Equestrian Blogs > Montana2007's blogs > tripping gaited horses

tripping gaited horses

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Well, Mr. Whatever I might call you, OK. I will call you Woodroe for now...Geez. Now you expect me to drink and blog. Have you not read the rules? NO drinking and blogging allowed or you will be deleted or laughed at. People will also create new user names for you. What was Woodroe horses name in Lonesome Dove, by the way.

Holy Cow. We are sooooo off topic here.

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Quoting author:

Is that why you see men puttin' on their pants and puttin' bits in their mouths?


Mr. Woodroe. You are soooo funny...

Annie. I think Mr. Montana likes it when we high jack his blogs. It probably makes him feel loved...and needed, maybe even desired...(well, this is a dating site and there most be more than horses here)

Mr. Montana, Come out, come out, where ever you are. Horses are tripping, people are tripping, Mr. Woodroe is designing bits for men....oh, my.

Which reminds me, I discovered a new drink while I was in Minnesota. Forget the Blackberry brandy. I like the Mudslide (like a chocolate drink) with a touch-Ok a few touches) of vodka. My education of the fine art of drinking is improving! Maybe now Mr. Monroe can make some chocolate pie.........

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Sorry Montana,
didn't mean to hijack your blog. I see you haven't joined the frey. :-{
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Starhorse,
Our motto was peace, love, sex and drugs and Don Newman (whoever the H*** he is). Sorry guys I've calmed down a lot in my old age. And No I never inhaled!!
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I understand the "tripping horses". I survived that time. LOL. Drugs, wild sex....oh, my! Annie, did you also go through the revolution? I still remember those who lived in communes as it was the end of the flower power days.

and of course, those dripping ceilings................all those winds of change that made us who we now are.

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Has anybody understood my "tripping horses" comment? I know I'm not the only child of the "70's". Maybe I'm just the only Ecupid wild child. :-D

I am not talking about drugging hunters and jumpers. Goodness! If they have to be drugged, then find them another career.
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Quoting author:

Only you Star, I like the sidelong glance you take at everything and your ability to entertain as well as inform..."Trippin' Horses," Ok here's one fer ye!


Yes, Mr. Woodroe. I have learned this is a great way for me to learn more about myself...looking sideways that is. I have been exposed to every breed and horsemen from the local to the international levels. In the end, they all put their pants on and put bits in their horses mouth the same way. Funny thing is, the good ones seem to all have the same basic training ideas...

Annie, as we know. The people in the hunter/jumper competition world all seem to carry that little magic bag around them all the time. They are always looking for new medical drugs that will not be detected... I think so far the dressage people are the most careful about drugs. I still remember the days when the quarter horse people found ways to get a horses tail to lay limp, or the ears, or the neck....and when they could school with a curb bit than enter the snaffle bit classes. It seems almost all the breeds have there way, until the trainers get wiser and learn it is easier to teach a horse the basics.

Nowadays, the flat shod and natural walking horses are also screened for drugs and tested for any scarring that shows artifical training. They are not at all like the infamous "big lick" trainers where you can walk in the show grounds and smell the meds everywhere...

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Montanna...
All you've got to do is lock them up for a couple of days and let them detox then find that drug dealer and send him packing.
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1 year ago
Quoting author:
Great point of view, Capn', and one that I sort of held when first approached by these clients. Now most of these myths are held in stone by the owners of the horses that I'm concerned with. In fact I have been systematically "lectured" on the myths by most of the owners proud of their "unique" breed. And vome to think of it these are the ones that trip all the time... tend to be stargazers. Three wrinkles??!!!! Hell I've seen them going for four!!!!! So you can imagine the diplomatic skills I've had to exercise over the past year. I could go on and probably will. As Star mentioned, I'm sort of "wrapped up" at the moment and don't have a lot of time for the blogs.


