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Training the gait from pace or trot

Any suggestions on gait training? My young foxtrotter either paces or trots under saddle. I’m not sure if I should work on poles with the pace or ask for a trot and try to encourage gaiting from the trot. Or try both and see which results in the most improvement.

She is a lovely horse in every other aspect but her gait right now is very uncomfortable to ride. Still trying to find a saddle that fits her. She’s filling out in the chest and growing wider so everything is pinching. I’m going to try a couple dressage saddles, as my western saddles don’t fit.

Not sure most gaited saddles will work. Her back is fairly flat with wide withers. Anything built for tall withers or with curved bars is not going to fit.

Look up Ivy Starnes, and also Majestic Gaits.

Required reading for any gaited horse owner: Easy Gaited Horses by Lee Ziegler(sp?).

Another wonderful resource is Liz Graves. I don’t know if she is still doing clinics, but she does a terrific clinic, and I believe she has some books or DVDs out as well.

Don’t ask for a trot, use lots of walking and circles. If the horse starts to trot or pace, ask for a circle instead. This is Far better explained by Ziegler.

I saw a short clinic by Starnes years ago (when she was still using her maiden name), and was not impressed. Not awful, but not really worth it either.

Dressage saddles work very well for gaited horses. They tend to leave the shoulders free. Liz Graves recommends dressage saddles for gaited horses.

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This was the case for my gaited morgans, and a clien’ts standardbred: not sure if it relates to all breeds. When they were hollow/tense they paced, when they were round/using their core/back, they trotted. Circles can definitely help, teaching shoulder in was also a game changer for my two. Going bitless helped one of mine relearn the trot as well. Not sure why, other than perhaps getting rid of any possible jaw tension made it easier for him to use his back.

Will she gait if you ride her bareback? I am leasing a Peruvian from a friend and started out using the saddle that belonged to his owner… which I quickly realized did not fit. While using her saddle, he did gait some, but he more often trotted. When I tried my treeless saddle, he did a LOT more gaiting. I wound up getting one of our dressage-type saddles fitted to him and that has been the best for both of us (my hips don’t appreciate a treeless as much as a narrow twisted treed saddle).

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Ugh… if you head downhill does it trot or pace?

If you are walking up an incline and ask for more do it trot or pace?

My gaited KMSH stopped gaiting for a period of time. This was an expensive period, since I tried (1) a dressage saddle, (2) a shank bit, (3) a trainer who turned out to be dishonest and incompetent.

Finally a sort of cowboy trainer started riding him and said he was “extremely stiff”. So he did circles on the spot, so to speak, for 10 minutes each side, before riding him, bending the horse’s neck in an arc to almost touch the stirrup. The gait returned in a week and has not vanished since, but I do still use the small circles before each ride. And he said, “If he ever stops gaiting in mid-ride, alternately touch-back the reins softly on either side of his head.” It’s a little check-your-balance thing for the horse.

Something easy to try, as you look into other solutions. Hope you have good luck - nothing worse to ride than a pace! You feel like a badly-made milkshake.

I never got my Paso Fino mare to trot under saddle. I tried for a short while when I saw her trot one day in the pasture, but I got “cussed out” and stopped trying.

My Paso Fino mare was a natural pacer, 99% of the time in the field and under saddle for a while after I broke her to saddle. I got her into a 4 beat gait after studying my copy of “The Horse in Motion” by Wynmallen (sp?) and using aids that many years later I realized could be considered collecting aids. I could not get my fist between her jaw bones so she could not come up with the classical look for collection, but her back came up and it felt so different under me than her normal pace.

Later on she got to pacing again, occasionally. I found out it I pressed with my thigh as she swayed to the side, alternating, that I could get her back into the 4 -beat Paso gait without using the bridle at all. She would stop swaying from side to side, her back evened out and she was much easier to sit on.

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