Dixie - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 37 Old 03-13-2019, 06:50 PM
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That's great, I've never had a gaited horse and am following along to see how you work this out.
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post #22 of 37 Old 03-21-2019, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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It's been three months since I got Dixie and I've spent most of that time dealing with her feet. I've only plinked around on her back a handful of times in the arena. Unfortunately I'm one of those beat up old ladies with some fear issues, so have been building a whole inventory of what-ifs about this unknown mare. Her feet are doing great, so yesterday I decided it was time to take those first tentative steps out the arena gate into her paddock. Then out the gate into the driveway. Then off the driveway into the little thicket of trees. At the turn of 30 minutes I was happily untacking a very good little mare!

Dixie is super out of shape and of course the feet have been a problem. She is a very pacey TWH and the way to the walk appears to be getting her to relax, strengthen the back and get the rear end engaged. One of the recommendations is hill work, since it's apparently very hard for a horse to pace uphill. Our property is made to order for that exercise, since it slopes gently through the center to a seasonal stream. Unfortunately, I've had a lot of mischief with barn sour horses in the pasture so confidence was low, but I decided today was the day.

I think I has more fun today than I could have ever hoped for! Dixie was beyond wonderful!

But the best part was, for the first time in my life, I rode just a tiny bit of the legendary Tennessee Walker glide! Oh merciful heavens! Dixie kicked it into gear going up the slope and I couldn't believe the sensation!

It won't be long now before Dixie and I will be trailering to the gorgeous nearby state park, which is seriously up and down, for some wonderful trail riding! But in the meantime, I can actually start having some fun with her here at home!
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post #23 of 37 Old 03-21-2019, 04:41 PM
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That's great.
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post #24 of 37 Old 03-26-2019, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Here's a view I've been anticipating for awhile!


I've been riding Dixie all around the property this past week. Her hooves still aren't 100% but I think this movement will do her a lot of good. I know it's doing me a lot of good! Can you imagine, after years of dealing with a very big, bad attitude and going down to the barn each day dreading the next ride, to brushing the horse down in the barn, with a tingle of pleasant anticipation? Dixie is my dream come true!



We warm up by walking over two sets of four ground poles in hand for about ten minutes. A wonderful little book I have on training gaited horses is giving me just the right encouragement, saying that right now, to cure Dixie's pacey-ness, it's all about getting the tension out, getting the head down, developing her topline and hindquarters and getting her to "separate her feet" in her mind. For a good year, I can work on developing the "dog walk". With the poles, I've been able to help Dixie achieve a gargantuan overstride with very little encouragement. When we first started, she was only "capping" her front hoof prints.


I am riding her in a full cheek snaffle, no noseband. Her mouth is unspoiled (at 17!) but it needs a little tuneup. So when I ride (she stands like a rock at the mounting block!), we work on lateral flexion and lowering the head for awhile. She was very inattentive and high-headed/tense when I first got her. Now I am riding her with her poll level with her withers and lots of relaxation. We are also working on the one-rein stop, which she's really starting to understand.


She put up a feeble back-to-the-barn performance the first couple of days, but that's evaporated. I like to take her into the trees in the photo, and weave around a lot, do a lot of work around the barn before we head into the pasture, which has gentle slopes and a large flat-ish area. She tends to want to charge uphill, and I guess lots of trail riders like to do that, but it's unauthorized, so we are working on calm uphill work. She responds immediately when I check her with one rein. We get to walk, and sometimes graze up on the flat, then before getting put away, she gets to do some more approach-retreat from the barn and weaving through the trees which are very near the barn. Throughout the ride she is keeping her head down and now she's flicking her ears back to me.



Hubby's going to uncover the horse trailer today, maybe, so I can add in some loading-unloading practice. She's been a wee bit reluctant about loading, so that will be a useful addition to our daily exercise.
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post #25 of 37 Old 03-27-2019, 09:18 AM
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Congratulations! What book are you using? When we first went gaited (about 3yrs ago) my husbands horse was a tense nervous wreck and her gait was a nightmare. He worked with his trainer (who is an AQHA trainer) on just relaxing and using her back end and he has a horse loves to gait on now. We never had much luck finding books for gaited horses.

