Proper cues for those who trot AND gait
I want to make sure I don't confuse him. I've finally gotten to the point where I can consistently get a gait out of him (and I'm positive about what a gait feels like with the help of people on the ground). Now I want to make sure he understands what I want - and also will understand if someone else gets on him.
If I'm walking, what should I do differently if I want to ask for the trot vs ask for the gait, so that he is completely clear which I want from him?
My instructor at my last lesson (great for dressage, but only has limited experience with gaited horses) told me to try to start rising into the post as I asked for a trot - but it turned out that almost guaranteed that we went into a gait instead, lol.
I would think that a distinct shift in balance, combined with appropriate leg and hand, would do the job.
Find out what works by doing some experimentation. Then reinforce that which works for each gait.
Well, for my Paso Fino I use long reins = trot and short reins = gait. It's a pretty clear cue, and once he's trotting or gaiting I can lengthen or shorten my reins. He knows that he's to stay trotting or gaiting until I tell him to canter, walk, or stop. I never do trot/gait transitions, so he never tries to switch back and forth.
I was riding once with a friend of mine. We were taking out a new horse of hers and I was having an awful time because he was so jerky/pacey/trotty. He was all over the place. We were on the way home and had tried several different methods of getting him to smooth out, we were laughing about how the men around home ride with their butts curled all the way under them, their heads ducked, and their elbows way out, and I did just that while we were laughing and didn't that horse start going smooth as silk!
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