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Can someone explain a gaited horse to me?
I am an eventer and have been riding for about 8 years now and have learned a lot in that time about horses, but one (of the many) things that still evades me is gaited horses. Is it really physically impossible for them to trot and gallop? What is the difference between the different types of "walk"? What does the paso feel like to ride? Any info would be greatly appreciated...I am endlessly curious on this subject. Books and magazines all say the same things about the mechanics of each gait (basically walk but different tempo patterns for Tenessee Walkers and Saddlebreds), but not what they feel like and look like to ride. I don't think the writers usually know much about any type of gaited horses either, just that it looks very different and flashy and is supposedly very comfortable to ride a gaited horse (any type). It is a mystery to me and I finally can't stand it anymore! :-)
I don't know about the other breeds but I have a fox trotter and she does have the normal gaits. Walk, trot, canter, and gallop. I have even barrel raced with her for fun. When she gaits it is smooth. I don't know how to explain it but its very smooth and ground covering. I know that is not much help in explaining it.
I would like to know too. I'm surrounded by quarter horses so I know nothing about gaits.
What you read in the books is correct, and unless you ride one you cannot appreciate a gaited Horse. They are very smooth-no bounce in the saddle. I have a MFT and she is very smooth. They have different gaits and to me it's realy just either slower or faster. They can move out, but it feels very smooth.
I have only ridden the saddle rack/rack but I've heard that each gait feels different. In the rack you feel an up-and-down motion but without a bounce if that make sense. You really feel it in the hips.
Plus, in the running walk-- as well as the step down, the flat walk, the horse's head will shake. It's not... 'smooth' like th other ones.. but you don't bounce, either. You *really* want to pump the horse along with your hips.
Liz Graves does a great job of explaining the intermediate gaits of various gaited breeds.
Easy-gaited horses: gentle, humane ... - Google Books
Hmmm...very interesting. Thanks everybody that helps a lot! Other contributions are still welcome. Now I really want to ride a gaited horse to see what you're talking about! Do you have to post/sit a different way for different gaits?
For the rack, I sit back and deep.. kind of in a chair seat. You should never feel like you have to post. When a horse paces-- which is awful-- I more or less 2-point it if I am *letting* the horse pace to stretch.
For a Walker, I sit normally.
One more thing, the gaited breeds do not have suspension in their gaits so that is why it is smoother. They make wonderful trail horses for that reason, you can ride all day & not get tired.
It is physically impossible for many gaited breeds to trot. Tennessee Walkers & Racking horses don't trot, the gaits look more like a pace (like racing trotters) but if the horse actually starts moving "pacey" it make it rough for the rider.
The "big lick" walk looks like two different movements from the front to the back.
When you sit on one, typically the rider sits deep & back & very little leg is needed. You "pick up" on the rein to lift the front end & sit back to drop the back - kiss & GO!
You can go to the Horsetopia website & do a search on gaited breeds. Many show short clips.
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