Teaching Smoother Gaits - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 04-01-2019, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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Teaching Smoother Gaits

So my pony Skippy is quite the speedster. This year I want to teach him how to better carry himself and get smoother gaits from him. He is a pony, but if I can do some groundwork and riding exercises to teach him how to become more balanced and lengthen his strides for a smoother trot and lope maybe I can actually end up being able to sit his lope and trot which is very rough. My inner thighs and seat bones feel bruised and sore every-time I ride his trot for longer distances than normal. I was hoping you guys out there could give me some tips, useful youtube videos, etc to please help me with this situation.

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post #2 of 5 Old 04-02-2019, 07:11 AM
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Roughness of movement may be related to a horse’s conformation, but good riding can often make a big difference.

When a rider relaxes her muscles, she is better able to move with the horse’s movement making the ride smoother. But releasing tension also works with the horse.

Rough movement may be caused by tight muscles. Relaxing yourself and getting the horse to relax can often make a big difference in the ride. I’ve taught many lessons where a horse begins by stomping his feet to the ground. This can be very audible on hard surfaces. Working with the rider to relax herself and subsequently her horse often results in a much softer impact although the rhythm remains the same. Relaxed muscles can dissipate shock waves from impact much better than tense muscles. Also, horses with relaxed muscles tend to put their feet down in a more control manner, therefore lessening the impact.

Better distribution of weight also helps. Exercises that strengthen a horse’s rear end encourage the horse to use the rear legs more for weight bearing. The design of the rear legs cause them to work more like springs than the front legs do. This can mean a softer ride.

The best exercise is probably the demi-shoulder-in (a three track movement, now commonly called the shoulder-in) or the original shoulder-in which is a four track movement. Even hill climbing can be useful in building a horse’s rear end.

A rider should always be conscious of her balance, generally riding with her center of balance directly above the horse’s center of balance. As a horse becomes accustomed to this, the rider can begin to better influence the horse to change its center of balance by the rider changing her own.

Training riders and horses to work in harmony.
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post #3 of 5 Old 04-05-2019, 01:58 PM
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Get a gaited horse :)
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post #4 of 5 Old 04-05-2019, 04:38 PM
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Transitions, done correctly, help build a hrose's balance and thus softer footfalls, since really hard footfalls tend to be when the horse is running in a 'falling out forward' manner. That means he is trotting really loose in front, sort of like you might if you start running down a hill and realize that in order to not fall flat on your face, you are going to have to move your feet faster than you can really control well. you'll end up slapping them down hard and fast, too.


Perhaps post a video of you riding this pony, in all gaits, and we can give you some suggestions on ways to ride him for better balance.
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post #5 of 5 Old 04-05-2019, 07:14 PM
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I've ridden some pretty rough horses over the years, lots of trotting, but can't recall ever having bruised thighs & seatbones from it. I suspect therefore that that is as much or more about your riding style as the horse's rough gait.

Along with training & your riding better, rough gait is very often due to hoof discomfort/imbalance. Eg. if the horse is high heeled, long toed, sensitive feet etc, they aren't going to be using their feet properly & will be jarring the joints every step - can you imagine the damage to the horse's joints, if it's bruising you?? Other body issues may also cause rough gaits, so rule out/treat those too.
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