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Storybook Farm 05-16-2013 10:36 PM

Newbie seeking basic advice about aids used with gaited horses.
Hi all,

First post here!

I have bought a gorgeous Rocky Mountain mare, 6 years old, a sweetie, who is fully trained and has lovely head carriage. I named her grace; my avitar is her picture. :D Grace was finished by a saddleseat rider/trainer out in MO whom I esteem; I live in WV. I bought her sight unseen, and I love her to pieces. Below is a picture of Charles riding her right before I bought her (in her winter coat):

I am solo, without an instructor, and just returning to riding after about 30 years of raising my kids. Back then, I rode saddleseat on 3-gaited pleasure horses (which, as you know, means just walk/trot/canter using a Land Fox flat cutback saddle and a double bridle, basically).

We bought an abandoned mountain farm about two years ago, and after working really hard to bring it back to life, I'm now ready to really dig into the sport. I bought a RMH because I love how they look, that they're easy keepers, that they aren't super tall (Grace is 15.2, and I am 5' 2") and that they have gentle temperaments. I have NO aspirations to show, and as soon as I can FIND the trails around here, my main goal is trailing. BUT: I need to learn how to school a gaited horse! I keep giving her wrong signals that cause her to stop on a dime. I've gotten her into her gait (not sure if it's a pace or amble or... whatever...) and it's butter smooth. She's a willing worker, but I know that I'm confusing her.

Can someone define for a NEWbie what the basic aids are for signaling the gait (pace?) that isn't a trot? Perhaps also hand carriage/contact with her mouth? I'm riding her in the same bit that Charles used: a medium port long-shanked curb bit with curb chain (John Deere Medium Port Long Shank Bit - She is very responsive to the reign, and obeys willingly. But, I really feel like I'm giving her the wrong signals. I don't want to ruin her. Please help?

MyBoyPuck 05-16-2013 11:12 PM

I have no clue about gaited horses. Just wanted to say that is one cool looking horse. Are Rocky Mountains as comfortable as they say?

Oldhorselady 05-16-2013 11:39 PM

While I've never owned one and know nothing about gaited horses, the owners of RMHs that I know, always have wonderful things to say about them including temperment, hardiness and smooth gait.

goneriding 05-17-2013 06:26 AM

Maybe looking into some educational books and videos will help.

Sereno 05-17-2013 07:08 AM

Congrats Story and good thinking concerning your needs and... ahhh... maturity.

I hope that you will love your smaller gated RMH as much as my wife enjoy our smaller, gated Paso Finos. We had not ridden for over 40 years and being in our mid-50's when we wanted to get back into the saddle we realized our bodies not so nimble or forgiving. We had to learn all over again since Paso's are trained and ridden much differently from our old QH western ways.

I don't know anything about RMH's or the training of them in the U.S. so I can not help with that. I look forward to hearing from others.

Sereno 05-17-2013 07:19 AM

So I could learn. lol. No trot = no posting.
4 beat gate = smooth = no saddle sores or rearranged bones.

Look how the rider in the photo is positioned in the saddle and his legs. Sits up straight, legs slightly forward and long stirrups. I can not see if he is using two hands, as for a Paso.

The breed exhibits a natural ambling gait, called the single-foot,[6] which replaces the trot seen in a majority of horse breeds.[1] Both gaits are an intermediate speed between a walk and a canter or gallop; ambling gaits are four-beat gaits, whereas the trot is a two-beat gait. The extra footfalls provide additional smoothness to a rider because the horse always has at least one foot on the ground. This minimizes movement of the horse's topline and removes the bounce of a two-beat gait, caused by a moment of suspension followed by the jolt of two feet hitting the ground as the horse shifts from one pair of legs to the other.[7] The value of an intermediate speed is that the horse conserves energy.[8] More than thirty horse breeds are "gaited," able to perform a four-beat ambling gait, and some can also trot.[7] Thus, a Rocky Mountain Horse, with rider, can use the single-foot to cover rough ground at around 7 miles per hour (11 km/h) and short stretches of smooth ground at up to 16 miles per hour (26 km/h).[3] The faster speed is known as the rack.[6] In comparison, the average medium trot speed is 6 to 8 miles per hour (9.7 to 13 km/h).[9]

Cacowgirl 05-17-2013 08:33 AM

Your mare is lovely. Although I've had a lot of gaited horses,each one is different,so I really can't tell you how to ride her. I would suggest start slowly, get acquainted, learn to trust each other before asking for speed.

Sereno 05-17-2013 08:34 AM

Looking at videos.
Cause I like to learn!

I have looked at a dozen vids with RMH's. Some use one hand as in western with neck reining and using the boot. Others use two hands with no other real noticeable cues or movement and the horse may not have been taught what neck reining is.

I'm not thrilled with the rider on this video but it shows two hands for the reins. With Paso's, the reins are at the finger tips on the lower part of the hands and just a "tick" with those fingers control the horse using slight leg pressure as cues first. (edit: I'm not thrilled about her hand position either... but you get the point.)

We later crossed trained ours for single hand/neck reining. Again, different breeds in different countries.

LadyDreamer 05-17-2013 10:07 AM

Hi! Have you contacted the seller about your problems? Any trainer worth his salt wants you to get along with the horse you purchase and will often offer advice for free. And from my experiences with Rocky Mountain Horse people, I would be shocked if he wouldn't help you.
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Storybook Farm 05-17-2013 12:12 PM

Thanks to all who responded!

First of all: I agree; she's a knockout. SWEET as pie, no vices, and willing. To me, she's worth any effort to woo and win! Also, being (ahem) mature... I've learned to wait for the good things in life, so I'm in no rush.

I can't ask Charles for advice because of the distance. I mean, I did ask, and he said that it would come with time, and that she was very forgiving. But he's never seen me ride and can't give me advice on the phone like I am needing.

My current idea is to get a Lane Fox saddle to school her in, instead of the nice Sycamore Tree hybrid trail saddle that I first bought. (Not yet selling the latter, just looking to purchase the former so I can get as close as possible to "familiar" and use muscle memory).

Thanks to whoever suggested books/videos. Now that I remember, I bought Lee Ziegler's *Easy-Gaited Horses* before I purchased Gracie. It was detailed, specific, and technical before I got the horse. Perhaps I should return to that resource now that I've been on her and have some more specific questions about how to proceed. THANKS!

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