Colorado 15 year old Missouri Fox Trotter ridden in Smooth snaffle and English Hunter saddle by riders from Intermed-Advanced

Question: I have Morgans and obtained this horse.  I do not know the cues for the different gaits.  I would like to start him again.  I have lunged him and can get a walk,
pace, canter, but I do not know how to get the trot or the rack.  If I know the cues then I can see what he knows.  He is stubborn and had dumped a child.  I think he will be 
great but needs some work before I can put his 10 yr old green rider/owner back on him.

From Panelist Lee

First the good news --he is gaited.  Now the bad news, if he does not trot
on the longe line (in a large circle) and instead paces, he is not going to
be easy to get into a fox trot. Forget the rack, that is not a gait most Fox
Trotters perform and there is no real reason to try to cue him for it.  The
problem is not your cues, the problem is his body use that is making him not
do a fox trot or hard trot as his intemediate gait.

As for cues -- it depends on what he was taught.  There are no standard cues
for the fox trot.  One that is sometimes used in MO is to poke the horse on
the withers on one side with your finger -- sometimes this works.  More
often it does not. It certainly does not work on horses that are very pacey
and there is no way you can apply it on the longe.

To ride him, put him in something besides a forward seat saddle -- a
dressage saddle if you have one, even a western saddle, will put you in a
better position to develop his gaits.  The snaffle is fine, if he is
accepting it.  If not, you might want to try a Kimberwicke, no slots.  You
first goal with this horse, IMO, would be to establish a good flat walk -- a
fast reaching ordinary walk, not the same walk you are familiar with in
Morgans.  (about 5-6mph walk is what you are aiming for).  That is how you
can get rid of the pace and then advance to a fox trot.  Ask him to lower
his head and neck, work into the bit, and then go forward on contact, with
the lower head.  See "Cure that Pace" for details.

At the same time, you need to teach this horse to hard trot -- at least on
the longe.  Start  with two low cavalletiis --- one at 12 one at 6 on the
circle.  Set them about middle height, 8 inches or so.  Ask him to work over
them on the longe, in a large circle with *NO* sidereins, using either the
snaffle or a longeing cavesson.   He will hit his legs a bunch of times, but
will eventually start to trot a couple of steps over them (and probably go
back to a pace in between). Ask him to move with his head lowered by making
light downward vibrations on the longe line.  Add a couple of low
cavallettis at 3 and 9, so that he has little space to pace between the
poles. Alternately, you can set up a row of 4 cavallettis in a straight line
and work him over them on the longe.

As you are working on the flat walk, under saddle, walk him over poles
scattered in various places around the arena.  Two grouped together (at
least 5 feet apart) in one place, 3 in another,  a single one somewhere
else.  Keep his head and neck lowered, and his speed above an ordinary walk
as you ride over these poles.  Find the locations where the arena is a
slight uphill grade and ask him for more speed there, still keeping his head
low and his contact even with the bit, allowing his nose to come in a bit
toward vertical.  Practice, practice practice, until he will move
consistently in an even flat walk when you ask him to speed out of an
ordinary walk (same cues as any horse, squeeze with legs to ask for more

When the flat walk is established and he has started hard trotting well on
the longe, ask him to speed up in the flat walk, still keeping his head and
neck low, taking a little stronger contact on the bit.  He should break into
a slow fox trot.  From there, it is only a case of building his speed and
keeping him from pacing.

Good luck.

Lee Ziegler


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