Montana I'm sure you know but it might be worth the mention. Some horses like dogs will take on characteristics and bad habits of their owners. Wouldn't it be nice if a fellow could get to the point where he could use the Morris System. I have on occasion and in retrospect was glad I did.
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Mr. Woodroe is correct. I have seen those gaited horses do all the movements, including the dressage and jumping.(all with snaffles) I think most people are thinking of the "big lick" horses when they are talking about what the Walking horses are not able to do.

Also, as to the saddle. Many people are still sitting them up on their horses withers. We were taught to do that years ago. What you have said is right on. The saddle should be four inches behind the shoulder, and not on the shoulders....

As to bits, we all know that the difference between bits is often the hands on the other end of the reins...

I have also seen horses of EVERY breed do different gaits. Some of those dressage riders have learned the art of teaching their horse how to pace at the walk very well. LOL!

Thanks for taking the time to write this. A horse is a horse regardless of the breed. Many of our best horses are ruined by the method of training that is used for them. There are good and bad trainers in every area of horsemanship. Of course, those of us who have lived around horses know that sometimes a horse, like a human, can be born mentally challenged...that is the way of life.

I almost giggle each time I see the title on this blog. Who is it that is tripping all our gaited horses? LOL.

I am going to be gone for a few days so you folks keep these blogs moving. I will return next week and hope that I have some catching up to do here.

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Great point of view, Capn', and one that I sort of held when first approached by these clients. Now most of these myths are held in stone by the owners of the horses that I'm concerned with. In fact I have been systematically "lectured" on the myths by most of the owners proud of their "unique" breed. And vome to think of it these are the ones that trip all the time... tend to be stargazers. Three wrinkles??!!!! Hell I've seen them going for four!!!!! So you can imagine the diplomatic skills I've had to exercise over the past year. I could go on and probably will. As Star mentioned, I'm sort of "wrapped up" at the moment and don't have a lot of time for the blogs.
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1 year ago
You know Trigger was a Tennessee Walker and I have a fondness for the breed have had several and my present pard Thunder is of that breed.

So this deserves a 10 cents worth instead of my normal 2 cents...

1) Smooth gaits are artifical.

Not so, gaited horses, natural horsemanship, and trailriding go very well together. Good trail gaits aren't created by specal tack or riding techniques they're bred in to the horse and brought out by good teaching.

2) Gaited horses are high-headed nutcases.

Not so, most gaited horses are very gentle and very sensible. While it's true that most are naturally up-headed as are some of the (supposedly) non gated breeds, such as Morgans. Throughbreds Quarter Horses have a set that looks like their necks are coming out of their backs and are less high-headed. Tennesse Walkers, American Saddlebred, Paso Fino have necks set higher and carried more upright. Just depends on riders preference. Thunder will go into a ground eating walk and a rocking gait with his head held high. Or if on the trail he will have his head down and a nice slow walk.

3) You need a long shanked bit.

Not so, A gaited horse does not need a special bit.Harsh bits and long shanks are bad trail bits for any horse. Pressure makes for an uncomfortable ride for horse and rider. A good gaited horse will work in a halter and a couple lead ropes and happily in all gaits on a slack rein. and they learn to neck rein easily and that makes any ride much easier.

4) You need a special saddle.

Not so, I f a saddle allows you to move with comfort you are good to go. It doesn't matter if it is a dressage, endurance, all-purpose, or trail if it fits the horse thats all that matters.

Special saddles designed for gated horses are marketing hype and are really designed for taking your money and little else. It's all about the shoulders and a good fit.

5)The saddle should set mid back.

Not so, this is more show ring bad habits like three wrinkles with the snaffel bit :~(
Gaited horses are just like other horses same bones and muscles. The spot where any horse os best able to carry a rider is just behind the withers 'bout a hand. Put it on and it will settle check from side to side and look for the deepest spot.

6) Your horse will need special shoeing.

Not so, whether you use metal shoes hoof boots, or go barefoot it has nothing to do with the breed but conformation. Remember no hoof no horse.

7) Gaited horses aren't sure footed.

