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Hello,
I've recently gotten back to riding after 15 years off. I rode Saddleseat for 10 years and then basic dressage for another 5 or so. Then I had a long time off and am now trying to get back into it. I've found a great barn in almost every way except its mainly western and I have no experience in this area. They have a wonderful, affordable shareboard program and I've recently started shareboarding a Tennessee Walking Horse. Her owner has no problem with me riding her English, and I'm just more comfortable riding this way (nothing against western, just what I'm used to) So, the mare is great and I love her, but I"m having a hard time with the gait. I can't seem to get her to gait and instead she is doing a pace. This is murder on my lower back, which is already in bad shape. Today I rode with her owner watching me and she tried to coach me into how to get her to gait, but she was just pacing. Then the owner got on her and she wouldn't gait for her either. So the owner told me that it would be fine for me to just ride her at the pace and post to it to save my back. I tried it and it seemed pretty fine - a little weird, but not too different from a trot. (this mare does not trot at all)
So I thought that was that but I started researching a little tonight and I keep coming across things that say you should not let your horse pace, you should train the pace out of them, etc.. Even though the horse's owner (who is also the owner of the barn) came up with the idea of letting her pace and having me post to this, is this truly something I should not be doing? I've read a few things that say this can actually hurt the horse. I have no experience with gaited horses, so I am looking for opinions on this. Is it really ok to ride this mare at a pace and post to it like its a trot?
 

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Pacing isn't going to hurt the horse, and if you're comfortable riding it and the owner is okay with you riding her pace, then I don't see any cause to worry. People say not to let horses pace because they would rather train for the smoother gait, and "letting" them pace will discourage them from putting more effort into the more comfortable ride. This all comes down to owner preference, which is why I wouldn't be worried so long as the owner doesn't mind.
 

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I used to have a pacey TWH and after a few rides you get used to the side to side instead of up and down for trot. He would always start out pacing and when warmed up would gait. I had no clue how to ask for the gait. But he’d go into it on his own. Chances are the mare you’re riding will do the same after a while. I wouldn’t worry about hurting the horse. The pace is a natural gait to them.
 

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i hope you can work it out. Remember that when you lease a horse, it is at least as important to have a good relationship with the owner as it is to have the right horse. If the horse is sane, has a good work ethic, and you have the support of the owner, you can, and will, work this out. Best of luck , and gait on!!!
 

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Hello,
I've recently gotten back to riding after 15 years off. I rode Saddleseat for 10 years and then basic dressage for another 5 or so. Then I had a long time off and am now trying to get back into it. I've found a great barn in almost every way except its mainly western and I have no experience in this area. They have a wonderful, affordable shareboard program and I've recently started shareboarding a Tennessee Walking Horse. Her owner has no problem with me riding her English, and I'm just more comfortable riding this way (nothing against western, just what I'm used to) So, the mare is great and I love her, but I"m having a hard time with the gait. I can't seem to get her to gait and instead she is doing a pace. This is murder on my lower back, which is already in bad shape. Today I rode with her owner watching me and she tried to coach me into how to get her to gait, but she was just pacing. Then the owner got on her and she wouldn't gait for her either. So the owner told me that it would be fine for me to just ride her at the pace and post to it to save my back. I tried it and it seemed pretty fine - a little weird, but not too different from a trot. (this mare does not trot at all)
So I thought that was that but I started researching a little tonight and I keep coming across things that say you should not let your horse pace, you should train the pace out of them, etc.. Even though the horse's owner (who is also the owner of the barn) came up with the idea of letting her pace and having me post to this, is this truly something I should not be doing? I've read a few things that say this can actually hurt the horse. I have no experience with gaited horses, so I am looking for opinions on this. Is it really ok to ride this mare at a pace and post to it like its a trot?
If the owner got on the horse and couldn’t get it out of the pace either — it’s important to know if the horse has ever done a proper intermediate gait for the owner?

If the horse has performed something other than a lateral pace, then some thing is wrong.

Either the horse is being ruined by the owner who doesn’t know how to ride a gaited horse, or the horse has structural issues and might very well benefit from a chiropractor.

Everyone involved would benefit from some training by a gaited horse person before the horse gets ruined. In other words, I am saying “no it is not ok”. I’ve respectfully ridden and owned Walking Horses since the early 1980’s. Reading that the owner of the horse thinks it’s ok to let the horse pace and you post to the pace, is right up there with fingernails going down the chalk board.

