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Mellow Mel 03-22-2012 04:17 PM

hard time getting him to gait...
Hey Everyone,
I have had my twh for 4 months. I had never ridden one before and bought him for his solidness, not because he was gaited. I was actually looking for a qh. When I got him I was told he was on the pacy side(meant nothing to me). I have gotten him to gait a few times...actually he did it himself. When we are out with the other horses he does this god awful thing I think is a trot and I am bouncing everywhere. I have someone coming out to give me lessons(no one at my barn has a walker) but does anyone have any tips in the meantime? I was also told that his conformation(he is downhill) makes it a big tougher for him to gait(two farriers told me that).
I always hear walker people say to "collect them up" but I guess I am not sure what or how to do that....

gunslinger 03-22-2012 09:04 PM

Hi Mel, I'm no expert by any means, but mine needs pressure on the bit, hands low just on top of the horn, a squeeze of the legs or really the feet, and a couple of clucks and she' in a flat walk. The looser the reins the faster she goes into a running walk. You might find she'll go into a gait going up a steep hill or in heavy mud. My mare is also a bit on the pacey side, and the rough gait you fell is probably pacing. I wish I had a better answer for you. Maybe the more experienced will answer.

tbrantley 03-22-2012 10:36 PM

I am not an expert but I do ride gaited horses and have trained a few young horses. One of the things I have noticed about a horse that is pacy is that they have not developed appropriate muscles to help them to gait correctly.

Here are some things that I have done to help my horses to develop his/her gait. I start out by getting my horse in shape by getting him limber, flexible and in condition. Ride or lunge your horse every day to condition him/her. When riding, work on bending exercises such as small circles and weaving obstacle courses to make the horse more agile and flexable. I also go up and down a lot of hills at a walk, that will also build muscles and get them in shape. I also allow my horses to canter. Yes, cantering your horse will help a gaited horse develop his gait. It took me a long time to figure that out but it is true.

I start by asking my horses to walk, my goal is to "walk" my horse into the gait. I walk my horse as quickly and actively as I can without letting it move up into a trot. I like to see a good head up and down forward movement. I use my legs and pelvis to maintain the forward movement. I rock my pelvis with the horse's movements, encouraging him to walk more actively. I practice maintaining an active walk. You may wish to use an impulsion aid such as light spurs or a crop. Don't hit your horse; just tap it lightly on the shoulder or flanks to encourage a more active walk. Many horses like to speed up for just a few steps, the return to a slower pace. I make sure mine does not have a chance to go int a slow pace. This is what will help him develop the smooth gait your are wanting and is well worth the effort.

Yes, you are to get the horse collected. This means that its center of gravity should be shifted backwards. One way I help teach my horses to collect up is to halt, with me shifting my weight backwards in the saddle and applying leg aids at the same time. Just like someone else has said you should put some pressure on the reins, keeping your hands low. This should help shift the horse's weight onto its rear legs.

Continue asking for more collection and speed. Use the half-halt to request greater impulsion and collection. You can execute a half-halt by asking the horse to halt, then propelling it forward the minute it begins to respond to cues, Soon, your horse should move naturally into the gait it was bred for.

Make sure your horse is performing the right gait. Look at your horse's head and neck. It should continue moving in the steady up-and-down of the walk, not the back-and forth movement that means he's pacing.

Now, be patient keep in mind it takes awhile to build their muscles and get them in the appropriate condition so that they can perform the smooth gait that we desire. Just enjoy your horse.

I hope this helps.

Darrin 03-22-2012 10:39 PM

The trainer will help you but in the meantime here are some pointers:

-Your saddle may not work for your horse. Walkers have to have their front shoulders free to gait, pinch those and they can't gait well at all. Full rigging is essentially a no no, you want 7/8 at most. Also try moving your saddle forward and back to see if that helps. Unfortunately a lot of western saddles do not properly fit a walker so you might end up having to buy another one. Also watch out for aussies, I haven't found one yet that fits my horses though I do know a few people that have.

-For pacers you want to shift your center of gravity back. For trotters you shift it forward. How far you shift depends on your horse.

-Gunslinger is right about keeping your hands low but I have to go lower then him, right down on top of the withers.

-Heels down in your stirrups, back straight, don't slop to either side.

-Gaiting takes muscles and those need to be built up. Keep him in a dog walk.

Mellow Mel 03-23-2012 06:47 AM

Thanks everyone. The muscles make sense as he was barely ridden in the past 3 years and he has such a huge downslope due to lack of muscles. I have been riding him 3x a week(I board and work part time so I cannot get a ride in more) for about 2-3 hours in hills and trails...his back is starting to look better.

I have a gaited saddle for him so I think that is good.

I do believe he gaits up the hills...atleast he starts that and switches to a canter.

My lessons cannot start for two weeks so I will try these tips in the meantime...I would not mind if he did not gait but I cannot deal with that pacey trot he does!!!!

Patriot 03-23-2012 07:04 AM

Good advise above, not much I can add. Best of luck, when it all comes together it'll be fun.

Darrin 03-23-2012 10:06 AM

Gaited horses generally have a terrible trot/pace. One poster labeled it the broken washing machine gait and it is rather fitting.

Susan Crumrine 03-23-2012 10:09 AM


You took the words out of my mouth about the saddle...

OP...are you comfortable to ride bareback? If you ride him bareback and he gaits,

it's probably your saddle.

My Jack is a gaited fool! I put a western saddle on him last weekend, he

would not rack, at all.

I have had him 3 years, he has never broken his gait before..

Edit to add....if its a gaited saddle and he doesn't have "typical" gaited horse conformation, it won't work either...try bareback.

Mellow Mel 03-23-2012 12:27 PM

I would one hundred percent agree with the broken washing machine gait.

ConnieSB 03-27-2012 02:21 PM

I found a lot of good info on the website below. I have my first TWH, and it took me awhile to get her to gait smoothly. It was mostly due to her being out of condition. I did have to get a different saddle (btw,I don't believe you have to buy "gaited" saddle, or any kind of "gaited" tack) I do believe saddle fit is important tho. The saddle that I used on my gelding (he 's gaited) fit him fine, his gait was fine, but it made my TWH's back sore.

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