Can my horse lose his gait?

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Can my horse lose his gait?

Post by Sunny Admin on Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:49 pm

This is the first gaited horse I've owned, and I rarely gait him. Is it possible for him to lose his gait entirely? I've been wanting to start working him back into his gait, and I was wondering how I can go about doing it without confusing him. Asking him to go and then slowing down and then speeding up and slowing down would confuse him wouldn't it? I was also curious if the type of bit helps any? Right now I have a medium shank bit in his mouth. I used to have a long shanked bit and still have it somewhere. Should I switch back to the longer shanked bit? Will it help improve his gait?
~Zoey
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Re: Can my horse lose his gait?

Post by Susan Brown on Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:26 pm

SUSAN: Zoey, since the gaited horses are conformed in a way to give them the ability to gait, they don't normally "forget". They may not be consistently ridden in an athletic manner to encourage a good gait. I'm not sure I understand your first question. Do you mean in that you rarely gait him because you always walk him? Are you worried that you will need to work at a faster speed for only short bursts? If this is your worry, there is no need. As long as your horse if healthy, he or she should definitely be able to increase into a slow gait for a t least a mile at a time to start. During that time, keep your reins short, your weight in the back of the saddle, and sit tall and straight. You can play wit the rein length, seat position, and the amount you push to see how it affects the gaits.
As far as your bit goes, the longer the shank, the less effort your hands or arms need to exert to apply the same pressure to a similar bit with shorter shanks. Tightness of the curb chain is similar. So if you feel you pull and the horse does not respond by bringing in his nose, then in my opinion, you need to train him correctly to respond, not cause more pressure by using longer shank bits. The way to do this is by applying enough pressure to the bit to get him to respond. When he responds correctly, immediately release the pressure. With repetition, he will learn to respond quickly to very light cues. The lighter you cue, the more he or she will listen!
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Re: Can my horse lose his gait?

Post by Caroline Siegel-Hoffman on Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:00 pm

CAROLINE: Zoey - No worries,, he will not lose his gait entirely. You can enhance their gait by the way you ride and train them but the ability is always there. Is there a gaited riding instructor in your area to help you with learning how to ride a flat walk and gait your horse? Having good hands will really help to keep him in the correct gait and keep the confusion to a minimum. Check the TWHBEA website or another gaited horse breed home page to find a gaited riding instructor in your area. CRI's through TWHBEA go through extensive testing not only in riding but gaiting horses. There are quite a few in each state and ongoing clinics across the country. I think getting into a lesson program with a trainer or instructor or attending a gaited horse clinic will really help fill in the missing pieces.
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