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Discussion Starter · #3,362 ·
A bit more saddle time to end the week (once momma nature turned off the rain).

Friday, I got Hombre out. We did the space needle loop. It wasn't supposed to rain at all, but momma nature had the last laugh with a bit of sleet as we worked our way across Ziesloft's. Thankfully it didn't last that long and we didn't get very wet as the ice mostly bounced off. It also became quite windy, which hadn't been forecast. 🤷‍♀️
Sky Cloud Plant Working animal Tree

Hombre was super forward, wanting to gait or canter any time the ground allowed (likely because of the wind). He wasn't pushy about it, so for the most part I let him pick his own pace, expecting him to tire. But he didn't!
Plant Sky Plant community Ecoregion Tree

As we approached home, I even got this:
11.72 miles, 1601 feet of climb, 6.0 mph average pace, 28F real feel

Yesterday was crazy windy and the temperature never got above freezing. That helped firm up the ground enough that we could get in to clean up the paddocks. I wasn't sure what to expect from Lam when he saw the skid loader for the first time, but he was pretty unconcerned!
Sky Cloud Plant Wood Natural landscape

He and Hombre stood with me for a bit, then decided the whole thing was boring and wandered away to graze. Perfect!

Today, Hombre and I (and the dogs) escorted DH and Flash on their first outing, despite the strong breeze and cold temps. The ground had finally frozen, so we were able to go out Spaulding's. Flash was not sure about the crossing beside the dam (which had a lot of water falling), but he followed Hombre with only a bit of snorting and jigging. Flash was totally unconcerned with the traffic at either road crossing and followed along behind Hombre like an angel the rest of the time.
Plant Tree Hard hat Working animal People in nature

We went across the farm to the Tomhicken to do the small logging road loop. Flash got to lead for a bit of that and trucked along nicely for DH.
Plant Horse Vertebrate Working animal Tree

I was so pleased with Flash's behavior and DH was beaming for hours afterwards!! :love:
6.5 miles, 1001 feet of climb, 4.2 mph average pace, 24F real feel

When we got home from that ride, I kept Hombre in the barn while DH was untacking Flash. I went out and put the muzzle on Phin and caught Lam. Brought Lam in and groomed him up while DH finished with Flash. Then, I turned Flash out with Phin and George. As I had hoped, Phin was too busy pouting about the muzzle to be ugly to Flash, so all was quiet when I headed out with Hombre and Lam.

Hombre was still somewhat insulted about being a pony horse, but overall behaved much better. And a good thing as Lam was feeling mighty fine! I am not sure if it was the weather or if he was feeling less insecure, but Lam tried biting Hombre a couple times, tried rearing and leaping, and tried to turn and kick at Kali! He didn't get away with any of that (and the biting earned him a solid smack every time), so I hope that will be the end of those shenanigans. We went over to the ring for the first time, as well as looping around a couple of fields.
1.66 miles, 144 feet of climb, 4.7 mph average pace, 24F real feel

After that ride, I put Lam back out before tacking Hombre into the barn and that seemed to work a lot better. Hombre was quiet to untack, though quite perplexed when I put the muzzle on him before turning him out. Hombre went to the water tank after he rolled, passing Flash on the way. Flash yielded ground to Hombre but there was no charging, so that was perfect.

I was in and out to check on everyone for the rest of the afternoon, but there was peace in the herd. I filled the water tank and had my normal help:
Horse Hair Head Sky Eye

:ROFLMAO: 🤪 :love:

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Discussion Starter · #3,363 ·
Momma nature has been all over the place this week, so I have gotten saddle time where I could. I keep repeating that mud is better than ice.. but some days that works better than others.

Monday, I got Hombre out. It was the last day of archery/muzzleloader and a holiday, so that limited where I could go as I did not want to mess up anybody's last hunt. I decided on the Tomhicken pole line to driveway loop, as it kept us mainly along roads where the hunters were least likely to be.
Plant Sky Wood Natural landscape Branch

I think Hombre was happy to be out with only the dogs for company, as he could pick his own pace without having to babysit. We had a very pleasant ride and I let him pick the pace most of the time (and he made good choices). In one section, we can canter for probably half a mile. As we loped along, I had time to appreciate how nice it was to be able to just look around and relax (versus having to worry about monsters real and imagined that might appear at any moment and cause acrobatics).
Plant Dog Natural environment Wood Carnivore

10.39 miles, 1680 feet of climb, 5.1 mph average pace, 28F real feel

When I was done with Hombre, it was Lam's turn. Since the ground was actually frozen, I planned to work out in the round pen for the first time, but we started in the stall as always. We worked on brushing of the legs, which I am not sure anybody has ever done before. Lam is fine with picking up a leg and holding it, but the action of the brush running down it must tickle, so he winds up picking the leg up and looking like a flamingo (tho to his credit he does not fling the leg around, try to strike, or anything else naughty). I used the rubber curry versus the hard brush this time and that seemed to help, but it's something that is going to need more work.

