Sunday, January 5, 2014

Is My Horse Naturally Gaited?

      As you know, not every animal is the same. What works on horse A, may confuse the heck outa horse B. Pushing one through the bridle IS a great way to collect one to help him gait. I've done all this, and more to help set gait. Why, do you ask, do they NEED set? Aren't they NATURALLY gaited? While it is true that they are naturally gaited, it is a matter of balance. Let's say, for instance, that you LOVE to tango. Your instructor tells you that you have a natural talent for this. One day, your instructor comes to you and puts a 200lb pack on your back and says "TANGO!!" Well, you remember the steps, but your balance is not the same. You have to relearn how to make these moves with the constantly shifting weight on your back. It's much the same for a gaited horse. They have to relearn, in a way, how to gait while carrying someone. If you get them well, and truly "set" in their gait, then yes, you can let them go for extended periods and they still pick it up. But let's face it. Not all horses (or people for that matter) are equally talented. Some horses are just not that graceful, or smart. It doesn't make them "bad", just not as talented. Some of these take a bit more training, but all can gait. Also, in reference to hill work, a long slow hill is EXCELLENT for developing gait, but I've found that working them down a really steep hill will help to develop overstride. There are LOTS of ways to develop gait, or to encourage the correct gait. For instance, I wrote an article not long ago, about the two dirty words for gaited people. One is "Pace", the other is "trot". While any horse can walk, trot and canter, gaited horses were bred to gait. If we wanted one that just trotted, we'd have bought a Quarter Horse! So we get our bright shiny new Fox Trotter out and lo and behold, he PACES like a CAMEL! OH NO! Now what? You may ask, "So what if he paces, isn't that a gait?" Yes, it is, and for some breeds, such as the Standardbred, it is desirable. When training Fox Trotting Horses, however, It is NOT a desired gait. So what do you do to fix this? Deep footing is one way to help "break up" the pace. It encourages them to lift higher, and in turn also helps to break up that pace.

Brooks Gaited Horse Training

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