If you have never done any gaited horse training you are in for some fun and learning! Some gaited horse breeds you may recognize are the Tennessee Walking Horse, Kentucky Mountain Horse, Rocky Mountain Horse, Paso Fino, and Missouri Fox Trotter.
The smooth gaited horses are very fun to ride, but are a bit different from a regular horse when it comes to training. This is because you will need to know what their special movements are and how to recognize them.
Although these special ways of going generally come naturally to the
horse depending on his breeding, training history, and conformation, it is up to you to be able to train each individual animal to pick up and maintain those gaits.
For a starting comparison, let's look at a non-gaited horse. Horses without the smooth movements have four gaits only.
The intermediate gait is a trot, which can be bouncy because the horse’s legs move in unison in diagonal pairs:
left front/right hind and right front/left hind
These pairs of legs move at the same time. This creates a moment of suspension when
all four legs are off the ground
followed by concussion that unless you know how to ride well can cause bounce and make your behind sore!
Many people select a gaited horse because they generally lack that jarring
motion of the trot, making them ideal for people who want to travel at
greater speeds in comfort or for those with back problems. Gaited horses are especially popular for trail riding.
Briefly, all gaited horses have a footfall pattern in which one foot is always on the ground.
Because of this, there is no jarring or bounce when a horse performs these types of gaits. They are smooth riding!
In gaited horse training you can run into an animal that will have have any combination of the following smooth gaits. You will need to be able to identify them so you can be effective in your training. Then when training you can teach him a cue to take and maintain that specific one.
Diagonally Based Gaits
There are diagonally based gaits such as the:
In these gaits the legs move in diagonal pairs
The front foot lands a split second before the opposite hind foot, giving the gait four beats.
The intermediate or square gaits are where neither diagonal or lateral pairs of legs move in unison, but instead each foot moves separately. The footfall pattern is:
These gaits are divided into the
These movements have the same footfall
pattern but are differentiated by their speed, animation and differences
in stride length.
Lateral gaits are when the pair of legs on the same side move in unison.
There are two lateral gaits.
Along with being able to identify the smooth movements you will also need to find out what gaits your mount can perform and what his natural tendency is.
The most essential part and one of the best tips for training gaited horses is to use the horse’s natural talents to your favor in his training plan.
His breed may partially determine what gait he does naturally, but not always. His natural smooth gait or gaits will depend on his breed, age, past training and his individual conformation.
Many old school gaited trainers and training techniques involve very harsh bits used to get leverage on the horse’s head to get the gait. Twisted wire and bits with very long shanks have been “normal” for many years.
natural horsemanship trainers
Parelli horse training’s
David Lichman have brought gentler, better, and more effective training techniques to those who own gaited animals.
All quality gaited trainers teach the horse suppleness and to come onto the bit properly without the use of harsh equipment to force and maintain the smooth gaits.
Horse training DVD’s
horse training books
from those experienced in gaited horse training are a great resource to help
fill in your gaps of knowledge in understanding the world of gaited horse training.
Gaited horses and training them can be both fun and satisfying. Many people who switch to riding gaited horses wonder why they ever rode a regular horse!
Many horse trainers assume that gaited horses are the
same to train. In principle gaited horse training is the same, but the more you know about their way of going the easier it will make your job.
educated on the different breeds of smooth gaited horses and the special
gaits they perform is an important first step for your success in
training these special horses.
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