|Arkansas 2 year old Paso Fino worked in snaffle
and western saddle in round pen.
Question: I have heard that you should not work a paso fino in a circle
in a round pen. (that it interferes with their natural gaits) I'd like
to know if this is true? This is my
From Panelist Lee
This is another one of those myths that have a grain of truth in them
that seem to abound in the gaited horse world. Think about it for
a moment ...
However, some round pen work is not ideal for gaited (or non-gaited)
horses. This is the sort of "work" that involves chasing the horse around
at top speed so he comes to your side as an escape for fatigue. A
young horse of any breed should be spared this, if only for the long term
soundness of his legs. If you are doing sensible round pen work,
at slow speeds, asking for slow turns, not roll backs, and frequent gradual
stops, you will not interfere with the horse's natural gaits. IMO,
light work on the longe line is more
From Panelist Erica
I find this to be incorrect. I think that a lot of misconceptions are
founded in many gaited breeds that they cannot do certain things as it
can/will ruin their gait. I find this to be incorrect. Paso when shown
are not usually required to do any sort of lateral work of any sort - just
to simply go straight ahead (turning at corners) and to show off their
Now addressing him not wanting to accept the bit - depends on how he
has been introduced in the past to a bridle/bit. With him being as young
as he is you will want to take extra special care not to overload him if
he is not yet mentally capable of handling it. Take it slowly and remember
not to ever start with the goal - this simply means that if you wish to
teach him to accept the bit, you don't want to start out with the bit/bridle
Get him comfortable with your hands especially around his mouth and
ears - these are key spots. You cannot have one without the other. Get
him to the point where he doesn't fuss at all when you rub his face and
ears. Give him head hugs if safe to do so. Then take a well fitting halter,
unbuckle the top. Rub that all over him and his face (gently). Get him
very used to it, hanging off one ear or both. Slip the halter on and off
without him pulling away. Take a headstall (without the bit) do the same
thing as you did with the halter. Get him used to your fingers in his mouth
for short times. Put the headstall on and get him comfy with the fingers
in the mouth (only 1 or two at most at a time). When he is good with this
he should be much better accepting the bit, knowing that you are willing
to take the time to help him through this will help to form the first of
your partnership bond. Another thing you could use to get him used to something
in his mouth, but without the chance of banging his teeth with a bit -
is use a soft and medium thickness rope in the place of a bit. However
don't ever use this in an area where you have to lead or move him around
using it, you never want to use this for anything but to get him accustomed
to the bit. Once it is in, he
From Panelist Stella
Lunging in a roundpen can be very beneficial to condition and prepare a horse for under saddle training; however, you do need a cautious, well-planned developmental strategy with any young horse to prevent injury to both hard and soft tissues that are not fully developed. The size of the pen and type footing also need to be taken in consideration.
While its best to keep circles large for young horses, it also tends to encourage many young Pasos to do a strung out, hollow-backed trot. You do not want to encourage this, as it only serves to develop muscles of the wrong frame. But, that doesnt mean you must not do any circular work; you simply avoid this movement.I prefer keeping young horses on a lunge line in the roundpen at least the first couple months, to insure I always have control at any given moment, not only to insure that the horse learns to understand and accept the consistency required in this aspect of the relationship, but also to control its speed and type of movement to prevent injury. I like limiting the movement to walking and gradually introducing a slow, easy relaxed canter, perhaps only 2-3 laps at a time, and building very gradually from there ( no galloping, racing, slide stops, rollbacks etc. that are more likely to occur roundpenning loose).
The movement of the canter -rounded back, impulsion from the rear, back legs under and driving always forward, utilizes and helps develop a frame and the musculature of the back and hindquarters most simular to that of gait as it relates to impulsion, and it is these areas most crucial to gaiting properly under saddle.
Since you said he tends to throw his head up, likely the muscles of his neck are more developed on the underside than the topline, and the canter will help develop the topline as well. This is important to prevent future stargazing and a hollow back in the future. If it remains the case, as often does on really high-headed horses, particularly young ones, avoid using a broken-mouthed bit, and use a mullen mouth or similar solid mouthpiece, even if you choose a snaffle.
Normally, Pasos are started in a leather bitless bosal with 2 reins, which provides surprisingly good control. Only after the horse is proficient in the rudiments of gait, collection, etc. is the bit introduced, initially over top of the bosal, to which one of the reins is attached, and the transition to only a bit is made gradually. However, being rider confidence is just as important, you can start this earlier, but it is still best to work mostly off the bosal until the horse is secure in its balance and gait. You can even get the horse used to just wearing a bit early, and go back to it later when ready to use it.
My favorite "starter" is a "rubber jetera"($15.), which ressembles a
small "O" bar snaffle with bitguards, but the mouthpiece is simply cotton
rope covered with soft,pliable surgical tubing(5/8-3/4"width). They seem
to accept this much more readily, and do better later on a real bit.Start
"traditionally" getting the horse first acquainted with a bit (or rubber
jetera) for a few days in the stall, and here it is very important to adjust
the bit correctly in its mouth not to be able to get its tongue over it,
yet not too tight. If you feel the conformation of the horse's lips and
tongue are such that it could anyway, you can use a strip of soft cloth
or rope to GENTLY tie from one ring to the other under the chin, without
pressure to the tongue but just enough not to be able to raise the bit
& slide the tongue over it. Do this several days, removing when you
see the horse has stopped playing and has a quiet mouth. Eventually, the
horse will settle on the bit in a matter of a moment, and when he's accepted
it and its no longer an issue, it can be used when under saddle.
This way, the horse can remain focused on you and the other aspects of
undersaddle lessons, and
From Panelist Terry
Circles will not hurt his gait all your ground work will teach him to bend, give his shoulder, work on a loose line, and give to pressure. This will improve his gait, but one word of caution don't be in a rush to collect him if he does not gait that's fine let him relax and learn what you are asking of him.
Once he is supple and is lite on the lounge line or reins he will be ready to start to collect and you should get good gait. As far as throwing his head to get away form the head gear I would give it a bit of time let him build some confidence in the head gear and that problem should solve it self.