Training Tennesee Walker
So I'm riding 6 horses for this couple at my church but there is one, Tango, who is 3, has a little bit of training not a lot though. The owners say that I can do whatever with him, they just want him to be able to make some money.
So what discipiline should I train him in? I was thinking just making him a trail horse since this will be my first time training a horse and that seems like it would be the easiest thing to do (I may be wrong though since I haven't trained before). But there is also the possibility of saddle seat...I also think he would make a good jumper (I know that's not normal for TWH but I've seen it before).
I have only ridden hunters and a little bit of western but depending on what I decide to train him in, I'd take lessons in that discipline.
So opinions on discipline?
Walkers can be very versitle with the right training. Most are pretty easy to train to do whatever you like. Our best jumper (we are not jumpers by trade! LOL) is a TWH and he goes great. First work on refining the gaits. A flat walk should be faster than a QH walks but not rushing. Think in your head one and two and three and four. There should be a head nod at every stride. The gait should be steady, true and consistant. Just like a normal horse! The running walk should be pretty fast. Not tearing around the ring fast but atleast as fast as a collected, extended trot. It should feel like 'collected scurrying' Again, there should be a head nod with every move. If this horse is naturally gaited...he already knows how to do these gaits...and should have no problem showin them off to you! The canter can be a bit different with a walker. The traditional walker should have a bit more lift and spirit to the canter. Once you've got the gaits sorted out...try a bit of everything. Dressage, Barrel Racing, even light shod or plantation classes are great. Good luck!
Do they want to make money from selling HIM? Or do they want HIM to make money by winning in the show ring?
Either way. . .TWHs are already a dime a dozen in many parts of the country, so unless he has really fabulous bloodlines and an excellent gait, chances aren't good that they'll get a lot of money by selling him unless the market picks up again.
Honestly, you'll need to discuss it with the owners to find out exactly what they have in mind for this horse. It's difficult enough for horses to "make money" when their owners have some sort of plan.
In the meantime, don't try to burn up the trail by gaiting the horse all the time. The horse should be relaxed in the gait. As Corino said, there should be a head-nod/head-shake when the horse is gaiting. Some TWHs will slip into a pace or stepping pace (especially if they are from padded horse bloodlines), or they will rack (which is also fast and smooth, but not to be mistaken for a correct running walk, and it is harder on the horse).
The TWH is a versatile breed, and the TWHBEA and NWHA both have versatility programs available that you (and the horse's owners) can look into, to decide what direction they'd like to go.
When you say "dime a dozen" what do you mean? (I'm just curious as far as dollar amount). Around here they go for around 2500 - 5000 as the norm. To me that's pretty good money for a "trail horse"... Which is what they are mostly sold for around here.
Your best bet for anyone to make money off a walker is to get a very solid gait under them, make sure they neck rein easily, and make them a solid trail horse. Make sure there is no issues leading or following on the trail, riding okay alone, crossing mud/water/muck, stepping over logs, loading into the trailer, saddling/bridling/being caught, traffic safe, and a good personality. Most (not all, just most in my experience) walkers are sold to people who either have back problems, are older, or have some mild fear of horses in any of these situations a smooth and sane ride is their situation.
If you want to turn the horse into a show horse, h/j, etc. you definetly have your work cut out for you. Most people showing TWH tend to breed them or buy them young. For a horse to sell easiest you need to make it available to the majority of the buyers aka: trail horse.
Also, do you have TWH experience? Nothing at all against you, I've just seen too many people jump on a gaited horse with no idea how to MAKE it gait and soon you have a walker that trots. If you know how then kudos to you, if not look up someone who does, in my experience the gaited market is always looking for trainers :)
Around here (Arizona) Walkers generally bring more than the average trail horse. BUT, I did get a registered Foxtrotter for $500 and my neighbor got a registered Foxtrotter for $800. So even in the land of $5000 gaited trail horses, prices have dropped alot! Which I'm actually happy about. I was getting pretty depressed thinking I would never be able to afford a gaited trail horse after other folks told me what they paid for theirs ($5000 plus!) :shock:
A good friend of mine bought a very nice, well-bred, well-gaited and registered TWH mare for the grand total of $1 a few years ago.
Even a good, well-gaited TWH can have its gait "ruined" by the rider, if the rider doesn't know what it's supposed to look or feel like.:?
The owners got him as a free to good home, so basically once he becomes a decent ride they will sell him and they will be happy with any amount of profit made.
I don't have a ton of experience with gaited horses but some. But I don't think I'm going to train him for the show ring. Either trail horse or just a schooling horse for western or maybe jumping. Since this is my first time training a horse, I'm leaning toward trail horse because it is the most common use for horses around here and I know it won't be easy but I think it will be easier then anything else.
Thanks for the advice everyone :)
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