A question about bits and gaited horses...
I am a gaited horse newbie (see previous post) and I just thought of another question.
If I want to ride my Foxtrotter with contact (such as when we are gaiting) can I use any bit she seems to do well in, or do I need a basic curb? I was told by a Foxtrotter person that I should always ride in curb bit with a solid mouthpiece because the horse needs to lean into it. I have ridden most of my other trail horses in a tom thumb with good success. Do I need to use a solid mouth bit because of the "push them into the bridle" strategy?
Or can you ride a gaited horse in just about anything? I know I have seen Walking Horse bits with snaffle mouthpieces.
Actually, my Foxtrotter really seems to do fine in a mechanical hackamore (a Sliester brand with flat leather noseband and a flat, double link curb chain). Is there any reason I can't use the hackamore?
Do I really want my horse leaning into the bit? Sorry for the rambling questions. Usually, such as on my Mustang, I use a tom thumb, very light contact, and back him off the bit instead of trying to push him into it.
Maybe I am just overthinking everything! Can I just pretend my Foxtrotter is like any other horse, or do you really need to ride them differently than a non-gaited horse?
No, you're absolutely right. No horse of any breed should be leaning on the bit - I don't know what that person was thinking.
Ride her however you would ride a non-gaited horse in whatever bit SHE likes best.
Well, "leaning into the bit" might be my term and not hers. Basically, she says that you want them to be able to have contact with the bit and push into the bit a little. She says you can do that better with a curb with a solid mouth and a broken mouthpiece will discourage the horse from giving more bit contact. Which kinda makes sense, because that is what I do with my Mustang. Ride him with a tom thumb and give him little flutters with my fingertips to back off it if he gives me bit pressure. That is how I get him to collect up.
Now I feel like I am re-learning how I ride, but maybe I shouldn't be? The same lady also told me that you shouldn't try to collect them in the same way as I do my other horse. That you want them to have their nose out and neck straight, not tucked.
Let me ask you one more question. When you are at a walk, do you have two-handed rein contact with your horse? Or do you give him/her a slack rein at a walk? Do you encourage a fast, almost breaking-into-a-gait walk, or do you just let them go their own pace? The Foxtrotter owning husband/wife I ride with are always pushing their horses to walk FAST. That is part of the reason I got a Foxtrotter, so if I rode with them I could keep up! But I love the feel of her gaits too.
By the way, I LOVE Mystique's blue eyes! On a black horse, they stand out like jewels! :D
Thank you for your help!
I don't think you HAVE to relearn how to ride if you don't want to. A horse is a horse and they should be treated and trained as individuals. If you and your mare don't like the way MFTs are ridden in the show ring, don't do it that way. If you're not going to show her at breed shows it doesn't matter. And since MFTs are diagonally-oriented horses, unlike most other gaited breeds, I think they can be treated even more like trotting horses. The foxtrot is VERY much like a trot, and so I don't see why MFTs can't go in a frame that trotting horses go in.
This is the amount of slack I always give her at the walk (except my hand is usually lower): Mystique on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
I let her go her own pace at the walk. She has an extremely fast walk and she goes that speed on her own. I'm usually riding with non-gaited horses or a Paso Fino and they all walk much slower than her, so I'm actually usually slowing her down, not speeding her up.
Thanks again for all your help! I will just do the slack-rein thing at the walk, because that's how I like to ride. And then do light contact when I ask her to gait.
Sometimes, when I try for the gait, all I get is a super speedy flat walk, but that really feels like a gait in it's self. I am still learning to tell the difference between her flat walk and her Foxtrot. They feel almost the same to be, except with the foxtrot, her hind-end is bouncing a bit more. I can usually tell when she starts to Foxtrot, because I notice the jiggle, but not when she drops to a flat walk. The transition from one to the other is so smooth that I hardly notice.
Riding my first gaited horse sometimes gets me giggly, because I feel like I have all these cool "gears" and they all feel so neat, but I don't know how to "lock them in gear," I just sort of float in and out of them. But it is really fun getting the hang of it. :D
PS. I've only tried cantering her a couple of times, and she has a funky canter! My neighbor says it looks normal, but I feel like the front end and back end are doing two different things. So much to learn and experience- I can't wait for spring!!!
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