let horse choose gait on trail? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 27 Old 11-25-2012, 11:41 AM
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I don't let them pick their speed unless we are heading up a hill. Many horses prefer to trot up, which is fine, and they almost always stop at the top.

If my horse is feeling fresh and ready to go, I will get them under control, cue a steady forward aid, and then they can trot that way, AFTER I have asked them to. But not just because.
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post #12 of 27 Old 11-25-2012, 12:15 PM
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When riding with others, I always choose the gait and speed of my horse. When riding along I occasionally allow them to choose but that's only for short stretches of time.
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post #13 of 27 Old 11-25-2012, 02:25 PM
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To me, it seems much more like a conversation/negotiation than one of us choosing. Like sometimes we may be walking along, she'll let me know she wants to trot, and if I think it's ok I'll let her - but if we're riding with other people or something, I may have to keep her at a walk. Then sometimes I might want to trot, and she lets me know she doesn't want to - maybe she's hot/tired - and generally I will listen to her (because she does have a lot more experience of being a horse than I do of riding), though sometimes I may insist, anyway.
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post #14 of 27 Old 11-25-2012, 07:59 PM
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In general, I pick the speed and Dream can pick the gait.

However, because of the terrain we are covering, we rarely don't agree on the speed as during a race I want her covering the ground as fast as safely possible (and she has great self-preservation so doesn't want to speed down a trail and kill herself).

There is no joy equal to that found on the back of a horse.
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post #15 of 27 Old 11-27-2012, 09:00 AM
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It depends on circumstances and safety conditions.

I have Tennessee Walkers. If we're in a spot that I deem safe, I will let them "walk on" if they want to. It's always controlled by me, however; they just don't go running off and yahooing about.

When I rode trotting horses, they all knew how to lope. I would let my horses engage in a slow lope, under the same safe conditions if they felt like moving out a bit faster.

There's a right way and a wrong way to let a horse do what they want. The right way is to say "ok, but it's my rules while you stretch your legs and your brain".

Just like with raising children - sometimes we let them "get away with" something and sometimes we don't------------------------
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post #16 of 27 Old 11-27-2012, 09:29 AM
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To update what I wrote...yesterday my mare got very excited about a canter and did NOT want to listen. At a minimum, she wanted a fast trot to join with our Appy a couple hundred yards ahead (ridden by my youngest daughter) and to home. It was a fight to get her to walk, so I compromised: she could walk to the Appy, or trot away from the gelding. She got to choose the speed, but I got to choose the direction. It went on for at least 5 minutes, and felt like longer, but in the end she decided going to the other horse was more important than trotting to the other horse. For the rest of the ride, she was a sweetheart.

And the Appy? Good ol' Trooper just stood there, looking slightly puzzled at our antics but willing to wait until we got things sorted out. Not sure if I handled it right, but it seemed to work out OK.

There is a difference between a horse saying, "A trot would be fun now" and a horse saying, "I'll trot (or canter, or gallop) if I want to!"
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post #17 of 27 Old 11-27-2012, 09:33 AM
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there is a difference between a horse saying, "a trot would be fun now" and a horse saying, "i'll trot (or canter, or gallop) if i want to!"
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post #18 of 27 Old 11-27-2012, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
There is a difference between a horse saying, "A trot would be fun now" and a horse saying, "I'll trot (or canter, or gallop) if I want to!"
I should have waited 29 minutes for "bsms" to post this ^^^^. I could have saved myself some typing
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post #19 of 27 Old 11-27-2012, 08:42 PM
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I think the S&R folks are probably riding pretty well broke horses that know their job and have had a good relationship with their riders. The horse "knows" what speed to go through endless repetitions of doing their job.

I guide packtrips and the mountain horses we ride are not very well trained but very well broke. They know their job, know what speed to go in certain types of terrain and really for the most part the speed is set by the guide horse. When I am on a trail ride I allow my horse to pick the speed...as long as it is a speed I want. If it is slower or faster then they get cued up or down until we are going the correct speed. Enough times of doing that and they are "allowed" to pick the speed because it is the one they learned. We typically give the horse "it's head" in dangerous footing or stressful situations as the horse, if they know their job well, will get through it better than a rider could guide them through it, particularly a dude rider.

A quick story about that...I was leading a photography packtrip in SW Colorado into The Canyon of the Ancients. After a leisurely 10 mile ride over flat level terrain we came to the edge of the canyon. The outfitter told the group to "let your horse have it's head" and disappeared over the edge. We basically were following an ancient indian trail that switch backed down the canyon wall over 800 feet. With cliff on one side and drop off on the other we slid and scraped our way down the trail with many drop-off ledges and loose rock. Some of the drop offs we went off of were over 2-3 feet high. Talk about a butt puckering rush! (going back up was enough harder. The horses had to rear and lunge to get their feet on the ledge and get up on it) If we hadn't let the horses have their head, there was a chance someone would have pulled at the wrong time or gotten itno a fight with their horse, the horse would have panicked and the 800 foot fall would not have been survivable. In situations like that (or Search and Rescue) a horse has to be trusted and know its job. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be ridden there.
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post #20 of 27 Old 11-28-2012, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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I agree with all said and all examples given. I like Phantom and Painted way of putting it- "i pick the speed, they can pick the gait" - a nice differentiation I failed to make.

I think you're right on about search and rescue, again, maybe I used a bad example to use to start the conversation - (LesandLily's reply).

But a good conversation this is/was, so thanks everyone.
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