my walker sometimes paces when he wants to keep up with other horses

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my walker sometimes paces when he wants to keep up with other horses

Post by fxdharley31 on Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:01 am

[font=Impact]he get's a bit jarring when he is doing a run walk and tries to keep up with other horses. it is like a pace. will chains on his front feet help him to pick them up higher and maybe correct this? any suggestions?
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Re: my walker sometimes paces when he wants to keep up with other horses

Post by Got_gait on Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:12 pm

Hey there. I'm not a professional trainer, but I hold my own so I thought I'd put my two cents in here. There are all sorts of things you can do TO your horse in order to get him to DO something or STOP doing something. All of them are a band-aid to help manipulate the outcome without actually solving the problem. Your horse paces to catch up because he is anxious. Anxiety leads to stiffness of frame, stiffness leads to pacing. It's a problem of relaxation. If you deal with teaching your horse to relax on the trail, even when other horses are moving out of sight, he'll just learn to walk faster, or maybe pick up a rack. Many people with this problem do a hide and seek exercise where horses are rewarded as they keep calm when the horses they are riding with get out of sight, and then they go "find" the others. (The others are waiting just around the bend). When it is turned into a game, the horse relaxes and becomes confident that the other horses are just up ahead, losing some of the anxiety of being by himself. When the experts chime in here, they'll have some other things for you to try, but putting chains on the front feet is probably not one of them. Again, band-aid, not solution.

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Re: my walker sometimes paces when he wants to keep up with other horses

Post by Eric Gray on Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:29 pm

I would agree with the previous reply and also add that a pace is an easy gait for a gaited horse to perform. By that I mean that a 2-beat pace is an easier gait for a stiff sided horse to perform than a 4-beat walk, rack, ect. it is as much of a resting gait as a slow canter is to a trotting horse. So you are going to have to work harded to keep him soft and supple to achieve the smooth 4-beat gait and discourage him from pacing. Once a horse has learned the muscle memory of the 2-beat pace it is more work to fix the problem rather than to prevent it.

Got-Gait is correct in calling chains a band-aid solution. Even if the chains did help your horse to gait it is doing so because it is mechanically altering the horses gait, and not dealing with the issues of the horse not flexing through its rib cage. What this means is that if the chains were to work it is because they labored the horses motion enough to alter its hoof flight. So, eventually your horse will require more weight to maintain the smooth gait and the gait will become more lateral "pacey" when weight isn't added. From experiance I can tell you that using weight on a trail horse be it in the form of a chain. weighted shoes, or weighted bellboots may help briefly with your horse but it will cause your horse problems with joints, muscle memory, and bitting in the long run.

Show horses can have success with chains and weighted shoes because they are only asked to work on flat ground and aren't really judged on how well the bend through the turns. Trail horses however need true muscle memory and self carriage so that they can gait smoothly on various footing and over ever changing terrain.

There are several different trainers/clinicians out there (including myself) that can show you methods and exercises that will help you and your horse have more enjoyable trail experiances.

Eric
www.blackthornfarms.com
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