|Wisconsin 6 year old TWH, would like
to try bitless bridle ridden in Ortho-Flex and round pen, horse trails
near by Advanced beginner
Question: Last fall I bought a 6 year old TWH gelding. His story is
that he was raised on the TWH farm where he was born until age 2, sent
to a trainer and came back so spooky
I've never seen this horse gait. He only trots. If he only trots now does that mean it will be harder to teach him to gait under saddle than if he were younger? I haven't started him under saddle yet as he still gets scared when things, especially ropes, touch hind quarters but we're working on that. When I do start him under saddle this spring, what kind of conditioning schedule should he be on?
I'd imagine he should be encouraged to walk a lot and not allowed to
trot for more than short stretches. I know of one gal who trains her own
TWHs that encourages the walk but if her green horses go into a trot, rather
than bring them back down to a walk, she pushes them into a canter. She
said the canter is more work for them so they learn not to break into a
trot in the first place. Would this be a feasible way to encourage the
walk at least until the 'walk muscles' are built up and you're ready to
ask for speed? Also, do you
I own another TWH that gaits better in a halter than in a bit but I'm not sure that starting a green broke TWH in the bitless bridle would be a good idea.
From Panelist Liz
It certainly sounds like you have done some good ground work already, too find that he does have some nice calm qualities.
Having a round pen to work in is a wonderful tool to keep him focused
and giving him a place of security to work in. Work for as long of time
as you need to build his trust in you and being he has had a spooky past
. Good quiet calm sessions to start are good. Use lots of verbal and a
soft reassuring hands too build on the trust . Take all
the time you need to get him over being scared of ropes and the sensitive
to touch areas. Work on this daily if at all possible, for short sessions
working towards the sensitive areas a inch at a time if
In regards to not have seeing this horse gait, just trot. I would
avoid the trot when working with him. I would not push to the canter, sometimes
they find it easier to pick up a canter than do the work it takes to develop
a gait. Keep working at the walk, teaching him
I am not familiar with the bitless bridle featured on the web site listed.
I do use sidepulls often when starting TWH's and developing gait with a
lot of success. Very important first is that they know the meaning of the
word whoa when given from the ground first, along with
A good conditioning program undersaddle is lots of walking at
different speeds, starting with short 15-30 minute sessions, 5-6 days a
week for 2 weeks and build time on this to this over a period of
another 4 weeks adding some flexing and bending exercises at the
From Panelists Bob
I would much rather see a horse trot at liberty than pace. Many gaited horses trot in the pasture and go right into gaiting when they are started under saddle. I ride mine the first few rides in the round pen with a lariat loop around their neck. I next use a halter with a lead rope snapped to the rings on either side. I get them turning with both direct and indirect rein pressure before I ever put a bit in their mouth.
I ride a beginning horse in the round pen with a halter until I have them stopping, starting, and turning in both directions. This usually takes 4-6 rides. I then begin using a snaffle bit, either a D ring or a full cheek. When they are working as well in the bit as the halter I then take them out and ride in the pasture or in our ring. I walk them only for the first several rides, getting them used to the feel of a rider and the change in their center of balance.
When I am ready to ask for more speed I make light contact with the
bit and squeeze
From Panelists Carol
Sounds like you are doing a good job with your horse, friendly-ing him.
I would continue to work on this until he is completely comfortable with
things touching his hind quarters. Don't worry about him trotting
on a longe, in the round pen, or in the pasture. Lots of horses do
this that gait very nicely under saddle. Your first few rides should
be at the walk, and you may find that when you are ready to ask for a faster
speed, that a nice gait is there. If not, please resubmit your question
at that time and we'll talk about some gait corrections.
Good luck and keep up the good work!
Carol Camp Tosh
From Panelist Jonathan
First of all I would like to address the last part of your question , first . I am a firm believer in mechanical hackamore/bitless riding . I have used them exclusively for many years , from high desert gliding to mountain crunching , on my stallions , mares and from green to seasoned and love them . That is until I got on my last stallion started , but that's another question . I went to the site you referred to , and to say the least I surely was impressed , in fact if that gadget does half of what is claimed I'm gonna have to acquire a couple of dozen and send them out as Christmas presents ;) . Other than that , never saw one , never used one , so I can't comment .
As to whether or not your boy will be harder to train out of the trot and into gait is impossible for me to answer without seeing him move in the flesh ! Now there is quit a list of techniques to enhance a poor gait , but my feeling is , for a horse that you have never seen in gait , only a personal eyes on visit could result in a possible evaluation .
Now of course there are those in the business that can make a donkey do a waltz on a dime and give you a nickels change ;) . But how far from his genetic predisposition do you want to travel ? I know some fellows that will chop toes , build heels and calk the feet right into the next Big Lick event and promise you a blue ribbon , if your so inclined ;)! But all your gonna have is a manufactured horse of gait . What you may have here is a classic example of a horse you may be better off just excepting him for what he is and building up his honest potential traits .
Now to get on to more pleasant topics . As to a exercise program , i
am a firm believer that working all muscle groups is imperative in producing
a healthy , sound and useable horse . You have the great fortune to be
starting a animal when plate growth is at a minimum . This is a large plus
as far as rounding out his program with more difficult terrain
Just remember to keep in the back of your mind that sometimes they can't be fixed when they brake .
Wish I had more for you , but I don't . Good luck with him .
From Panelsit Steve
1. Trotting: If a Walker only trots while in the pasture or lunge line, don't worry too much. Often these are the finest Walkers under saddle. I'd prefer to hear that this horse paces a little and walks a little (runningwalk) as well, not because these gaits indicate a superior animal necessarily, but rather that the horse is indeed a Walker. In this day and age, most Walkers are on the too pacey side rather than too trotty. If all the horse does is a trot, and you are SURE that is all he is doing, then this has me a little intrigued.
2. Conditioning Schedule. Excellent that you asked ! He is not a youngster
physically but you still need to go slow at first. Lots of round pen riding
to get your confidence up as well as lots short trail rides with slow moving
buddies so the horse learns to enjoy his work. Round pen alone is not good
for any horse. I wouldn't go over 15 minutes of riding in a round pen,
ever ! I wouldn't go over an 2 hours on a trail until he has done
well for 2
3. Gait training under saddle. In general, your friend is exactly correct in her prescription, especially in the young horse. The young horse must be taught to move forward freely and to learn to slow down on his own via TRAINING not bitting. Often this means the horse will go too fast and do all sorts of jiggle gaits. It is better to let him experiment with himself than crank him in the mouth to go slower. All you are going to do is teach him to dink walk, especially if he is trotty. So by all means let him move forward and try to discourage the bad gaits by a bump in the mouth, coinciding with some hard seat riding (don't make it comfortable for him) and some growling (not shouting) indicating you aren't pleased. that is all the negative pressure you need. Ideally, you can push him into a pace before the rack or hand gallop...but that is another subject
Incidentally, a round pen is a great place to get a horse stretchy i.e. swingy or pacey (switch both ways of the ring and DON'T over do round pen work. It is hard on a horse). Also, you will want to ride this horse downhill as much as possible to try and get him to pace or at least swing. Otherwise, you will want to build gait in a trotty horse starting with the flat walk on firm flat ground and slowly building speed.
4. Bitless Bridle: Yes. I have experience with these in Walkers and
consider them to be ideal, especially for Walkers. (please note that these
BB's can exert pressure while a web halter has almost none. I don't consider
web halter riding to be a very good idea except in the best horses and
in those, I'd just a soon use a neck ring) I think it would be interesting
to start a horse in a BB but have never done so. I think it would probably
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