TWH "hopping" at the gait?
My parents have two trail walkers (Whom I love dearly. They have a heart of gold and take such good care of my "older" folks)
When I ask my father's horse to gait, sometimes she does a very slight hop on the front end (definitely not a lameness issue or saddle issue) both directions. It's almost like she is trying to canter on the front end...is that possible? If it is, what can I do to help make her more steady. Admittedly, she only gets ridden about 3-10 times a month so it may just be that she needs to build muscle or it may be that she is not great as far as conformation goes, but I honestly have no idea how to judge a TWH. I included a couple of pics, see what you think!
I have no experience working with gaited horses. I usually just get on and enjoy the ride:-) I was just curious if I could improve her gait.
Hard to tell by your description but she very well could be racking. Things to think about/try.
-Gaiting does take muscle so yes, muscle tone is important.
-While riding, shift your weight forward and back. This will change your horses back which in turn impacts their gait.
-Heels down, calves in.
-Some horses do better on a tight rein while others work better on a loose rein.
-Saddle position matters, play with moving it around some.
your holding her back, Many of them have a natural speed they want to go, If you hold them back slower some of them can get a bit jiggy up front. Often these horses are expecting to get the reins jerked anytime they get faster than a slow QH walk. They will also do this if they are stressed. When he did it where was his buddy ? My mare did that a time or two when I first got her and the other horse I was riding with went home and I tried to keep riding. Felt kinda bouncy up front. After a coupel rides alone and when she figured out it was perfectly ok to step it out she stopped. Now I am working on a bouncy canter in the back. I think that is just conditioning.
hard to tell from the pic but it looks like you are riding a tight rein with a boat anchor for a bit. Might be your problem right there.
I should mention that that is my dad riding. he is a beginner with some issues trusting the horse (although he won't admit it:)
She does the hop pretty consistently... every 4-5 strides. it's not a big deal, and not a huge motion, just not the consistent beat that it should be. It usually is worse if I move her out more. She's ridden in a short shanked walker bit with a smooth snaffle mouthpiece... that's an old pic and the bit that came with her.
Gracie is usually worse the faster we go. I swear it feels just like she is picking up her shoulder like she's going to canter. It doesn't matter if I throw her reins away and let her go however she wants to, it's still there. also it doesn't matter if she is saddled or bareback. I always ride her bareback because my dad's saddle is way too big for me and she does just the same.
I've tried to pick her head up and push her butt underneath her since most of the pics and videos you see their butts really low and way underneath themselves. Not sure if that is the right thinking or not, and I'm not sure if that helped either.
Thanks so much for your feedback!
Well, one thing I know is you don't want to pick up the head of a gaited horse in order to get its hind end under it. You want to encourage her to lower her head, which in turn will help her lengthen her stride. When she lengthens her stride, her hind end will reach under her and you will have much more of a contained position than with her head up and back hollow. Usually when you just try to teach her to get into a more collected position by lifting her head up like that, and keeping such a tight rein, the only thing you're going to get is a hollow horse with a shorter stride. So I would first ignore the gait and teach her to lower her head. Worry about the gait later.
My mare did that "hopping" thing once, too, so I know exactly what you mean. It's cross firing, which is when a horse half canters and half running-walks, and it feels like she's consistantly tripping a little or something, but you know she's not. It just takes some time and a lot of consistant riding to get rid of it. Every time your dad's horse does that "hopping" thing, take her down to a walk and then cue her back up to a running-walk and do that over and over as many times as nessesary. Then when your horse keeps herself in the running-walk for 6-8 seconds or so (at first), let her stop and rest and let her know she did the right thing. Backing up and then going straight into a running-walk also helps because backing up helps to collect them.
It appears that your dad is keeping a very tight rein on her, and that is most likely the reason she's doing that; she can't do her running-walk as easily as she can canter when she has her head all drawn up with no room to "head bob". Riding a gaited horse is a whole different ballgame than riding the non-gaited ones, isn't it! :wink:
quote"Well, one thing I know is you don't want to pick up the head of a gaited horse in order to get its hind end under it. You want to encourage her to lower her head, which in turn will help her lengthen her stride. When she lengthens her stride, her hind end will reach under her and you will have much more of a contained position than with her head up and back hollow. Usually when you just try to teach her to get into a more collected position by lifting her head up like that, and keeping such a tight rein, the only thing you're going to get is a hollow horse with a shorter stride. So I would first ignore the gait and teach her to lower her head."
Never say you can not teach an old dog new tricks. I'm one ole dog that learned a new one this year. The above statement is completely false. Yes, you can use it, but it is the long way around. I happened on to some trainers this year, and they seldom share their methods. I was lucky and they don't mind sharing their info. To start them gaiting raise the head as far as you can. They'd drown if they get caught in the rain. Then push them forward, if they don't gait push them past the rough spot, and by golly, they will fall into gear. Once they have it down pat, then you can start slowing them down a bit at a time and bring the head back down. Saves months of work.
Now for the hoping. Not always, but frequently, this is caused from the angles of the hoof not being the same. Your farrier must use a gage to get the angles the same. The eye does not exist that can see several degrees difference. Just one or two degrees difference can cause them to hop.
Okay, then where are the "older" folks?
" To start them gaiting raise the head as far as you can. They'd drown if they get caught in the rain. Then push them forward, if they don't gait push them past the rough spot, and by golly, they will fall into gear. Once they have it down pat, then you can start slowing them down a bit at a time and bring the head back down. Saves months of work. "
Sorry THIS is false! I mean, you may get a pacey gait. And maybe that's what they do to show horses, but that's not correct for any kind of normal riding. What that does is hollow the horse's back and makes them pacey.
Please don't ride your horse hollow and with their head in the air like this person suggests. People spend years trying to re-train horses like this. As a matter of fact, here is a really good book I just finished. He goes in depth about how to re-train horses ridden into a pacey gait with their head in the air like a goose. :-(
You actually want to do what the other person suggests, and let them relax and lower their head. Work at a flat walk and gradually increase speed to find the horse's natural gait. You don't want to ride too fast or with too much contact. Slide into the gait from the flat (fast) walk. :-)
This probably isn't any help, but years ago I knew someone who had an Arab who would hop or skip at the trot. She was sound and they never could figure out why she did it or how to stop it. It may just be a habit some horses get into. I rode her once, it was odd, she just did it at random.
Well, I've already stated what I know to work so I won't take up a bunch of posts to argue about it or anything, but it isn't saving any time when you have to backtrack and fix the hard pacing that raising the head will cause.
BTW, I have that book that trailhorserider is talking about; it is an enlightening and informative book, sckamper. It helped me out with a number of things I was struggling with. I really think you'd like it!
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