It isn’t your fault and thank you for asking the question but the horse needs looked at IMHO.

It could also be something as simple as the trimming or shoeing is all wrong for the horse.

If you don’t have access to a decent gaited horse trainer to help evaluate the e tire situation, you could take a look at this website.

https://ivyshorses.com/

Since this is not your horse, you are limited in what you can do for guidance but the owner’s response to your question was about as uninformed as they get when it comes to a gaited horse. It sounds like she knows less than you when it comes to gaited horses.

I would like to see the horse, NOT saddled, from a side view, if the owner would permit it.

Also, some clear pictures of the hooves, from the side and not wet. Just brush them free of dirt. Sole shots would also be great:)

That all said, welcome to the forum! Hope to hear from you often
 

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I also have a pacey TWH, my first one. I've spent a lot of time this past year (since I first got her) both reading and working with the horse. The potential for damage from the pace seems to be the result of the horse carrying itself in a hollow manner, without sufficient engagement of the hind end, which may result in things like kissing spines, which is why the pace is generally discouraged. The tendency to pace seems to be the result of modern breeding. Apparently it is easier to shape the big lick from the pace than from a natural walk. The gait seems to be in the engagement of the hindquarters and relaxation of the neck and shoulders. I tried a lot of "traditional" type fixes - ground poles, hill work, etc. but we were both very frustrated with that type of work (My girl is a sensitive little flower! LOL!) My best success has come since I purchased a 3 DVD set by Larry Whitesell. His work dwells entirely on teaching classical aids and does not even offer specific exercises to "make" the horse gait. That, and I must admit, clicker training has played a powerful role. Teaching the gait is truly strength training of the hind quarters and it takes some dedication, because you can easily lose ground if the horse is idle for long periods (like my mare, due to weather).

So it seems, the pace versus the gait can be a complex issue, that can have a strong basis in the horse's individual "hard wiring". I think you wouldn't want to "force" it on someone else's horse, but I've heard that lessons with a good teacher can help bring a horse into a self carriage that will result in gait without forcing it.



Recommended reading: Easy Gaited Horses by Lee Ziegler, Larry Whitesell's DVDs, Ivy Schexnader website, Gary Lane (can't remember title of book).


Lee Ziegler's book is wonderful, and there is an important passage in it that says if you don't want to go to all this work to help your pacey Walker gait, nobody's going to die. It's up to the individual just how much effort and patience they want to expend on it.
 

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I was thinking research had advanced enough that you can test for the gene that gives a horse the ability to pace.
 

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I think there is a "gaited gene" and all gaited horses have it. But what gait they prefer, I think is still individual.


For instance, I had a 1/2 Missouri Fox Trotter/ 1/2 QH. He would fox trot if held him just right. He never paced EXCEPT once or twice when we were practicing cantering and he was starting to get tired. I took that as a good sign, that he inherited "gait." But you never had to worry about him pacing. He would either hard trot or fox trot. His momma was similar, she fox trotted unless you were pushing for the canter. But other gaited horses seem to pace as their default. Gait is on a continuum from trotty to pacey. Some are trotty, some are pacey. Some are square......right in the middle, which I think is considered desirable.
 

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@trailhorserider - Yes, it's genetic even in gaited breeds. When the equine vet asked if Trigger is gaited, I said no. She was astounded. He's built to be a gaited horse. She shrugged and said: Eh. He may have just not won the genetic lottery. It's all in the genes.


And before anyone says she may not know anything about gaited horses, her family has bred, raised, and trained Spotted Saddle Horses all her life. That's what she grew up with and that's why she thinks he's a SSH... but that's neither here nor there. Some individuals of gaited breeds just don't gait.
 

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When a gaited horse that used to gait starts pacing it usually means the horse it out of shape or may need a jaw or back adjustment. The page is actually pretty undesirable. A true gait is natural for the horse but the horse has to be in shape to do it. When my husband first took lessons on his gaited mare she paced. We would stop her and ask again. Eventually she would gait and now she really only paces when very tired or needs an adjustment. Muscle memory plays a big role in this.

If you ever go onto Facebook I would suggest looking at Ivy's Glide Gait facebook page - it is very informative
 
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