I also decided to introduce Lam to the measuring stick, as several people have asked me how tall he is. I knew my guess (14 hands), but figured it would be fun to actually know. Lam was initially quite sure the measuring stick came straight from h#ll to eat him.. but with time and treats as reward for investigating (and maybe the fact it didn't kill me), he eventually stood for me to measure him. I was right - he is 14h exactly.

We went out to the round pen with a saddle pad and the surcingle. Compared to the measuring stick, they barely got a glance. I did a bit of work asking him to yield and move different ways while still on the line, then took the line off and asked him to move off. Initially he was quite perplexed, wanting to just turn and face me so it was pretty clear he had never been longed before. But it didn't take him long to catch on to what I wanted, though he wanted to stay in small circles quite close to me and his default speed was stop. 🤪
Horse Sky Plant Tree Liver

After working on transitions (and using the verbal commands I want to associate with each gait), we came back into the center and met the saddle pad. Lam was initially a little bit wary, especially with it touching his rear or coming up towards his chest. But again, just took it slow and gave cookie pieces as a reward for his bravery.. and eventually had this:
Working animal Plant Grass Tree Tints and shades

The surcingle was even less drama. I expected him to be a bit unsure about it coming up under his belly, but he didn't mind that at all. I walked him around with the girth on loosely and gradually brought it up hole by hole. Good thing he isn't any smaller or I would have run out of holes! At no point did he seem worried or posture like he was thinking about bucking. So, I took the line off and asked him to move out around me:
Not even a hop! Lam wanted to stay fairly close to me and would stop as soon as I took the pressure off, but I was thrilled with how it went overall. I took off the surcingle, led him out of the round pen and took off his halter. He followed me all the way to the barn, so he couldn't have been that insulted! :love:

On Tuesday, temperatures went back above freezing and we had a storm that brought another inch of rain, leaving everything a slick mess. The rainy day gave me a chance to change over from the orange tack and get everything cleaned up and put away.

Wednesday wasn't rainy, but it was damp and windy. I decided it would be a good ring day to test out the saddle changes. I had measured Flash and he seemed to match up to the saddle that had been George's, so I tried that:
Working animal Fawn Terrestrial animal Bag Snout

I hacked over to the ring with minimal drama. Flash actually didn't neigh at all until my phone went off just before we got to the ring (my text sound is a horse, and apparently a pretty realistic one as they have all had to learn to ignore it :ROFLMAO:).

Once in the ring, we worked on bending. Flash is very inflexible and wants to follow the fence to hold himself up. He wasn't resistant so much as clueless to what I was asking. We worked on circles of varying sizes and some big-loop serpentines. We did a bit of work over the poles just to keep him thinking. Mostly worked at the walk and the trot, but did ask for some canter, too.
Cloud Horse Sky Working animal Bit

Going home, he only needed to turn around once, which was a huge improvement. And the saddle looked like this after the ride:
Horse Working animal Horse tack Horse supplies Bridle

4.10 miles, 207 feet of climb, 5.2 mph average pace, 34F real feel

Next up was Hombre. I changed to a different pad and tweaked the shims a bit, so I also worked him in the ring. That was a first for him and he seemed very confused. I worked a bit with his bridle on to start with:
Horse Cloud Sky Bit Working animal

And then pulled his bridle off and rode him bitless. Hombre felt the same to me either way, which was very nice. He is also not very flexible, so something we will keep working on.
Cloud Horse Sky Tree Horse tack

And the mystery of what are his legs doing is solved - he does indeed trot as well as gait!
2.77 miles, 121 feet of climb, 5.3 mph average pace, 32F real feel

The next storm came in yesterday and gave us another inch of rain. Today was supposed to be partly cloudy, but instead it was drizzly all day with a crazy wind. Hoping to get some saddle time tomorrow..

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Discussion Starter · #3,365 ·
Do you cue him differently for the gait vs the trot?
So far, I have not found anything which will consistently get him to gait versus trot. I am now trying to play with seat, leg, hand, and verbal cues (and combos of them) and see if that changes anything. In general, if he is cranked up, he is much more likely to gait than trot, so I am trying to find ways to create that energy without the angst (I really don't like feeling like I am hanging on his face).

