Pacing when asked for speed

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Pacing when asked for speed

Post by Sunny Admin on Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:18 pm

I have a beautiful very small (maybe 14HH) Reg. RMH mare. She is 12yrs old and used to be shown but has been a broodmare for a couple years. I bought her when she still had a baby belly. We are working on the belly. I am new to gaiting and the barn I board (in Wisconsin) is mostly APHA and QHs. When every I ask my girl to pick up a little speed she wants to start pacing. What is the best way to work on getting her to gait faster without breaking into a pace. Not sure if it matters but she is not shod. Also, any ideas/thoughts on how to strengthen her abs and other then feed work on getting her belly back in shape, because she is so short in stature its hard to hide the belly.




Thanks,
Kathy
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Re: Pacing when asked for speed

Post by Susan Brown on Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:37 pm

SUSAN: Kathy,

It is nice to hear from you. Your question is a common one, especially in your region, where gaited horses are less common.

Firstly, regarding your question about your horse's baby belly, I believe that with proper diet, and lots of riding, her belly should naturally diminish over time. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about your concerns when he comes out for fall shots.

Since you mentioned that your horse has been shown, this tells me that she has been previously trained to go into an evenly timed four-beat gait. For a Rocky Mountain Horse, this is the rack. My guess is that with some collection, drive, and a balanced seat, that she will easily remember how to perform the gait correctly and smoothly.

Many people make the mistake of riding their gaited horses like you would a walk, trot canter horse: loosening the reins and leaning forward to encourage the horse to move forward. This riding style encourages a gaited horse to go into a two-beat gait, either a pace or a trot.

For correct balance on your Rocky Mountain Horse, your weight needs to remain just behind the center of gravity of your horse. Sit deep into the back of your saddle, with your weight in your tail bone, and also some in your heels. Next, keep your shoulders well back above your hips. I want you to think about keeping your chest behind your belt buckle. Your spine should be straight and vertical while you and your horse should be well balanced.

Next, your horse needs to achieve some collection and drive. I want you to shorten your reins until you have good contact with her nose in, and then drive her forward strongly without loosening the reins or leaning forward. Try to imagine that are driving your horse up a hill. It may also help to remember to keep your weight off of her withers in front of you.

If this advise does not positively effect her gait, you may need some help from a gaited horse trainer to guide you through this process.

Kathy, in Wisconsin there is a wonderful club called Midwest TrailGaiters. They schedule trail rides and clinics for gaited horses. You can learn about it at www.midwesttrailgaiters.com. This may be a good source to find information about trainers in your area. It may also be useful to connect you with other gaited riders near you. There is nothing like riding beside another good gaited horse! And be sure to encourage your APHA and QH friends to "Go Gaited!"

Thanks, Kathy, for writing and please update us with your results.

Best regards,
Susan
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Re: Pacing when asked for speed

Post by Caroline Siegel-Hoffman on Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:54 pm

CAROLINE: Kathy,
I think you are right to worry about the belly. So many horses get a sway back from breakdown of those ab and back topline muscles and it is easy to prevent. First thing is get the weight off. If they are over weight it pulls down on the ribcage and adds to the dip in the topline. I use a certified massage therapist on my horses to asses their condition and help relax and stimulate those muscles. It is amazing how after a good massage the rib cagewill lift on it's own. Second step is the workout. Take your fingernail or the end of a hoof pick and gently scratch under their belly behind where the girth would be by 5 inches. Be careful some horses will kick at you when you do this. You should see them "goose" or jump pulling their belly up and lifting their back. I start with five and build each day during my grooming routine.
Try these two things first and see if the pacing improves with a little better posture and body strength. Once the belly moves out of the way she should be able to bring her back legs further underneath herself improving stride and cadence.
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