Non-USA, 3 year old TWH I raised from birth wrking in PNH hackamore, going to snaffle soon in equitation endurance - Tucker, or bareback. worked in corrals, rings, pasture, trails, obstacle course, pond by intermediate rider.

Question: 
I have 5 walkers, just started my 3 yr old in bit & want to work on gait training.  I had planned to start her in a full cheek snaffle or eggbutt. She has been ridden in PNH
hackamore successfully for the last year, since her training began. Now I want to concentrate on her runwalk, getting her out of her strong pace. 

She is easy going, very willing and vmoves out nicely.  What would you suggest for exercizes and  bitting.  I prefer not to use a shank bit, but want your opinion on getting a walker moving into the bit & runwalk only using snaffle.
Thanks , Barb In Canada



From Panelist Lee

Exercises:  First,  teach her down and forward, in the full cheek or egg
butt snaffle.  Teach this so that she reaches into the bit, taking contact
(not you taking it for her, but her stretching down into the bit as you ask
her to lower her head and push her from behind.) (see "Cure that Pace" for
how, if you have not already seen it!)

 Second, when she has mastered down and forward, teach her to come back up
with her head and neck, staying in light contact on the bit, (the weight of
a plum in each hand, even and consistent)  flexing a little at the poll.  To
overcome the use of her body that is causing the pace, she needs these two
aspects of the same exercise to stretch out the muscles from poll to tail,
and to then bring her body together in semi-collection.  Obviously, do this
at an ordinary walk, no faster! It takes time for her to develop the ability
to carry contact evenly, you will feel as if you are nurturing a small flame
in a wind storm at first, because she will either want to take too much
contact or none at all. Eventually it will come as an even, light, tension
on the reins, that she initiates. Your job is just to keep your hands still
and quiet.

Third: teach her to bend laterally -- practice riding her into curves (the
corner of an arena works well) and in large circles. Again at an ordinary
walk. Later you may want to teach haunches-in, shoulder-in, but these are
not needed at this stage.

Forth: teach her to stop, back, and go forward in one fluid motion (this is
not easy).  This will help bring her back up, rounding her frame, teach her
to be light on the bit, and also instantly responsive to whatever cue you
give her.  It also takes time, do it only once or twice a lesson.

All of these things are best done in a snaffle.   I prefer to do most gait
training on horses that have a pace problem in a snaffle because the
exercises do not work in a curb, although I do ride a lot in a Pelham
because often I have had to work with horses that need to be reclaimed from
previous training and have dull mouths that do not respond at first to
snaffle pressure.  IMO, with horses that have not had  unfortunate training
in a curb, there is no problem with staying in a snaffle forever, if the
horse is responding well to the bit, because it allows you to return to
these exercises  whenever you feel they need to be repeated. They lay the
foundation for a good square flat walk and running walk, by helping the
horse improve her overall carriage.   Hoever, later when her body has been
conditioned to stop pacing, you can change to a curb if you want to for ease
of one handed riding. I do that, too, although I rarely ride a horse in the
curb alone.  Meanwhile, practice, practice, practice in the snaffle to build
the horse's body through these exercises.

When your horse can do all of these exercises in an ordinary walk, begin to
ask for a flat walk.  Start work at an ordinary walk,  with her head
somewhat low,  poll only a little above withers, and gradually push her for
speed in the walk (squeeze/release with legs) while alternating with light
vibrations on the reins to keep her head down and asking her to flex at the
jaw.  Speed her walk until she can go consistently at about 5-6 mph without
breaking into a pace. (this again is going to take TIME!) The old timers
said to flat walk for 3 months before you tried a running walk -- I tend to
agree with them.  Build on the foundation of a solid flat walk,  especially
in a pacey horse, and you are more likely to get a solid running walk.

If you have any more questions, you can contact me privately

Lee Ziegler

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