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Gailted Horses

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How to help gaited horses that pace

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It has been my experience that the key to helping any horse perform the gait they are naturally bred to do is to first help the horse understand relaxation and collection. Through specific exercises, we can help the horse both physically and mentally, instead of merely teaching them "tricks".
Gaited horse clinician, Larry Whitesell has dedicated himself to teaching people these principals so that we are teaching the horse for the horses benefit.

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ksking has put it precisely. There are only a few horses that will naturally gait without training and one is the Peruvian Paso which I own. Their offsprings will gait without any training. That being said they will also pace which is a much rougher gait. To stop them pacing and get them into the proper gait you should stop collect the horse by tightening the reins (don't jerk on the rein but rather pull evenly until the horse is collected) at the same time signal the horse to resume their gait. The horse should be back into gait. If not repeat the procedure until the horse understands what you are asking. Be quite in the saddle and keep your hand still but flexible. If your horse starts to get worked up over this procedure stop and walk the horse for 15 or 20 minute allowing him to relax and clam down. When you feel the horse has relaxed collect him up and signal for the desired gait. Usually the horse goes right into the correct gait because it is relaxed, collected (you are supporting their head as well)


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From personal expierence. My pacy mare is only truly 4 beat when she is hyped up she has gone 7 miles in smooth no pace gait when in a very large group that got her all tense and hyped. Her 4 year old, I am training different, I walked him for the first year of riding, did not ask for the gait at all, last fall on our last weekend ride following a very fast horse after he had gone 5 or 6 miles he broke into the best 4 beat smooth. (His sire was also a show horse and Pacy) I do not use gimmics or funky hoof trims. Saddle fit is very improtant. I ride my mare with a side pull so IMO bits can but don't have to make the difference.


I too would be very interested to see Mr. Roberts with a gaited horse.

I have a 6 yr old Tenn Walker/Spotted Saddle horse gelding that I am currently training. My saddle fits good, and he is quite happy under saddle. He will do a smooth gait at first, then as he gets more excited he breaks to a trot. I know he isn't near as collected as he could be and we are working on that. some days he will do a relaxed, easy going running walk and other days he is rougher and hard to keep in it. I have only started working him at his gait, as we have been doing a lot of work at the walk on bending and flexing and stopping. He is not going to be shown, only trail ridden. Any other suggestions on how to get a horse to collect up? He has a very short neck and body, and keeping his nose on a vertical doesn't seem to be so easy for him, he doesn't use his head to pull himself along and he doesn't have to stick his nose out, but hs natural head position is a tad higher than other gaited horses I have seen. Once the footing is better for long lining in a tighter circle, I plan to put the side reins back on him with his surcingle and do lots of circle work with him.

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Every breed of gaited horse has a different way of traveling. If your horse is a true four beat gaited horse they need to maintain the 4 beats. Easier said than done in many cases. I have a peruvian paso which is naturally a 4 beat gaited horse from birth. Many other horses need to be taught the gait and as was pointed out collection is on of the key factors. THe type of bit you use will either help you collect of it will hurt the horses mouth if collected too much. With the bit that I use I can pull on the bit almost as hard as I want and it will not hurt because it is almost a straight bar bit and has a very low port. With my horse I have to keep him collected otherwise he gets strung out and looks bad. Collection also supports the head and neck and give the horse better balance. Peruvian Pasos carry their head high with a prominent chest. TW can also carry their head high as well so don't try to have your horses face on the vertical as long as he is moving well and in gait. To make your horse even better you will need to have quite hands, and a quite seat. Moving around or bouncing messes the horses timing. I use the trick of imagining that my but is glued to one spot on the saddle and between my butt and saddle is a hundred dollar bill. If I move I will look a hundred dollars! Try it and see if you are not a better rider. One other thing is that if your horse starts to pace, stop and just stand still for a few second Collect yourself and make sure your posture is correct, collect your horses head and move out again at as slow a speed as he can maintain in the gait you are practicing. The slower he moves the move difficult it is and this builds muscle and muscle memory. When I show that is one thing a good judge will ask for is a ver very slow gait. Many horses cannot do it because their trainer was lazy and never taught the horse correctly.
Don't know if this helped any of you