In the past, I have had people tell me that a gaited horse has to be "held in the gait" with that kind of constant, hard contact on the bit, but I refuse to believe that is true. And honestly, if that is the only way I can make him gait consistently, then I would rather him be relaxed and trot.

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So far, I have not found anything which will consistently get him to gait versus trot. I am now trying to play with seat, leg, hand, and verbal cues (and combos of them) and see if that changes anything. In general, if he is cranked up, he is much more likely to gait than trot, so I am trying to find ways to create that energy without the angst (I really don't like feeling like I am hanging on his face).

In the past, I have had people tell me that a gaited horse has to be "held in the gait" with that kind of constant, hard contact on the bit, but I refuse to believe that is true. And honestly, if that is the only way I can make him gait consistently, then I would rather him be relaxed and trot.
Dylan doesn't ever relax when gaiting. He's always stiff with his head straight up. Whereas with the trot, I was able to train him to relax and stretch down. I know it's frowned upon for gaited horses to trot but I'd much rather have him relaxed and comfortable, too.

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Discussion Starter · #3,367 ·
It seems crazy that they can't relax and gait.. but could that be some kind of physical thing somehow conected to the action?

@boatagor Does Dylan gait at liberty in the paddock? How does he look when he does? @knightrider same question for all your gaited herd members.

Hombre does sometimes gait in the paddock, but again generally when something has him all cranked up. And he sure doesn't look relaxed about it..

Nicole's Polo generally trots out in the paddock. Her show Pasos would gait, but also with heads stiffly up. 🤷‍♀️

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All of my barn owner's gaited horses I've ridden - TWHs, spotted saddle horses, a kentucky mountain - gait and never trot, regardless of what you're doing in the saddle. Most of them are pretty slow and relaxed, and her one lazy old style TWH mare needs ample encouragement to go faster than a walk but still always gaits once you get her there. I know some people say that collection produces a higher quality gait, even in horses that don't trot at all, but I can't say I'm experienced enough with gaited horses to know the difference.

She had an old lazy standardbred that was a 50/50 on pacing or trotting. He was actually more likely to pace when you didn't collect him than when you did. His pace was horrendous though...

She has a paso as well, and he gaits regardless of what you're doing, but he is also never relaxed under saddle.

A rocky mountain I used to drive always gaited regardless of what you were doing.

The one Icelandic I rode was nearly impossible to get to tolt unless you were really cranking on her face and insistently driving her forward with your leg. The breeder, though, said that there is an expansive spectrum of Icelandic tolting preference - some heavily prefer to tolt, some heavily prefer to trot, and lots are somewhere in between and are taught differentiating cues. He said that in Icy-specific breeding/sport, the horses are traditionally taught to tolt when collected, but he bets someone could train them to tolt reliably without any rein contact if they were determined. But also, he made a point to say most of these horses aren't being cranked on when "collection" is mentioned - collection and relaxation aren't necessarily mutually exclusive (I bet dressage riders would have a lot to say about this!). Unfortunately, some gaited individuals prefer the trot so strongly that they won't gait while relaxed. Others will.

Given that info from the Icy breeder, plus personal experience, it seems like it largely depends on the individual horse +/- strength and training modifications, but the latter two can only do so much.

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Dylan trots at liberty. I think he carries tension in his gait from bad training. I heard from a prior owner that when he was saddle trained, the woman would beat him over the head with a crop for spooking. I can't imagine she was gentle when asking for a gait.

A couple of times I've gotten this really incredible walk from him with the longest stride you've ever seen. It's not fast necessarily but it covers a ton of ground. It feels like you're on a swing going forward and back when he does it. That gait, he is relaxed for. I was working on transitioning it from the lunge to under saddle consistently when we moved and haven't found anywhere he's relaxed enough to do it since, but I'm hoping once he's home and I have my arena, I can really work on it. I think I can probably build from that for a true running walk eventually.

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It seems many gaited horses are trained to gait with contact on the bit. I tolted on an Icelandic and her cue was to have bit contact and the rider to lean back into a driving type of seat. She didn't require hard or holding contact though, just reins that weren't slack.

I also rode my cousin's Peruvian Paso for a while. He preferred gaiting and rarely would trot (it was difficult to get him to canter also). He did not require bit contact, but if he had contact he would gather himself back instead of doing extended gaits. Without contact he'd tend to get faster and stretchier, and with contact he'd keep his legs going fast but would cover less ground.

A TWH I rode would gait on loose rein, but when you were going very fast (racking?), he would step out farther if you put contact on the reins.

