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Talk to me of gaited horses

We are not looking now but expect to be in a couple of years. DH is an intermediate rider, does trail riding, hunter paces, and hilltopping with the local foxhunt on his draft cross. He has decided that his next horse will be gaited.

I am a very experienced dressage/eventing/allaround rider but have little experience with gaited horses. He is a low intermediate rider with no experience with gaited horses.
I am wondering things like “do they stay gaited or do you have to train them so that they stay gaited?”

Thoughts?

Some are quite natural and want to do just that ‘lick’ others require a wee bit of work along the way. Or a lot of work :slight_smile:

The tricky part in picking a gaited horse is finding one that’s smooth and fun, and whose ‘regular’ walk won’t leave your trotting horse’s walk, in the dust.

if this works, this is my TWH who takes a lot of tiny ‘texting’ type of riding to help him stay together (lots of quick messages in quick succession). If you don’t know how to ride him, he’ll just pace.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1492791407#!/video/video.php?v=1786450989716&comments
while this mare looks to be pretty easy to keep together w/o much work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urXaj0tEaLA

another that looks natural but not easy- I like this horse, but it’s going to take a little bit to help him stay in it, and he’s working hard to do so. Not a true ‘trail’ horse. That’s a show horse.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcX2n9XRdQM
Good luck in the search, it’s not easy finding the right one.

An important thing is to find someone who has lots of experience in gaited horses to help you along. I wouldn’t have a clue of what a hunter/jumper is looking for and if I were buying one I’d find someone who does and ask for help - and compensate them for their time regardless of what you end up getting. If someone is getting a commision it’s in their best interest to find you something pricey. If they will get X amount per hour or day helping you search it will be much easier for everybody. Even if you feel competant to test ride you need to bring someone to help evaluate the horse. My gaited guy will have one walk and gait in the ring, another going away from the barn, another coming back to the barn, etc so you really need to put time into trying one out. And gaited horses run the gamut from painfully showy to mosey along doggy types. And I’ve always felt that most gaited horses are a tad more “up” than most quarter horses. Mine will go all day like the enegizer bunny (even if I don’t ask LOL) They are so much fun to ride when you find one you click with and worth the search - there is one for everybody!

Read “Easy Gaited Horses” by Lee Ziegler

This may have some of the same information in the articles.

http://iceryder.net/lee/

I agree with the other posters. I helped two of my arab friends find gaited horses this year. It can take some getting accustomed to. It helps to find a horse that is very natural like my singlefooting stallion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n18qcE42PxI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3XxuyoyU9o&feature=related

or our push button waterglass champion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JuhoHiGxog

You also have to decide what kind of speed you want. My rocky mountain horse is more comfy under 10mph. My TWH mare is good about 12mph and my singlefooting stallion is awesome between 12 and 22mph.

I ride a lot of paso finos and have a ton of experience with them. I’ve probably ridden over 100 of them. I’m actually a Hanoverian breeder and a Dressage rider myself (I only own warmbloods), but there are similarities with the riding styles. With Pasos, some are set in their gait, and they never come out unless the rider really screws them up. The ones that are set in their gait usually are older, have had good training, and are well bred and have decent, uphill conformation. Basically, whenever they are on their forehand, they will come out of gait. When they are ridden over their backs in a higher degree of collection, they can be quite smooth, depending on the horse. I have ridden some pasos that are so uncomfortable that I’d rather be sitting the trot on one of my lofty moving Hanoverians instead. However, when you find a smooth one, they are a lot of fun to take on trails and you can ride for hours and never get sore. They do tend to be on the spirited, sensitive, and hot side. You can find calmer ones, but usually they were bred for temperament and not gait, so they aren’t always smooth.

Prefer TWH for disposition, toughness, size, and most importantly gait. Find one that you enjoy, flat shod obviously. And I guarantee your trotting horse won’t keep up at the walk! Naturally gaited walkers will not lose their gait, although I suppose anything can be messed up. Pushing past the running walk will end up either in the trot or the pace, both of which can be quite uncomfortable.