So glad that Dixie is helping you regain your love of [email protected]!
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post #26 of 37 Old 03-27-2019, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carshon View Post
Congratulations! What book are you using? When we first went gaited (about 3yrs ago) my husbands horse was a tense nervous wreck and her gait was a nightmare. He worked with his trainer (who is an AQHA trainer) on just relaxing and using her back end and he has a horse loves to gait on now. We never had much luck finding books for gaited horses.

So glad that Dixie is helping you regain your love of [email protected]!
Oh thank you Carshon! Out of the three books I have on gaited horses, the one that absolutely drills on relaxation and slow, gentle training is "Training the Gaited Horse from the Trail to the Rail" by Gary Lane. The book rambles a bit, but there's no question about his take home message.

I also have "Easy Gaited Horses" by Lee Zeigler which I like a lot, but the emphasis on relaxation, and strengthening to be able to do the gait is not so profound. Lane reckons a lot of gaited horses are wrecked because of people asking for too much speed when the horse isn't strong enough.

One other book I have is The Gaited Horse Bible by Brenda Imus, which I haven't been able to get into.
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post #27 of 37 Old 03-27-2019, 12:17 PM
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WOW just caught up and subbing. I might have probably missed your journal due to timings etc. What a journey so far. Love the pics.

Seriously though before this forum I didn't understand much about gaited horses. But now I need to experience this myself as the more I read about how good it is once going the more I'm like yeah... I wanna pace around the countryside too!
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post #28 of 37 Old 03-27-2019, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kalraii View Post
WOW just caught up and subbing. I might have probably missed your journal due to timings etc. What a journey so far. Love the pics.

Seriously though before this forum I didn't understand much about gaited horses. But now I need to experience this myself as the more I read about how good it is once going the more I'm like yeah... I wanna pace around the countryside too!
You haven't missed anything! Lol! I've only had Dixie for three months!

What I have found out about buying a gaited horse is do your homework first! I only bought Dixie because she seemed like a good granny horse, I wasn't looking for a gaited horse specifically. But Dixie was plagued with hoof problems and turned out to be very pacey (she is a Tennessee Walker). Now it seems that pacing is a huge problem with some gaited horses, which seems to be more of a rider induced problem. A person needs to be aware of the effort it takes to preserve the gait!

Dixie and I are the perfect match, because I just want to go slow, and strengthening her slowly is just what the doctor ordered. As it turns out, she seems to be very happy just walking in a relaxed frame. I am already beginning to see her "walk" away when her buddy chases her in the pasture, instead of pacing away, and getting a giant overstride where she was just "capping" her fore hoofprints.

I do look forward to the experience of "riding the glide"!
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post #29 of 37 Old 03-31-2019, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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OMG! We Gaited Today!

Been working on getting the bracey-ness out of Dixie, As well as teaching her to go with her head down. Plus, improving her lateral response, and yes, teaching the one rein stop.

She has been a little chargey going up the gentle slopes, and I've been discouraging that, but not happy with my own handling of that, been a little too strong, so recalibrated my brain to approach slopes differently so as to avoid unnecessary tussles.

Dixie is really "getting" walking with her poll level with her withers, or a little lower. She seems to like it.

This morning as we approached the first little slope, we had a real two way conversation.

Dixie: "I want to speed up on this slope."

Me: "Okay, but be cool and keep your head down."

Dixie: "Deal."

Wow! We got halfway up the slope and The Glide kicked in! I've never felt it before, but there was no mistaking that this was something entirely new and wonderful!

I didn't mess with perfection! Lol! Only rode long enough to do a little lateral work and make sure there weren't any barn sour bugs. Oh, and she has started daily trailer loading lessons today, as she was a little balky about that when I first got het. No problem today!
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post #30 of 37 Old 03-31-2019, 03:15 PM
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Wonderful! You guys are really coming along!

I love all sorts of horses, I've had Arabians and a Paint and a Mustang.......but now I have a Missouri Fox Trotter and I tell you, gaited horses are so much fun! Just a total blast. When they hit just the right gait, I get a big grin ear to ear.

So anyway, I'm so glad to hear you are enjoying your Walker.

I have three books you mentioned and also liked Gary Lane's book the best. Less pretty photos but really good training and riding advice.

So enjoy your beautiful TWH! I am looking forward to enjoying my MFT all summer too. They are so much fun! I really don't understand why gaited horses aren't more popular. They are the cadillac of trail horses, imo. My girl is black with a little star and a sock too.
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There's a lot of stupid out there!
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