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@phantomhorse13 as @gottatrot has said many gaited horses are taught to gait with contact and need to be driven into the bit. My daughter rides bitless and since she trained her mare herself she doesn't ask for contact and her mare has a lovely gait (fast and slow) Ivy Starnes has so many great youtube videos to help gaited horses gait with a relaxed headset. I have used them the last couple of year and while Tillie seems to look for the contact I can start out with contact and then let my reins become very loose and she will maintain her gait.
I love to see your photos and posts!

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Chorro always trots in the pasture and gaits under saddle. Chorro can give me a rough gait and if I initiate contact and push him a little with my heels, he'll give me a better gait. Then I relax the reins to tell him, "That is what I wanted. Good boy. Keep it up." You kind of have to be on your toes with Chorro. He has the potential to be amazing, but can get lazy.

Isabeau always gaits. I have never seen her trot. Isabeau gaits no matter what you do and it is 99% always smooth and comfortable if she doesn't get going fast. If you ask for more speed, she can get rough.

Aci gaits and trots in the pasture and under saddle. When he trots, I do the same as Chorro--tighten the reins, press my heels into him and say, "I don't want that. Don't do it," and when he gives me what I want, I slack off and just settle my body into his gait. I loaned Aci to @4horses for about 3 months while her mare had her colt. 4horses rides a lot faster than I do and gaited him a lot more. When she gave him back, he had an AWESOME gait! I could tell she really got him going nicely. Gaiting him frequently and telling him, "I want this, not that," really made a difference.

Windy, our TN Walking horse, does all kinds of crazy stuff--I don't know what all she does, both in the pasture and under saddle. I do the same with her--tighten the reins and let her know I don't like what she doing and cut it out. When she gives me what I want, I relax. Sometimes she continues the great gait and sometimes, after a bit, she gives me garbage again. I just keep repeating "I don't want that" until I get what I do want. She is the most work of my 4 gaited horses, but she is also exciting and fun because she improves with every ride. She originally had no gait at all (except yucky garbage) and now she can be super exciting and fun. She has a super slow fun canter that I can't make myself stop when I ask her to gait at times. That canter is just so fun, I just let 'er go.

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Discussion Starter · #3,374 ·
Ivy Starnes has so many great youtube videos to help gaited horses gait with a relaxed headset.
I will have to look her up, thanks for the name!

Seems like consensus is, it all depends. Which shouldn't surprise me as I think that is the answer to most things with horses! :ROFLMAO:

I will keep playing with Hombre and see if I can further expand his gears. I don't mind the trot, but seems like having more gears would only be to his benefit doing distance, as that gives him more chances to use different muscles. I wish the ground would either dry out or freeze up, because being able to take him out on bareback rides helped me the most with the gaiting. I should try going over to the ring bareback and see if that makes a difference, but somehow being able to work in long, straightish lines seems to be easier than figures/circles (and its certainly less boring).

I keep reminding myself that this year's wet is better than last year's ice.. but I am greedy and want useable ground for Lam and for playing with Hombre!

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I have had three Tennessee Walking Horses (Dillon being the current one)

The first one walked, gaited, and cantered. She did this even if she was bareback and riding with a halter and lead rope. Her name was Beauty and if I ever get to heaven, I think that is the horse that I will ride.

The second one, Chief, had nice gaits. He could get cranky and try to chose his own gait.

Dillon, my current horse, has many gaits. He has walk, trot from the pits of hades, lovely gait, canter so sweet it is amazing. He also has a gait that I call "broken washing machine". It is when he gets off to a bad start on his canter and halfway trots. And another favorite seems to be "buck like a bronco". The jerk. After not getting me off, he backed beautifully and rode like a gentleman. So that makes 6 gaits. Lol.

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Discussion Starter · #3,377 ·
I got to have a very horsey weekend, which was great as today was another mess on momma nature's part.

Saturday morning, DH and I got Flash and Hombre out. We did the loop behind Christine's house. It was supposed to be partly sunny, but was cloudy and damp instead. It started sleeting not 5 minutes after we left home - surprise!
Plant Plant community Sky People in nature Working animal

We went up the first two tiers of our side of the Sugarloaf as Flash hadn't been that way before. He moseyed along behind Hombre without issue, despite the sleet pelting him.
Horse Plant Tree Working animal Horse tack

We stopped to see Christine and Gary briefly as we went by their place.
Horse Dog Vertebrate Sky Working animal

Horse Equestrian helmet Working animal Bit Tree

The boys were very good. Hombre was much better about standing to wait for Flash to catch up when walking, so the slower workout is actually working his brain versus his body.
5.61 miles, 942 feet of climb, 4.4 mph average pace, 26F real feel

That afternoon, I went over to ride with Christine. I rode Asad. We moseyed around the Sugarloaf and the farm.
Horse Plant Working animal Tree Horse tack

Both horses were on their best behavior, though I think they thought we were crazy to be out in the off and on sleet as they both kept wanting to turn for home.
Horse Plant Vertebrate Tree People in nature

4.13 miles, 866 feet of climb, 3.6 mph average pace, 28F real feel

Sunday was supposed to be cloudy ahead of the incoming storm, with lows in the low 30s overnight. I planned to work with Lam first as I expected the round pen ground to have firmed up in the cold. Wasn't I surprised when the sun came out as I was eating breakfast. By the time I went to the barn about 30 minutes later, the top of the ground was already thawing from the sun. Go figure!