Not so, this is another myth, hell even a double or triple myth. A good gaited horse will be a smooth-moving horse, not a high-stepping one, a good gaited horse will be very sure footed and will handle even rough trails in style. Do not buy into the notion that gaited horses are all eye-rolling, leg flinging, high stepping worthless consumers of hay. There are quite a few working ranches where they carry their riders over all sorts of various terrain very smoothly.

8) Purebred Quarter Horses don't gait.

Not so, many horses of "non gaited" breeds, such as Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Morgans, can walk, trot, canter and preform one or more "trail gaits." If your horse has an "extra gear" in the form of a comfortable trail gait, relax...enjoy... Don't worry, your horses papers are most likely his own...

9) Trotting ruins smooth gaits.

Not so, trotting is good for horses it's a natural gait and good for their backs, balance and muscles. Many gaited horses can perform many gaits and do them well, think of them as extra special horses with extra gears. It is perfectally possible for one horse to do a flatfoot walk, running walk, singlefoot, foxtrot, trot, and canter. Find out what your horse can do and do comfortabley and encourage him to use the ones that are most suiteable to your activities.

10) Gaited horses aren't true athletes.

Not so, Gaited horses can be great to watch in shows and parades, but those are only two of the many places you will find them, ranch work, police work, handicapped-riding, there are hard working gaited horses everywhere. They do well in competition, they are increasingly popular for such activities as competive trail riding and endurance riding. If you do a lot of trail riding, you have most likely admired a gaited horse without even realizing that they were gaited. Next time you "saddle up" ask each rider what breed their horse is you may be suprised... I get asked a lot about Thunder, The first question is always is that a Tennessee Walker? And I reply. Yes it is.
And the second is always is he a stud? And I reply, No but he still thinks he is, kinda like me...
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1 year ago
Star I agree with you on bits never met a snaffle I really liked, just put one around your forearm and squeeze slightly, I prefer a low port with sweet iron and some copper rollers or a war bridle. Alexander had thousands of horsemen aboard ships when they were visiting various parts of the world, when the men hit the beach armed with swords, spears, ect. not a single horse they were riding had a bridle all movement was controlled by knee action.
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4beat,

Your story sounds very familiar to me. your point about how they have been ridden would jive pretty well with the numerous gated horses I've worked with. The worst has been like you say raced down flat trails until brought to Montana. On the other hand I've seen Peruvian Pasos that were born and raised down in the mountains around Sun Valley, ID that are all like you say mountain goats.
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1 year ago
Thank you Star, and the snaffle I'm using does have a small flat section with a roller in the middle so it actually has 3 pieces, and seems less likely to create that "scissor" effect I've heard people complain about snaffles causing. It does allow me to use my pinky finger when he needs a little direct rein contact, and he is getting it, I was told by the previous owner that Tony just doesn't like "broken bits", but he seems to be OK with this one. I will work on getting him stepping up under me better and try to get him a little softer on the bit. I'm no horse trainer, but I am acutely aware that we are training them to do something, good or bad, anytime we handle them. Thanks for the help.
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trailgaiter,

This is a great community of horse people. We often forget this is a dating site. But...that is OK. Horses are so much a part of our hearts that it is difficult to separate the two. LOL!

As to the "dropping" yes, it could also be called hollowing as this is when the horse drops its back. This usually happens when the horse is not stepping under with its hocks and instead falls on the front end. I have found that gaited horses are not usually able to gait correctly when they do this...

When you practice this exercise you will find that your horse will be moving much slower than you are used to. The steps will seem higher at first as the horse learns to shift its weight back, and under your seat. It might take 6 months before the horse finds a way to be comfortable in its gaits. In the meantime your horse will "experiment" with its feet and make up all kinds of new gaits as it learns how to balance. The key is to let the horse make all those mistakes and let it know when it is doing the correct one.

As to saddles, those synthetic western saddles that are so low priced seem to fit many of the gaited horses. Not sure why, but they work well and most people can afford them. It also helps to get the western saddle with the round skirts behind that many of the Arabian/ Morgan horses use for the shorter backed horses.

