What breed and why does he do this? - The Horse Forum
  • 6 Post By Acadianartist
  • 5 Post By SilverMaple
  • 4 Post By 4horses
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  • 6 Post By AnitaAnne
  • 5 Post By Horse Training Cowgirl
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-15-2019, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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What breed and why does he do this?

So awhile ago I got this 2 year old gelding. I was told he was qh pony cross but now I'm starting to doubt that as he paces, like a Standardbred. I am kinda hoping he'll grow out of pacing but what are your thoughts? He's currently 12.2 hh and growing. (he was under weight when I got him and still is a bit under but we're getting there)
My questions are:
What breed do you think he is?
Is there a way to train him not to pace?
Do you think he'll stop pacing ever?
Here is some pictures of him:

Tears may get you sympathy, But sweat will get you results. > Clinton Anderson
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post #2 of 10 Old 11-15-2019, 01:51 PM
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I certainly don't think he's a QH cross, but I'm no expert. Do you have any other photos that show him squared with his head straight? In both photos, his head is at an angle so it's hard to see the features. From the photos, he looks to have a fairly thin neck and his hind legs long very long and thin. Not meaning that as a conformation critique, just trying to see what breeds could be in him. Standardbred is a fair guess. Or maybe he just looks that way because he is not down growing. He also looks like he needs to gain muscle so once he is at the right weight and is mature enough, putting him to work might fill out that neck and back end. My Appy gelding turned 7 last summer and his neck has really filled out in the last year. Be patient.

I do hope you're not riding him as a two year old. If not, where are you seeing him pace, in the pasture? Probably nothing you can do about that, but I think you can train him out of it when it comes time to ride, just like you would train a horse to give you the correct gait (ie, if you ask for a canter, you expect a canter, not a fast trot so you could apply the same logic to trotting vs pacing). But give him time to mature before doing anything like this with him.
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post #3 of 10 Old 11-15-2019, 03:56 PM
Green Broke
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I don't see much QH in there, either. This horse has very weak hindquarters which is a pretty good indicator that there's nothing stock in him. I'm seeing Standardbred cross, too-- or possibly some sort of gaited cross. Until he's back up to weight, in better condition, and has matured, there's not much you can do with him. Please don't ride him or work him much right now-- he's still very underweight and poor-looking. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say grade pony/gaited cross. Whether or not you can train him out of it is hard to say. Some horses revert to a pace because it's easy for them and they don't need much hindquarter strength to do it. It's also possible he's not actually pacing but instead will have more of a rack or running walk once he's matured.
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post #4 of 10 Old 11-15-2019, 10:49 PM
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He needs weight and badly. He needs to build muscle up.

There are many variations in pacing. Most are only recognizable with slow motion video. A broken pace isn't that uncomfortable compared with pacing. This video is excellent. It's hard to see the difference, but you can feel it under saddle.

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post #5 of 10 Old 11-16-2019, 12:08 AM
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As a person who's worked with trotter breeds and STBs all their life, I don't see much STB in that horse at all - it wouldn't pass good conformation for a STB with any hope for track - the shoulder angle is steep, the point of croup set way too far back (you sometimes see that in the Autumn Sunshine-descended Crabbet Arabians, and in Akhal Tekes, and some pony breeds etc but rarely in harness racers), the horse just not connected properly to make harness grade - and while there are poorly configured STBs, because this is a performance breed, there's less of those than in backyard bred horses. This is a cross, which may or may not have STB ancestry but if it does, it's mainly taken after the other ancestry physically.

Here's what good-quality STBs look like:

Re pacing, that's common in quite a few breeds including the Icelandic, various gaited saddle breeds and racing harness breeds - it's associated with a particular supressor gene, which can be passed on by any of those various horse breeds.

Furthermore, not all trotter breeds, and not even all STBs, pace. A lot of STBs can do racing trots as well as racing paces (and the majority of them canter and gallop well too), and you can request a walk, trot, pace, canter, gallop depending how you ride, just like people riding gaited riding horse breeds can request different gaits that way. This is about learning how to ride, not about the horse. A very low proportion of STBs are obligate pacers - can't trot very well and won't want to; they're moving in the way most comfortable to them.