I would not put a beginner on a racking horse without a trainer or at least an experienced racking horse person, because they can/will lose the purity and comfort of the rack. The rack is a trained gait, although the tendency is inherited.

I have to disagree that the rack is a trained gait. For a natural racking bred or singlefooting horse the gait is perfectly easy and natural for the horse. None of my horses were “trained” to rack. It is simply what they do. One of the best “racking” mares I ever owned was a twh that didn’t do a runningwalk. The rack of the saddlebred can be a trained gait, but the rack of a good natural racker is completely natural. See the videos in my above post.

I think that the OP could find a great horse from any of the gaited breeds depending on what qualities they want. When I’m helping someone find a gaited horse I always tell them that each one is as different as a snowflake. I have ridden hundreds and each one gaits and moves a little different. 10 horses could have 10 different variations of gaits, even within the same breed.

yep, agreed: rackers rack and think nothin’ of it :slight_smile: loads of fun and fast :slight_smile:

Thanks, everyone.

It occurred to me that I should ask about canter too. Do most gaited horses have a smooth rideable ground-covering canter? Or do they gait fast enough to keep up with horses cantering on the trail?

Speaking on behalf of my three Tennessee Walkers:

  1. My step-pacer can perform the step-pace at a speed where the cantering horse has to be in an extended canter to keep up with him and he is every bit as champagne-smooth as my two TWH’s that perform the running walk.

  2. My other two TWH’s both perform the running walk but it feels totally different on each of them because they are built different. One is lanky and athletic built, the other is stout and gets accused of being a QH from time-to-time - even though he gaits:confused:

If the lanky guy feels like it, he could make another horse have to canter to keep up with his running walk.

The QH-built Walker isn’t that fast.

While there is a general Rule of Thumb within each gaited breed, they all have their own inherent way of going.

I have three Walkers and three very different personalities but they ALL have a gentle heart & spirit, and willingness to please.

Hope this helps in the Walking Horse department:)

My MFT’s have a wonderful canter. One of them I would canter all day if I could, it is that easy and smooth and wonderful :smiley:

All this talk about Racking horses reminds me how much I want to ride a speed racker, REALLY BAD :slight_smile:

You evaluate a gaited horse the way you do any other horse:

[B]TEMPERMENT

CONFORMATION

WAY OF GOING[/B]

Temperament is an easy one. Any decent horseman can call temperament in a very few minutes of examination.

Conformation is also fairly universal. There are a few differences with gaited horses but they are more “slight variations on a theme” than serious differences. For example, the rear leg of a lateral horse might be slightly longer than you’d find in a trotter. It ought not to be crooked (“sickle hocked”) but this slightly longer leg will allow more “over stride” and will produce a smoother ride. Of course there can be too much of a good thing; this is where an eye experienced in looking at gaited horse conformation comes in.

To look at gait take an 8 x 11 piece of paper and turn in sideways. Draw a line from left to right (or right to left ;)).

Mark the right end “D” (for “diagonal,” meaning trot, the two beat diagonal gait with a moment of suspension) and the left end “L” (for “lateral,” with the end being the true pace). In the center mark it “CG” (for “center gait,” the synchronous, four beat gait).

Now you can take any gaited horse, look at its way of going, and put it on your line. Each breed has names for each of these points (“rack,” “stepping pace,” “paso fino,” “running walk,” “foxtrot,” “marcha batida,” “pasa trote,” etc.). These names can very often confuse a newbie who’s not familiar with the terminology.

The “line method” solves that problem. If you see a horse that is doing a synchronous, four beat gait then you know it’s centered and you don’t have to try and figure out whether it’s a “rack,” a “running walk,” a “flat walk,” or a “marcha de centro.” If you see at horse with a slightly lateral gait you don’t have to worry about a name, all you have to do is say “that looks like an L2” (a lateral gait, just slightly to the “pacy” side). Ditto for gaits to the right of the center march.