As too bits, no need to be afraid of a little shank. For some reason many horseman believe that snaffles (with no shanks) are better for most horses. Many studies have been done on this and it has been proven over,and over again, that there has been more damage done to horses mouths with snaffles than any other bit. When used by someone with educated hands a little shank (I prefer the jointed snaffle center with a shank) it is often easier to teach a horse to release its neck and bring its nose down, which helps the horse pick up its back (when combined with the riders legs asking the horse to step up from behind). Most amateur riders do not have the skill to do this with a simple snaffle, ( let me repeat this again)keeping in mind that the rider keeps the horse soft on the rein by asking it to step up with its hind legs.... As a result, the bridle "seems" to bring the horse under our seats from the front, and the riders legs encourage the horses hind legs to step underneath its body to connect with the front. This is when the horse picks us up on its back and goes into self carriage. If you were a dressage rider it would take at least two years to achieve this on a consistent basis. It is the goal of second level...

If your horse is leaning on the bit... it is usually a result of the rider not keeping the horse in front of the leg aids, or the rider holding the reins too long. Once the horse releases its mouth, poll and neck to the pressure of the reins, the rider needs to let go of the pressure on the reins and keep the horse up there with their legs. That is when the horses body becomes loose and swingy. The horses ears often become floppy at that point. That is when a horse becomes more comfortable to ride, and easier to influence.

You will also feel this in the exercise I shared. Be patient with the process as it is one of those things that takes at least 1000 mistakes before the horse, and the rider, are able to make it a regular habit. Most riders seem to miss this part. (repeating again) That once the horse "lets go" and softens in the bridle, that they need to let the reins go so the pressure on the bit is no longer there. The horse stays soft as a result of the rider keeping its hind legs stepping up... The horse will fall apart in the usual 3 steps at first. But in time, will carry itself in self carriage with a very light or loose rein.

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Hi Montana,
I "had" a Walker that tripped a lot at a walk. She was 10 when I got her and I am unsure of where she was rode. I tried different shoeing and saddles. It didn't help. I have to add, where I live, I have rough, rocky and steep terrain for the first 45 mins of a ride and then it flattens out till you decide to come back down.
She had a very long stride. Her walk was actually uncomfortable to me. She was also on the lazy side. I worked on getting her to pick herself up and go more round. That did help but she was never sure footed. She was most comfortable in a running walk on the flats.

On the other hand, I have a little 14.2 hand walker in my barn that is like a mtn goat. She seldom makes a misstep. She was 3 and unbroke when I got her. I've rode several other walkers like her.
The walkers as a breed can handle rough terrain. I feel it is more a question of what they have been exposed to. If all they have ever done is fly down a flat trail in a running walk, they are gonna trip in the rocks.

I also have a Paso Fino who is sure footed. Saddle fit for him was a HUGE issue. He has very high and very wide whithers and a rising hip. After several saddles and alot of research I bought a Tucker and they altered the tree at no additional charge for his back. The dealer also fitted me to the saddle. I absolutely love it. My horse is happy too.

