Posted by: ivyschex | October 29, 2012

5 Myths about Gaited Horses

5 Myths about Gaited Horses

Myth 1:  Gaited horses just gait on their own.

This is true and not true.  Gaited horses do have the ability to gait; that part is natural.  However, they are not born just gaiting smoothly.  Many gaited horses pace, trot, or do something in between that is not as smooth as we would want.  To get that perfectly even, smooth gaits takes time and training.

Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse showing signs of TRUE collection


Myth 2:  You need a shanked bit or a “gaited horse bit” to get them to gait.

I have trained numerous gaited horses, all different breeds, to gait with a plain snaffle or with just a hackamore.  The key is to train them to gait, not play at forcing them into a particular head set.

Myth 3:  Gaited horses need their noses tucked in or “collected” to gait.

Once a horse learns the correct way to gait (meaning the correct footfall), many of them like their head level with their withers and their nose slightly out.  They travel with a long, level gait that is super comfortable because the horse is relaxed.  Horses do not need the reins held tightly once they have learned to gait naturally on a loose rein.

Tennessee Walking Horse Gaiting on a true Loose Rein

Myth 4:  You need to know the name your horse’s gait.

Names do not mean anything to the horse or your backside if it is not smooth!  You should focus on getting a gait that is smooth and easy to sit, at both a slow speed and a medium speed.  Many of the breeds do the exact same gait, but they call them different names.  Use your judgment and decide what your priority is.

Myth 5:  You can never canter your gaited horse.

I am asked this one a lot.  I always make sure the gaited horses I work with are comfortable cantering a little.  However, I never ask for the canter from the gait, always from the walk.  Gaited horses should be able to gait quickly without breaking to the canter.  If we are always asking for the canter from the gait, they will not learn to gait quickly, but will rather break to the canter.

If you have any questions about gaited horses or gaited horse training, feel free to comment below.

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  1. Why do so many show people abuse their horses with chains, soring and stacks. It should be a crime. Gaited horses are so beautiful. That “big lick” just does not look natural to me….. jmho

    • Tina, it is sad. What I explain to people is that trainers and riders often use these “tools” in place of proper training. It is a shortcut of sorts, but with the end result of a the misery you see in many gaited horses.

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