The vast majority of North American gaited horses are lateral movers. I’m less familiar with the Central American horses (Paso Finos and Peruvian Pasos). Or Marchadors originate in Brazil and have the broadest range of gait (as they can be lateral, diagonal, or centered and still pass inspection).

The type of gait performed flows from the conformation and the brain of the horse. The brain sends the movement signals and the body responds. In the gaited horse strength, conditioning, and fitness are critical to gait quality. The lateral gaits take more energy than the diagonal gaits. They also require the horse travel with a hollow back. The higher the “L” number the more hollow the back will be. This is not a problem if the rider understands this and mixes the gaits they go (including the canter, and by this I mean a real three beat canter not a “rocking chair” canter).

To get an idea of just how the lateral gait works perform this exercise, first described by Dr. Deb Bennett. Get down on all fours on a carpeted floor (for comfort) and “walk” using the normal equine foot fall sequence. Now “trot” moving diagonal pairs. Don’t try for a “moment of suspension.” Get a feel for the movement. Then “pace” using lateral pairs. Again, try and get a feeling for the movement. If you are doing it correctly then you will find the “pace” exercise is considerably more challenging and will require more energy. A correctly performed center gait (running walk or equivalent) is a relatively low energy gait. The trot is next, followed by the pace.

Since a human is not a horse the above exercise is an approximation. But it it’s useful as a demonstration of the energy budget in types of movement.

Dr. Bennett also points out that every horse can perform just about every gait. By selective breeding we humans have “concentrated” gait tendencies, but we don’t, necessarily, eliminate all others in the process. So it’s not uncommon to find that a Walker will gait beautifully under saddle but trot like warmblood in the field. This is not a problem (although the prospect horrifies certain Walker people). Some breeds produce horses with an “extra gear” routinely. A lot of the PRE horses will do a “suspension less trot.” Generally it’s not a problem and it’s dealt with in the training process. Some PRE enthusiast actually like it. It even will show up from time to time in certain QH lines. Folks sometimes forget that when Capt. King began his breeding program he used American stallions on the very common Spanish mares of South Texas. There’s more Spanish blood behind some QH lines that people remember and this way of going shows up from time to time. Old time cowboys loved it as it was comfortable to ride; modern QH breeders are horrified by it and will “cull” horses that produce it.

I think my “novella” has gone on long enough. :slight_smile: Suffice it to say that the selection criteria for a gaited horse will not vary significantly from those for a trotter. It’s still temperament, conformation, and way of going. On that last one some specialized knowledge may be helpful, but probably less than some “gaited horse professionals” would demand.

G.

My step pacey TWH gelding has a gorgeous canter and a jaw dropping liquidy walk. I took a lesson with Lynn Kimble Davis ( fancy dancy BN dressage trainer :slight_smile: )last summer and she was impressed by both. She didn’t understand his ‘gait’ but his walk and canter - ooo yeah, she loved them both. So, yes.

My SSH/TWH mare who is racky and long and loose in the body, her canter will take more work as she is weak in the loin and prefers to trail those hinds. The horse above overstrides an easy 12" at a regular walk so the jump into the canter is a breeze for him.

So, it depends on the horse, not the breed.

[QUOTE=katarine;5376885]
My step pacey TWH gelding has a gorgeous canter and a jaw dropping liquidy walk. I took a lesson with Lynn Kimble Davis ( fancy dancy BN dressage trainer :slight_smile: )last summer and she was impressed by both. She didn’t understand his ‘gait’ but his walk and canter - ooo yeah, she loved them both. So, yes.

My SSH/TWH mare who is racky and long and loose in the body, her canter will take more work as she is weak in the loin and prefers to trail those hinds. The horse above overstrides an easy 12" at a regular walk so the jump into the canter is a breeze for him.

So, it depends on the horse, not the breed.[/QUOTE]

In a breed with a loose registration standard you are correct. If you’ve got pedigree only as the registration standard you can have a bunch of divergence from the breed standard. That’s not a problem with the TWH, of course, because the TWHBEA does not have a breed standard.

