Pony Gaits

I have never had a pony, even as a child. I bought a pony recently. She’s about 13.2. She’s so… zippy! She’s happy and fast. Her trot is borderline impossible to sit but comfortable to post. I’ve tried all of the tricks I can think of to get a slower trot, but she is just ears pricked forward and happy happy to zip along. I like a comfortable sitting trot, not like the super slow western jog, just comfortable. Never having had a pony with a quicker shorter stride, I’m just curious: should I just not try to mess with it?

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The Three C’s come into play here. Correct, Cadence, Collection. In that order.

Rushed gaits are often a result of being unbalanced, out of shape, overfeeding etc. The list goes on and on.

I’ve had the best luck slowing my horses down correctly with Cruising lessons. Put her on a long rein in an enclosed area, and let her trot. As long as she stays at the trot, don’t fuss with her. Let her trot. If she breaks down to the walk, move back up to the trot after a step or two (let her commit to the mistake, don’t babysit!), if she canters off, do a one rein stop, and start over. She will realize that she could be trotting forever, she has no idea when she will be asked to stop, so she will start to slow naturally. If she becomes so slow the gait is no longer correct, you need to work on her gas pedal a bit more.

The key to this though, is consistency and wet saddle pads. You can’t get a good trot, if you don’t trot enough. I’d be going out daily, 4-5 days in a row, and letting her cruise around. All 3 gaits. She will figure it out. As she gets balanced, strong and can carry herself (and you!) a bit better, her gaits will even out and slow down.


All of the above. Plus remember to breathe and relax. I rode a pony just like yours. She was very sensitive to any tension in my seat. If I got tense she got quick. We sorted it out so you can too.

I think sometimes too, ponies are asked to keep up with big horses, so they never learn to slow and properly having time to flex their joints. Teaching turn on the forehand (and actually crossing properly behind), leg yielding, and trot poles will all help teach joint flexion and help create a more "horse’ trot/jog.

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This is all helpful! I wasn’t sure if I should keep at it or just let her be and accept her faster gaits for what they are. She is definitely getting more balanced and in better shape, so some of this may just happen over time in that case.

Curiously, I have always found a pony to be very quick on picking up on my thoughts, far quicker than a horse. Try to be as quiet as you can, both in mind and motion, and see how the pony responds. Once you are both on the same wavelength, a pony can be such a joy.

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Do you think different bits are worth playing with? I’ve had my saddle checked and it fits great. I’m just riding in a loose snaffle.

If the horse is happy in a simple bit I would not change it. The things the horse needs to learn as far as cadence and balance will not magically appear with a different bit


One thing I have found helpful to slow a horse is to count the beat out aloud. Then vary the speed, up or down, once you have a rhythm/tempo established.

Also, if you are not used to small pony gaits they can seem rushed because the little legs move faster to cover the same ground as a big-striding horse. (Yes, I’ve ridden short-striding horses and long-striding ponies too). Watch the pony loose and count the beat of their natural gait, unhindered by a rider. Then apply that when in the saddle. It is easy to push a pony out of its natural cadence.

I videoed myself riding at the trot and it didn’t look very fast despite feeling so fast! So that’s what I am pondering, if it’s really just her natural gait and I shouldn’t mess with it. I’ll just post for the rest of my life :grinning: