Breaking into a trot when asked for a faster gait

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Breaking into a trot when asked for a faster gait

Post by Sunny Admin on Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:38 pm

My horse has lovely gaits, but when we try to transition into a faster gait, she breaks into a trot. I know she can gait at different speeds because she does it at liberty. What can I do?
~Lynn, TX
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Re: Breaking into a trot when asked for a faster gait

Post by Susan Brown on Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:29 pm

SUSAN: One of the most common causes of the trot that I see is when the rider is shifted forward in the seat, and loosening the reins, similar to what you may see in a Quarter Horse rider. The gaited horse rider should maintain light contact in the mouth, and remain just behind the horse’s center of gravity as he urges the horse into a faster gait with the legs and seat.
The first question I would ask is what type of saddle you are using. A forward seat saddle such as a hunt seat or all purpose English saddle is going to shift your weight forward on the horse, which would discourage the horse from driving from the haunches as described in the working walk. The second item I would check is your seat position, again I'll want to be sure you are sitting back deep into your saddle on your seat bones to allow the horse to lift and use the shoulder.
Over-collection can also create a trot. You can think of the horse’s gaits on a see-saw, with trot at one end, and pace on the other. More collection pushes the horse toward the trot, less collection toward the pace. We don't want the horse "behind the bit" whereas you cannot maintain any contact on the mouth. The horse’s body must be relaxed. If their muscles are tense and they are full of energy, and if they are under the bit and held back, they will go “up” into a trot, instead of forward, as needed for the desired four beat gait. Exercises, such as a working walk on a downhill slope and backing will be very beneficial to your horse’s training to discourage the trot.
Another thing to consider is the feet. I always look critically at my own training and riding skills before I look to my farrier for advice. I certainly prefer the hooves and shoeing to be as natural as possible, matching the horse’s leg and body angles. The angles of the pastern and shoulder are lower on gaited horses than traditional breeds, so be sure your farrier will trim according to the horse’s physical needs. I add shoes if the feet appear to benefit from the protection from rocks, etc where I ride. With this in mind, the rule of thumb is that trotty horses can be aided by adding weight to the back feet, and the pacey horse is aided by weighting the front. So you may consider trying back shoes, or even bell boots on the back feet of the horse that likes to trot as an aid during training to help them find the desired gait.
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Re: Breaking into a trot when asked for a faster gait

Post by Caroline Siegel-Hoffman on Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:58 pm

CAROLINE: Don't feel alone this happens to most people when riding or working a gaited horse. Gaited type horses tend to work better in their gaits with
collection and flexion at the poll. When we let them stretch head out and down (similar to a stock type horse head set) they flatten their back and stretch out encouraging a trotty type gait. Of course this head carriage must be done slowly and incrementally when changing your horse to a more collected head carriage with a round back. Having a round back and flexed poll encourages the horse to push off their back end and stay in a true type flat walk.
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