If you have a breed with a realistic breed standard and a rigorous registration standard (including inspection and testing) then you will relatively little drift from the standard. Even here you can have relative levels of conformity (A thru D).

So while the individual horse is always the final “test” just where you go to look for that individual horse can be either helped or hindered by how demanding the breed is of its breeders.

G.

Sure, and I was really just answering the OPs ‘do they canter’ question.

Which US based breed registries actually have inspection and testing? Only one I know of across the board is “AWS”, and within gaited horses, the Mangalarga Marchadors. I don’t know many trail riders willing to invest big money on that particular breed. They are rare, so they are pricey.

Any others?

[QUOTE=katarine;5377295]
Sure, and I was really just answering the OPs ‘do they canter’ question.

Which US based breed registries actually have inspection and testing? Only one I know of across the board is “AWS”, and within gaited horses, the Mangalarga Marchadors. I don’t know many trail riders willing to invest big money on that particular breed. They are rare, so they are pricey.

Any others?[/QUOTE]

IIRC you can still register a Racking Horse by inspection. The procedure involves videoing the horse, sending it to an “inspector” with the appropriate fee, and if it passes then the inspector reports it to the registry.

I’ve heard of some other breeds using a similar system.

In Brazil the ABCCMM (the Brazilian registry) holds inspections around the country during the course of the year (there are in excess of 350,000 MMs in country). This demonstrates that a large scale inspection program is viable. This is significant as many in this country (particularly amongst Walker folk in the “sound horse movment”) have objected to an inspection based registry due to the size of the U.S. and the dispersal of horses around the land.

Right now the USMMA (the domestic breed group) has not established an inspection system separate from the ABCCMM. We get Brazilian inspector up about every other year and he does for both registries. Eventually we want to a have some U.S. inspectors, but the training is rigorous and not inexpensive. IMO the payback is significant in the quality of the horses.

IMO the price premium for the MM is not based upon rarity, for rarity is not a value enhancer unless it’s coupled with a demand. We think we have a superior product and our inspection system is one of the reasons. So far the market seems to agree with us. :cool:

G.

Your husband should try to find a farm with gaited horses to lesson on if he has never ridden them, and before buying should look at horses of several different breeds. Speaking of gaited horses in general they can be more forward than what some people are used to riding (especially true if a person is used to stock and/or draft types). This can intimidate some people.

As far as cantering I agree, it depends on the individual horse. Some canter like a hard trotting horse, many will have more roll or rocking horse feel to their canter, some just really do not canter well/at all under saddle. If the horse has a fast 4 beat gait it can often keep up with other horses cantering just fine.

That’s fine G, I just don’t personally know anyone willing to pay 7500+ for a trail horse. If you know folks that will/do, more power to ya :slight_smile:

RE the canter–my trotty TWH can do the rocking chair canter. MY racking horse has a nice, flat, really almost a QH lope that often degenerates into the wicky wack (cantering with one end, racking with the other). The racker can trot but rarely does under saddle. The TWH can pace once in a blue moon, but his default gait is the trot and he has to be relaxed and reminded to deliver a running walk. He’ll flat walk all day. He Can Not Rack, more’s the pity. Neither of my horse can fox trot, an even greater pity.

My riding buddy has a very very strongly gaited (much more so than my two) MFT that typically looks like somebody throwing a can of tinker toys when he attempts to canter. He ends up pacing and then sort of wallowing back into his preferred gait, which is the fox trot. He can fox trot so fast that my walker has to gallop to keep up. The only time my racking horse delivers a pure, correct, evenly timed and square speedrack is when she’s trying to match speeds with the fox trotter. She can only do that for a maybe a quarter to half a mile and then she gives up and gallops. The fox trotter can do his thing for many miles.

Gaits aside, my experience of the gaited breeds is that they have, shall we say, more vibrant personalities than the stock horses I have known. My buddy swears that foxtrotters are great practical jokers and she appreciates their sense of humor. My walker is the most honest horse I have ever known and the racker seems to have been a union shop steward in a former life–many things must be negotiated.