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I bought a lovely 9-yr old Foxtrotter 3 months ago and the big challenge is to get him to collect and do a good 4-beat at a relaxed speed. His former owner rode him a lot with a group of people who all rode hell-bent-for-leather as fast as their horses could gait. Porter does a great gait when he is half-scared or hyped up--like your mare, Lona. So I have my work cut out for me, too. Yesterday I put him in a snaffle to just work on softening him and collecting him and he gaited so beautifully I nearly fell off in surprise. However, it was a different story today. Like me, he has good days and bad days. Rome wasn't built in a day!!


I own my 3rd Paso Fino (I've also owned a Peruvian Paso, which is a different breed). My PF's have all had a great, ultra-smooth 4 beat lateral gait but even the same breed have different ways of going. My last PF had a "classic fino gait" which is a quick almost stacatto gait. My current guy has a much less quick gait but you can still hear the "pacha, pacha, pacha" sound that is the hallmark of the breed. My only problem I ever had with a horse breaking gait was when I allowed a girl ride one of the guys who posted which sent him into a trot. Its important to make sure anyone who rides your horse knows how to ride a gaited horse.

eternal_student NSW
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Hi Jjulie83, if by helping gaited horses you mean to be able to choose any gait from saddle, then perhaps I can share my experience to help you.
I retrained 2 ex-pacers, standardbreds, to saddle. They had had a few years of racing, and would select any one of 5 gaits (if you distinguish between a gallop and a canter- walk, trot, pace, canter, gallop) while playing in the paddock.
One of the first steps I did was to lunge them in order to train them to voice command. This might take up to a year, depending on how much time one has and how much racing they've done. When you ask them to do each gait, ALWAYS accompany it with a vocal command, said in exactly the same way every time. Fortunately for me, when I asked them to go into a higher gear from a walk, they selected a trot, so they eventually associated "TRR-ROT!" with their action of trotting. To get them to canter from a trot instead of to pace, I had to run around in a huge circle and skip and jump like a maniac behind them while waving a stick or whip around saying "CAN-TER!" lol. I looked quite comical there for a while but eventually all I had to do was to say "can-ter!". Once that was established I was also able to ask for a pace from a trot.
The next step, once those were Fully established, was to get someone else to lunge them who knew how to say the commands like I did while I rode them. As they said the command I would give subtle aids with my body. After a while of this, the next obvious transition was for me to ride around the round yard using the aids, more obvious now, in exactly the same way while I gave the spoken command for the gait that I wanted. Once this is established you can drop the vocal commands and voila- you have yourself a regular saddle horse!

I understand that this is more pertinent to OTT horses, however hopefully it will be helpful to at least one reader! Another thing, because they were OTT it was difficult to teach collection. Asking for collection seemed to be adding uneccessary complications, so I ran off the vocal cues for a while and let them find themselves in their gaits before asking them to hold themselves properly. Obviously there are many, many ways to do this.
If a horse wants to start pacing when you want him to trot, my advice is to, in the early stages of training, bring him back to a walk and ask for the trot again. Later on, just half halt and firmly say "Trr-rot". I have been in the warm-up jumping ring when I have employed this technique and someone said "Did you see that- that horse started playing up and she just said TROT and he did!" lol.
And the final magic ingredient- the horse must be calm of course :D He won't do the gait that you want if he's all hyped up, and he'll be less likely to be agitated if he is confident in both your abilities, with a lot of prep behind you both :) If anyone would like to know more or just chat about retraining the pacer I would love to talk to you! I'm totally hooked now- there's so many Standies out there to save! :D