Re training a horse with a pacing gene not to pace, that's like training a horse not to walk, or trot, or canter, or gallop, because you don't like a particular gait. Under saddle, yes, if you're a competent rider, you can ask a horse not to canter, or not to trot, or not to pace, or not to walk, and just ride preferred gaits, but will it make your horse happy? Depends on the situation. An obligate pacer isn't good at trotting and shouldn't be asked to, just like an ordinary riding horse shouldn't be asked to learn how to pace because for some reason you don't like the trot. With the "ambidextrous" STBs, they usually don't mind too much whether you're asking for a trot or a pace and will perform happily at both, if you're a balanced rider and know how to communicate well with your horse.

Whether he paces in the paddock should not be of concern to you - let him be a horse. Do you see him trotting comfortably when he's free in the paddock? If he trots at liberty, he'll trot with a good rider. If he never trots at liberty, you have an obligate pacer, and need to either accept this and deal with it, or get a non-gaited horse instead, and find this horse a home where it won't be an issue that he knows how to pace. And by the way, that horse is much too immature and in too poor condition to even think of doing ridden work with him. He needs good feeding, groundwork and gradual building of muscles and fitness from the ground first, before anyone thinks of jumping on his back...

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post #6 of 10 Old 11-16-2019, 12:44 AM
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He sounds like a gaited pony cross, and gaited ponies are worth lots of $$$ in the show world.

The ability to gait/pace is a gene, as @SueC said, so not going to train it out of him, but he certainly might be 4 or even 5 gaited.

For now, as others have mentioned, would focus on his health and give him at least another year to mature more before starting any training.
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post #7 of 10 Old 11-16-2019, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks everyone!
He isn't under saddle so don't worry about that :)
He is on feed and I've already seen a big change in him (more energy, happier, ect.)

We have been lunging him, doing groundwork, and such to help gaining muscle.
@SueC I agree, I'm not to worried about him pacing in the paddock, but how is it riding a pace? Is it harder then a trot?
@Acadianartist I can try get some newer pictures, these are from 2 months ago I think so he does look a bit better now.

Tears may get you sympathy, But sweat will get you results. > Clinton Anderson
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post #8 of 10 Old 11-16-2019, 11:53 AM
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There's a book called Easy Gaited Horses by Lee Ziegler that explains in depth the mechanics of gait and gives a LOT of attention to the horse's physical development, beginning with specialized ground work, for youngsters and adult horses alike. She deals with the "problems" of pacing and trotting. It might be worth it to invest in the book to make sure what gait you're looking at, what causes it and ways to improve on the horse's way of going.
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post #9 of 10 Old 11-16-2019, 12:38 PM
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PS - gaited horses should not be lunged much, especially not in small circles. Much better to do ground driving (long lining) for ground work.

Free lunging, for exercise, in a 100 foot diameter round paddock would be ok, but not those tiny circles a lot of the current gurus use.

A pace is when the legs on the same side move together, as opposed to the diagonal movement of the trot. A true pace is unsteady on a circle due to the lateral movement. Forcing a lateral moving horse to do small circles will cause resistance, and lack of trust issues as the horse becomes unbalanced much easier than a diagonal moving horse.
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post #10 of 10 Old 11-16-2019, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Horse Training Cowgirl View Post
@SueC I agree, I'm not to worried about him pacing in the paddock, but how is it riding a pace? Is it harder then a trot?
Riding a pace is kind of like riding any other gait - something you get used to. I well remember my first trot at riding lessons as a kid because it shook me until I was rattling, and I got really bad stitches while trying to learn to be elastic enough to absorb the shock. I was so disappointed by how awful it felt! ...steep-angled shoulders on that particular lesson horse didn't help - which is where actual harness racers are smoother to ride, as their conformation generally makes them excellent, smooth trotters (unless obligate pacers). I first saw this when riding a French Trotter mare when I was nine - she just floated, and it was so little effort to go with her movements as a rider - plus the huge ground-covering strides out on trails became an addictive ride, until I could no longer ride ordinary horses with "slow" trots. These days I ride her great-grandson, who is in the left of the clip I posted earlier. The chestnut on the right is a grandson, 25 and retired. The horse in the middle is a straight STB and a grandson of your famous American racehorse Albatross (as is the horse on the left), but all of them are registered as STBs.

