So, now that it has been discovered that the lovely Lacey poneh is gaited, I'm wondering how I can encourage her to gait...
Yesterday I tried collecting up the reins until I could feel her face, but no death grip on her face or anything, just gentle contact, and then squeezing her up into my hands to see if I could get anything out of her. Well, I think I got a pretty passable rendition of the flat foot walk out of her (it was like walking at trot speed, lots of head bobbing) it was also rather smooth (once her head was up, with her head down and on a loose rein, it was awful).
However, the other day I'm pretty sure I got her to rack and I'd LOVE to get her to do that again. I've never consciously ridden a gaited horse before (I have ridden them but I wasn't knowledgeable enough to realize that they were gaited until later) so I have no clue about the cues for these things.
When the supposed rack happened I was asking her to trot and she didn't want to so she was goofing around. However, generally as a rule she LOVES trotting so that was, I'm pretty sure, a one time deal getting her to do it that way.
I'm riding her bitless, in an "Indian Bosal," which is the only thing she's hypothetically gaited for me in before, so I have no intention of changing unless it's absolutely necessary.
Help? I'm not expecting miracles since she is 25 but yknow, we can try new things especially since she's the one that's suddenly busting out gaiting as a secondary skill set. :lol:
Setting a gait can be.. interesting. My coach always seems to give me the horses that aren't fully set. XD
To encourage a rack, sit back and deep. You'll see a lot of gaited riders in a chair seat because it can shift weight down onto their rear end. This isn't great, and one of the reasons my coach was like '...get a walker.' (I couldn't keep in the chair seat) Bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle and bring your hands back. You may get a pace if she doesn't understand(which may have been what you were feeling.. a stepping pace can be VERY smooth. A true pace will MURDER you).
Like vivache said, put your pockets deep into the seat, but don't lean back and put your feet out front of you. You still want to keep as close to the "shoulder, hip, heel" position as possible. Keep your hands lower, about belly button height. You want her head to be on the vertical or close to it.(A little ahead of vertical is ok but behind is bad) Keep your elbows in. Also, riding a gait is different that posting or sitting a trot, loosen your hips and lower back up so you can find their rhythm and go with it. With a horse that isn't "set" the rider can have a huge effect on the gait by the way they sit and ride. One thing you might try is walking her into the gait. The footfall is very similar to a walk, sometimes if you gradually increase the speed of the walk(to just before she breaks into a trot) and hold it this strengthens the gaiting muscles. You could also try riding her downhill, I'm told that uphill is good for pacey horses and downhill good for trotty. Some say riding in tall grass is good but my boy was trotty and this just seemed to make him worse, maybe it's best if they're pacey. Hope this helps!
Gait exists on a continuum and a rider can, by body position, move the horse along that continuum.
If you want to move the horse more laterally (as in the rack) you must ventroflex the horse's back. Sitting back and putting pressure on the cantle will generally do this. If you look carefully you'll see many racking horse riders with a saddle set more the rear than would be normal. Ventroflexion is not necessarily bad if you mix the gaits while you ride (including the canter). You should also dismount every hour or so and walk the horse on a long ride to rest the back (and streatch your own legs :-)).
To get the gait more to the center you want to sit more centered and push the horse into the bridle with the leg until you just "feel" the mouth. This gait is not as smooth as the rack, but is less energy intensive for the horse, does not require a hollow back, and can be maintained for longer distances without the risk of soring the back.
Put another way, the rack is fast and smooth but is a speed gait; the running walk (and other centered gaits) are slower, less smooth, but are distance gaits.
Pick the gait that best accomplishes your needs.
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