North Carolina 13 year old TWH with some professional training, ridden in  and  plantation saddle in pasture and on dirt road by adult beginner.

 Question: There are a couple of problems, one leading into the other. First of all, my gelding would prefer to trot  rather than gait, but this is understandable since his previous owner wanted him to imitate a Quarter Horse. In order to get him to gait again, in the 2 years since I have owned him I have devoted much time to improving his  nutrition and growing out healthy hooves. 

Finally, his feet  have enough toe to look like a gaited horse. My farrier has  set the angles of the of the rear feet to break up the trot and there is 4" of toe on the front. My question is, since I had to relocate and leave my very competant farrier, how long should an ideal toe length be (no pads) for a Walking  Horse? So, besides making certain that the feet are properly trimmed, what else should I be doing to ensure a consistent gait. 

In addition, I would love to do some showing this summer, and will need to use a bit instead of the hackamore--and he frets to no end with a bit (no wolf  teeth). Any ideas? 

Thanks for your help. 

From Panelist Lukka

Regarding how to get the horse used to a bit.

First of all, be sure the horse has floated teeth and that the bridle fits. Take a very simple bridle with a plain snaffle bit, and put it on him, and leave it for half an hour.  Do it again the next day.  And every day untill he gets used to the bit.  When he starts getting used to the bit, offer him something to eat while carrying the bit.  My experience is that it does not get horses thinking about eating all the time, like many people say, on the other hand it teaches the horse how to handle the bit better (they have a hard time to begin with to get the hay past the bit).  The horse learns to accept the bit in a week or so.

Tie the horse up with a halter (put on top or under the bridle) and do something else, you don't have to be with the horse every minute, it needs time to get adjusted to the bit.  Also, when the horse is starting to be able to think about something else than the silly thing in it's mouth, do ground work or something where you don't need rein contact, to get him used to working with the bit in the mouth.

Happy trails.

From Panelist Laura

For a trotty type of horse, you will need to lose most of that nice long hoof you have worked so hard to grow.  Generally, for the hind feet, you leave the toe a little longer and have the angles a little lower than their natural angle (only a couple of degrees).  You want to put on a shoe with a little weight - a wide web keg shoe usually works well.  Be sure it is fit full and not set behind at the toe.

For the front feet, have nice short feet (set at the natural angle) with either no shoe or a light shoe such as aluminum.

This combination should help break up the trot without hurting your horse.  Do a lot of dog walking and work on a fairly high head set with light collection.

For your bit.  Since he doesn't have wolf teeth problems and we assume he has had his teeth floated so he is comfortable in the mouth, you might want to reaqquaint him with the bit by having him wear a snaffle while in his stall.  He will be ready to do something with it when he stops playing with it and trying to spit it out.  Do some ground work to get him used to giving to the bit and learning to turn and stop with it.  Keep your hands light and gentle to help him get used to the bit.  If he hates the snaffle, borrow different bits from your friends until you find one he likes.  Some horses really like to have a medium port bit so they don't have the tongue pressure.  Some horses feel more secure in a tom thumb type of bit.  Avoid harsh bits with thin or jagged mouth pieces.   

Now go ride, ride, ride.


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