For most people I talk to, it's the trot that was the most disappointing and difficult gait to learn to go with when learning to ride. I was relieved when I learnt to canter - that was sort of like being on a giant rocking horse. I didn't ride a pace until I rode STBs who were also racing pacers. A pace is easier to ride than a standard lesson horse trot because it never jars you in the back - but it will swing you from side to side to a greater or lesser extent. In harness racers there are two types of pacers - leg pacers and body pacers. Leg pacers simply move their same-side leg pairs while their bodies stay relatively straight, but body pacers really swing their bodies along as part of the pace (and tend to be faster pacers on the track). So, riding a leg pacer will give you less side-to-side swing than riding a body pacer. I would hazard a guess that most gaited riding horse breeds would not contain many body pacers, since body pacing becomes most advantageous at speed, and generally people don't ride their horses at racing speeds.

All things considered, I personally prefer a nice smooth floaty harness racing trot to its pacing equivalent, but a harness racing pace to a standard lesson horse trot. The horse I ride these days is a lousy pacer as he took after the trotting lines in his ancestry - he has rhythm problems at the pace, and only attempts to pace at all because he was forced to train in hopples for nine years while his previous owner was trying to teach him to pace (because there were no trotting races in Western Australia back then). So, he sometimes, when confused or on rough footing, accidentally gets into a pace which feels like riding a camel with a limp, and this is comfortable for neither of us, so I half-halt him and send him back into a trot (don't canter-on from a pace because you'll likely get a disunited canter - always canter-on from a trot). His walk, trot, racing trot, canter and gallop are all very comfortable to ride.

In the 90s I rode an "ambidextrous" STB who was a successful metropolitan class harness racing pacer as part of his cross-training. His pace was very comfortable to ride - all his gaits were - he had a gorgeous smooth canter too. He tended to prefer to trot (or canter, or gallop) through sand and pace on firm surfaces, but you could cue him so that you could get whatever gait you preferred at the time, just like with a "standard" horse. Trot versus pace was mostly requested through rein aids - trot on out of a lower, dressage-type headset with a face near vertical, pace from a high headset with the nose out - and I sat more deeply when requesting trot versus pace. You can ride a pace sitting or posting (or out of the saddle leaning forward slightly) just like a trot.

Re lunging, for walk, trot and canter it's the same as with any other type of horse (and I would avoid painfully small lunging circles with any horse - go on a large, roomy circle - free lunging in a nice large round-yard is good, but not for hours - for muscle building I tend to walk, trot and canter young horses (or senior horses that could use supportive exercise without a rider) 15-25 minutes in a session, with lots of reversing sides (and working at speeds to get them damp around the chest by session end and using their lungs properly, but no more than that - no flogging a horse around circles). If you have an obligate pacer, then I'd avoid lunging, except at the walk (and canter, if offered and if not disunited). I used to play "paddock chasey" to get horses that don't free-range some non-riding exercise - a game where you make a show of hiding behind trees etc and then racing out from them, or you start by trotting the horse on the halter and then let it go as you both race off - but I worked with racehorses who love being "infected" by displays of speed and silly antics; more sedate breeds would probably just look at you funny instead of join in the fun and games.

Ground driving is great, except that most humans can't run very far or fast for getting a horse fit. Humans tend to do better attempting to run when leading horses on a halter - and then there's no uncomfortable bit to jar with puny human attempts at running, and you don't have to run with your hands out in front of you as if waterskiing. A young horse I trained as a kid got me very fit when I went cross-country running with it on a regular basis, and built up muscle and valuable trail skills that way. I'd recommend that to anyone because it makes riding trails so much less spooky when you get around to actually riding the horse.

And you can drive a young horse in a cart for exercise way before it's wise to ride it - but that's another story...

Have fun!

SueC is time travelling.

Last edited by SueC; 11-16-2019 at 06:47 PM.
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