The gaited horses come with a whole new set of problems and pleasures. Some pace, some trot, some do an even four beat gait that is wonderful. And if your lucky, a rocking chair canter. The balance and experience of the rider also factor into the ride you get.
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1 year ago
Hi Montana, I so identify with the issues of cheap saddles, and applaud you for your efforts in assuring good fit for the gaiteds you are working with, I've seen way too many people (and trainers, even) who are way more concerned with how the saddle fits their own behind than with how it fits the horse, I'm sure you've heard the expression: "This saddle fits everything I've ever put it on!"
I don't have a big enough pocket book to go out and get the really nice gaited saddles, I know people who swear by Crates, and Buena Vistas, and I read that CircleY is now producing the 4-beat saddles for Brenda Imus because the Amish saddlemakers could no longer keep up with the demand. My old saddle was made by a local man who specializes in gaited saddles, but it was not hugely expensive, I think it was under 1K ten years ago, it needs restuffed this winter, in the meatime I gathered up 4 used saddles and took them out to a friend's tack shop, and ended up taking home a Buena Vista/Aussie style knockoff that was pretty inexpensive, and I was very skepticle as I put it on my gelding who is a notoriously tough fit, I was completely blown away by the difference in the way he moves, and had the best trailride of my entire life a few days later. It may not last ten or twenty years, but it works better than anything else I've ever tried on him, I just got really lucky. And yes, I agree that alot has to do with the balance of the rider, and also you mentioned more stumbling on a loose rein, I had a young Rocky Mountain Gaited mare that would get really pacey if I rode her on a loose rein, she never stumbled though, she was the most sure-footed horse I've ever been on. If I tightened the reins she would gait nice, but if I slackened them she would drop her back and get real hollow and pace instead of the four-beat amble. Anyway thanks and good luck!
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1 year ago
Hi Starhorse, thanks for the welcome, when you refer to the horse "dropping" you, is it the same feeling as what we refer to as going "hollow"? when the back goes hollow? I have experienced this mostly with horses that are pacey, my gelding I have now is more trotty than pacey. I recently got a new saddle for him, not because I felt the old one didn't fit, because I thought it fit him very well, but the new one has made a difference like night and day, I had decided that due to a bout of laminitis in '07 (prior owner allowed him to become extremely overweight, he is an easy keeper) and the resulting corrective shoeing he receives now (toes aquared off to facilitate faster breakover & less strain on tendon)I would be resigned to wave goodbye forever to the wonderful fast, smooth rack he used to perform when I 1st rode him in "04. I was stunned and thrilled at the difference in his gait when I rode him in the new saddle. The old one was also designed for gaiteds with the rigging being nearly straight below the pommel. Not a huge difference when you compare them, but the new one has more clearance through the gullet, and more rocker in the bars. In this case feeling is believing. I will try your exercises when I get a chance, I also need to work with him on being less resistant to the bit, when I ask him to back he braces and is resistant, I have light hands and would like to lighten him up, any suggestions? His former owner rode him for the last ten years (he is 18ish) with a plain standard curb bit, the cheap kind that come with bridles, I don't like it at all and am trying a shank snaffle. Thank you, Trailgaiter43
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Thank you Star, I will work with this in a focused manner. I am always asking for the soft feel and that balance that you describe, and when collected in their gait they usually do not have the problem as much. It's mainly in the walk when I let them free on a loose rein that the tripping occurs. And I'm speaking of very rocky trails. I will work with the poles as you suggest.

trailgaiter and Almost I have addressed these trimming and saddle issues as a first step. Ironically the two Walkers who have little problem have not been shod according to the recommendations for gaited horses, but in line with Star's comment these are horses that spend much of their year in the open range on 10K acres of rough country. The others that have the problem are boarded, spending time in stalls and small paddocks.

Yes, I have placed a great amount of attention on the saddle issue for gaited horses. This has been the basis for my earlier rant on saddles. The gaited horse saddles that I have seen out this way are generally very light weight affairs. I would appreciate any recommendations that you might have - money is not an issue, a good western saddle will be in the $3K range to start with, and they will last for generations. Most all of my clients have the same factory production models. I have been shocked at the instability of these saddles when hopping on the client's horse. And conversely, when I exchange them for mine the client is equally shocked at how stable mine is and how they feel so much more with the horse.

When we take our shopping trip down to the Saddle outlet we bring the horses along and try many different wades finding the particular build that matches each gaited horse according tho the specs that you are well aware of. Both myself and the client will ride the horse in the different choices until we find the one that seems to make the horse happiest. This may take several visits and many hours, and Cyd has an exchange policy as well.

And yes, the saddle makes a huge difference, but I have observed that it has most to do with the balance and comfort of the client riding in the new saddle.