I took Lam into the barn and started grooming. He was a bit fussy with his legs being brushed, and I guess his quarter ran out early, because when I got to the last leg, he picked it up and kicked out! Needless to say, that got a HUGE correction as even though it was not a full-force kick and was not aimed at me, kicking around people is never ok. He has playing bitey games with Flash and Phin a lot, so I wonder if he thought grooming was some version of the leg biting game.. so hopefully that will be the end of that idea!

After finishing with grooming, I decided to start introducing the cordless clippers. Lam didn't mind them at all when they were off, letting me touch him all over with them. Once I turned them on, however, they were very scary indeed. I stood and let him snort and look, then rewarded him reaching out to investigate them. He is a huge cookie monster, so he soon decided the clippers were not more scary than cookies were yummy. I was able to stroke his neck with them running on both sides by the end of our session, so I was really pleased with that.

Next, we went out to the round pen. The sun was still out, so the top of the ground had thawed. I did a bit of work in hand with yielding parts, then moved on to working with the pad. I put the pad on and then intentionally let it fall off the far side, which was quite alarming in Lam's opinion to start with. By after a few tries, the clumsy pad handling was just another part of the silly human experience:
I put the surcingle on, then did a bit of work with teaching him to jog in hand. He caught on to that very quickly:
After that, I took the surcingle and pad off and went out of the pen to turn him loose. He followed me all the way back to the barn, hoping to find some way to earn more cookies.

Next, I grabbed Hombre and went over to meet Nik and Copper. Of course as soon as I got on, the sun disappeared and the wind picked up! Hombre was a complete basket case, looking off in to the distance and spooking at nothing. We decided on the Sugarloaf loop, as the north side would have stayed in the shade so would still be frozen. Copper led in the hopes it would settle Hombre down.
Horse Sky Cloud Plant Working animal

About halfway around, Hombre settled some but was still giving the hairy eyeball to a lot of things. We did a bit of exploring up a logging road I hadn't gone up before and he was very sure that going away from home was going to be the death of all of us. Once we were heading in the right direction, he would at least flat walk. He outwalks Copper even when he isn't upset, so we led on the way home.
Cloud Sky Plant Horse Tree

6.01 miles, 794 feet of climb, 4.5 mph average pace, 29F real feel

When we got back, I put Hombre into a stall with hay and water to wait for DH to get done with his meeting. I went out to clean the hay feeder and was surprised when Flash left the piles of hay I had out to stand at Hombre's stall door and paw! It was fascinating to see him paw the door and then turn around and pointedly look at me - talk about who was trying to train whom!! Flash fussed for the whole 15 minutes I was working, then it was time to grab him and bring him in.

In the stall, he wanted no parts of his hay bag. Instead, he kept turning to look at Hombre in the stall next to him and paw. I had to laugh, as it was from the same bale but I guess since it was where it couldn't get to it, he figured it was better! I did my best to ignore the pawing but did correct the antsing around he did. I finished getting him tacked up just as DH got home.

We headed out to do the Sugarloaf loop. Hombre was back to normal but Flash was still a bit fussy. He wanted to jig leaving home, which DH corrected. That prompted Flash to pin his ears and then swing his butt at Kestrel jogging along beside him! DH made it very clear that was also unacceptable behavior! Thankfully, that was the end of that and Flash settled down.
Plant Cloud Sky Leg Tree

As we worked our way around, Hombre stopped at our normal places to grab a bite or two of grass. Flash actually followed suit for the first time! They also had a good drink out of a puddle at one point. Excellent!
Cloud Sky Plant Tree Mountain

5.56 miles, 751 feet of climb, 4.7 mph average pace, 27F real feel

We timed things well, as the sleet and snow started about 30 minutes after we got home. The storm wound up being more rain (0.4) than snow (about 1"), leaving a slushy mess as it ended around lunchtime today. Once the precipitation was done, it got crazy windy. I am sure hoping that subsides by tomorrow, but I am not holding my breath..
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