Colorado 4 year old Fox Trotter with Professional Training starting over in ring snaffle and western saddle. Ridden in round pen and open fields by experienced rider.

Question: This is not necessarily a problem, but in a way it  is not in the best interest of the horse to be this way for control reasons.

My question:

Is it standard practice for gaited horse trainers to not supple and flex the horse so as to have control over all his parts, i.e. head and neck, shoulders, rib area, hips or hind
quarters?  And if yes, why?

My horse came away from the trainers stiff as a board and therefore pacey.  Also there was that lack of control factor. If he got into a panic situation it was near impossible to double him around. Also because he was put into a long shank curb bit, as a very green horse, and was frighten of it and of being ridden in it, he was starting to react by trying to get away from the pain of the bit and so started bucking and/or rearing.

When he started that I took him home. 

I am starting him over using the Pat Parelli Nature Method. First off, he didn't even know the basic's of following his nose or to move away from pressure applied to his rib area.
You would have never guessed that he had just had 9 months of training.  After only a few minutes of showing him I was not out to kill and eat him for dinner you could see his
head come down and his eye soften.



From Panelists Lee
Answers to your questions:

Is it standard practice for gaited horse trainers to not supple and flex the horse so as to have control over all his parts, i.e. head and neck, shoulders, rib area, hips or hind quarters?  And if yes, why?

Sadly, yes, in many cases.   Because many of them do not know how to do this, and see the only goal for riding the horse as being to go in the gaits desired.  Suppleness doesn't matter if you are not interested in riding the horse in anything but straight lines or a large ring.

My horse came away from the trainers stiff as a board and therefore pacey.  

Sad, but not unusual, either.

Also there was that lack of control factor. If he got into a panic situation it was near
impossible to double him around. 

Another problem. Many gaited horses are so even nattered that they don't need much in the way of "control" so are not taught to double.  IMO, this is a mistake.

Also because he was put into a long shank curb bit, as a very green horse, and was
frighten of it and of being ridden in it, he was starting to react by trying to get away from the pain of the bit and so started bucking and/or rearing. 

Not unusual either, in the gaited horse world, where the general belief is that the horse won't gait if he is not in a curb.  If you were trying to double him in a curb, there would have been some very unpleasant unanticipated consequences, bucking and rearing being among them.

When he started that I took him home

Good plan!

I am starting him over using the Pat Parelli Nature Method. 
.
You may have some success using this method, but a few things about Fox Trotters need to be taken into account. First, many of them have mouths that do not take kindly to ring snaffles ... they are happier in unbroken bits. You can use mullen snaffles, limited motion "Billy Allen" snaffles and even Kimberwickes with the chains removed with better (happier horse) results than you can a Parelli ring snaffle.  They are also often unlikely to gait well in a rope halter, because they need some help to position their heads and necks in gait that the halter does not offer.

Second, rope reins with slobber straps can and do cause confusion in a gaited horse that nods his head with his gait, as does a Fox Trotter.  The horse may be happier in simple leather latigo reins than the usual Parelli gear.

First off, he didn't even know the basic's of following his nose or to move away from pressure applied to his rib area.

Many horses do not know this, not just gaited ones ... if you don't teach them, they don't learn it.  Again, this sort of training is not the norm among  many gaited horse trainers.

You would have never guessed that he had just had 9 months of training. 

yes, I would -- because there is "training" and then there is working with the horse -- big difference.

After only a few minutes of showing him I was not out to kill and eat him for dinner you could see his head come down and his eye soften.

That is not unusual, either.  Where are you in Colorado?  Contact me off the forum and I may be able to offer some suggestions.

Good luck on your retraining program ..

Lee Ziegler



From Panelists Nancy

Answer:  You ask if it is standard practice for gaited horse trainers to not supple their horses.  This lack of teaching the horse anything seems to be common practice in all the breeds, not just the gaited breeds.  Many "trainers??" seem to think that you just get on and start riding and pulling and kicking them around and that is training.  The poor horse pays the penalty.  Probably many of the horses that end up at the killers are there because of this type of treatment.  I'm glad you have your horse home with you now.

Nancy Cade



From Panelists Carol

Hi, I just had to reply to your inquiry.  I am a professional trainer with over 30 years experience.  I was introduced to the parelli program about 5 years ago, and for me it was a great breakthrough.  I am totally sold on the benefits of pnh for gaited horses.  Unfortunately, most gaited horse trainers still train horses in the manner you describe.  Congratulations .for getting on what I feel like is the right track. 

Carol Camp Tosh 

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