breeds, but could you breed a MFT and a quarter horse and have them produce a gaited foal? Or is it very dependent on confirmation?
Sorry about so many questions. It's just so intriguing to me! :)
(1) Every horse has a "native" way of going. Call it a "natural gait" if you will. That way of going is set by the combination of conformation and how the horse's brain tells that conformation to work.
(2) If you breed a gaited horse to a trotter you might get either as a result. Or the result may be a soft gait (i.e., not a trot) but maybe not the gait of the gaited parent. Or it may be a better or worse trot than the trot of the parent. The short answer is that this is a real crap shoot.
(3) It is possible to teach a trotter to move with a "soft gait." The ASB people do it all the time (with differing levels of training, forsce, devices, and success). The easiest gait to teach a trotter is probably a slow rack.
Gaited horses are not all that "complex" but because there are so many "variations on a theme" it can seem daunting. General conversation about "gait" is difficult for the same reason.
Specific questions are generally easier to answer. :-)
Ok, gaited horses can all gait but they aren't all created equal. A naturally gaited horse needs no help to get them to gait, they just do it on their own "naturally". Others need to be taught what you want out of them and generally require more rider attention to keep them gaiting at all times.
As a side note, when I first got into TWH 20 yrs ago the naturally gaited horses were more or less sneared at in the show circuit (just my observations). Reason being they did it so easily there was no "flash" in their movement. Of course the flashy horses were the ones winning ribbons.
For your last question, when you cross a gaited and non gaited horse it's a roll of the dice if the offspring is gaited or not. Genetics are funny that way.
[QUOTE=Darrin;1297307]Ok, gaited horses can all gait but they aren't all created equal. A naturally gaited horse needs no help to get them to gait, they just do it on their own "naturally". Others need to be taught what you want out of them and generally require more rider attention to keep them gaiting at all times.
So, are Missouri Fox Trotters and Tennessee Walkers mostly all naturally gaited? Or does it depend?
In a nutshell, no and that goes for all gaited horses. The truth is it's easier to trot or pace then it is to gait for most. For the naturally gaited horse it is reversed, gaiting for them is easier then trotting or pacing. FYI, TWH gait is a cross between a trot and pace and why I'm using that as an example. For those not naturally gaited it takes a proper collection and being muscled up to gait properly as it is work for them.
As an exercise, pick the breed you are interested in and learn what their gait looks like. Now go watch them in a pasture environment. Naturally gaited horses will be out in the pasture screwing around in gait all the time. Non naturally gaited horses will be passing in and out of gait as they move around. Under saddle both will be gaiting all the time assuming their training is completed.
What I didn't say before, not all horses of a gaited breed can gait. In rare instances you get one that just can't do it, call them a genetic throwback. In the same vein, a non-gaited breed can actually throw out a horse that has some sort of gait in it. The trick is being able to recognize that gait and working with the horse to bring it out.
Ok. That is really interesting. I would have no clue how to bring out a gait in a horse, so I am going to assume that mine is naturally gaited. I was told that he was, but I just wasn't sure what that meant. I had only ridden horses at the very bumpy beginner's trot and the first ride on my boy was like a dream. We have been on 4 trail rides and I can barely tell the transition from his walk to running walk, except for the fact that we are going faster. It is incredibly smooth. I've only been riding/ working with him for 2 1/2 weeks and he is consistent. It is very difficult to ride with the quarter horses, because I have to hold him back. When he walks, they are trotting to keep up. As I said before, I am not doing anything but sitting and enjoying the ride. Thank you for the information!
Sounds like you have a TWH. The only differences between a flat walk and running walk is overstep and speed. They are both a 4 beat gait.
I'm inclined to agree that you have a naturally gaited horse. Horses tend to listen to what the horses around them are doing and match it. Therefore it's pretty easy to pull those not naturally gaited out of their gait and into what the other horses are doing (trot in your case).
This tendency is what makes riding gaited horses with non gaited horse difficult for most. Either the non-gaited horse has to trot a lot to keep up so their owner isn't happy. Or, your gaited horse starts trotting making you unhappy (most TWH have a rough trot to add insult to injury, one board member called it the broken washing machine gait). If you have a naturally gaited walker that means your QH partner is the unhappy party but hey, that should convince them to go gaited!
Do you think there is much difference between a TWH and MFT regarding the running walk? There is no paperwork on my horse. He is curly haired (not super curly, but has the marcel wave when dry and tighter curl when sweaty). His mane and tail have a slight wave. He doesn't look like the "original" Bashkir Curly, but he looks a lot like the fox trotter curly. It's pretty rare to find this type of curly, so I think it's possible to track down where he came from.
Fortunately, there are several gaited horse owners at my barn and I will definitely be riding with them. What fun is riding a gaited horse if you have to walk so slow?! :)
Terminology is a real problem when discussing gait. The TWH signiture gait is the running walk. It is an isochronal, four beat gait (meaning pick and set down of the feet are in equal time). At any given time the horse will have three feet on the ground; this accounts for its smoothness. It is a distance gait, not a speed gait (like a rack or flying tolt). If you over-ride the gait it will shift, usually to the lateral. This gait is also perfomed by other breeds under different names. In the Mangalarga Marchador, from Brazil, it's called a Center March. It sometimes shows up in Iberian horses where it's not seen as a major problem. In horses like the QH it's considered a genetic disaster.
In theory, a running walk is a running walk. In the TWH it requires a head nod. In a Racking Horse there would not be much head nod. My Marchador mare has a very modest head nod. I don't know what the MFT standard requires or condemns. Sadly, few TWH judges would recognize a true running walk if it jumped up and bit them on the nalgas. A couple of my MFT friends say the same thing.
Riding in a group means that horses will match speed with each other. They do not match "way of going." I ride in a group of 70 plus trotters at Cavalry Competitions and my mare doesn't trot. Nor do the trotters perform a marcha. If gait were this easy to train we could unemploy a lot of trainers. :-)
Every horse has it's own way of going. It may or may not match the requirements of the a breed or judging standard.
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