Round Pen Gaiting?
I am finally comfortable riding Mission but we have only been in the round pen. Is a 50 foot round pen too small to expect him to gait in? I am pretty sure he broke into a pace several times this morning, but very little four-beat rack.
Not impossible, but from personal experience it's better to have a flat open space and just rack straight ahead with the occasional turn. My mare doesn't like having to rack in circles because its kind of an awkward position to be moving lateral while being expected to stay in a circle... so I really don't blame her hesitation.
Plus, I don't find the rack comfortable in a circle either. The Rack was designed as a gait to move over farm land without damaging crops, it was not designed to go in lots of circles or continued circles... it's really a straight ahead sort of movement. You'd probably have better luck finding a flat field to practice racking in, imo :)
When I first got my mare, she would almost always have a smooth gait going up a hill. I've heard a fresh plowed field is also good to bring out a flat walk.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to cue her into a flat walk and running walk after she showed me she had the gait.
You might just point her up a fairly steep hill and see how she does.
A 50' pen is too small for a walker to gait. I free lunge mine in an invisible round pen and he moves waaay out to where he's comfortable at least 30'. I generally school him in an 80' long paddock where he can travel straight. I don't want to encourage him to pace.
Like others said, small spaces are not good to get them in gait and keep them there.
Up hill and in soft ground like a worked up field or deep sand (good reason to ride at the coast) are good to work on gaits.
When trying to work a gaited horse in a small area like this, you also are encouraging them to interfere with themselves, cause them to hit and leave wounds, and can pull shoes.
It also might make one have a tendency to wing, as they are trying to avoid the footfalls in some horses.
They need to be working long and moving nicely to get the feel of their gait, not cramped up, and it definitely isn't good for them, or any horse for that matter to work at gait or speed in round pen continuously.
I agree, flat surfaces and larger are better for gaited horses.
With the gait they don't use their hind end, and being in a circle creates that they need too.
I would ride on some trails/fields when gaiting him :)
Hi everybody. Thanks for the suggestions and comments. I haven't ridden my Rocky since Wednesday. Today, the plan is to saddle him up and work him in the small pasture (about 1.5 acres) that is directly behind the barn. There is also a gently sloped hill that leads up towards the driveway within the fence. Going to be walking down that hill and try to get him gaiting up the hill (hopefully).
He is in a plain O-ring snaffle right now, but when I looked at the videos of how he was ridden before I got him, it looks like they used an SS sweet iron gag wonder bit on him. It looks like it has some leverage to it. I know where I can get one today. With the snaffle, he is pretty slow at coming to a stop and we haven't been able to back up at all. I'm pretty sure I'm just not cueing him right on that one.
He also fights with me sometimes in going to the left. He does lateral flexion very well to both sides and disengages his hindquarters. Previously, he spent a few years as a show horse in the UMH (United Mountain Horse) with mixed results. He does have a very pretty headset while gaiting.
I will post an update later this afternoon to let you know how it goes. I'm kind of nervous about riding him outside of the round pen, but that is only due to the fall I took a few weeks ago when I first rode him. He shows no signs of bucking or bolting under saddle. The fall was rider error. He thought I was pushing him towards a fence when I was trying to get my feet in the stirrups. We were rushing towards the fence (as I never did ask him to turn). He turned to the left really fast, I grabbed the top rail of the fence and then fell off. As I said, rider error. :(
To be totally honest, your horse should be able to flat walk in a round pen easily. Speeding up and getting that faster 4beat gait while going in a circle will absolutely take time and you will have to work to correct the gait, but it can be done -and actually, I think it is very good for them. While you can really get your speed and rhythm on a straight away and that is where you showcase the most, I have always found that circles with my mare are very beneficial if you work to keep them in gait. I have worked with Sable enough that she runwalks on a shorter long line or free lunged in a round pen. It supples them up, stretches them out, and allows them to get better use of their back end -circles and straight aways compliment one another if done properly to create a well rounded horse.
If you just have that area to ride in, if I were you, I would go around at whatever speed he can stay in gait for and just keep to that and slowly increase speed as your training sessions progress and his muscling increases. Your horse will build the msucles as he goes and when youre ready you can hit the trails. Its like speed walking for a human, eventually you max out at a speed walk and want to break into a jog, or lift your feet higher etc...but if you were to speed walk every day eventually you would see your speed increase and you would find yourself able to go faster in the same form. :)
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