|TWH only Paces!
Kentucky 7 yrs TWH gelding ridden in standard walking horse bit and
western saddle, by good rider on long stretch of dirt road and pasture.
Question: Token is a 7 year old paint walking gelding out of a registerd
mare and stallion. His problem : He will only pace. We
have tried different bits and I have recieved so many "suggestions" on
how to shoe him that I have just kept him flat shod. He is only used
for trail riding so pads are out.I wouldn't mind if his pace was smooth
but it's just like riding a trotting horse.Any suggestions would be helpful.
From Panelists Darla
It sounds like your horse needs some work on the following:
First of all make sure his feet ARE done correctly. With a horse
that is pacing his back feet should be left with his heels high and his
toes off. This will help him turn over faster and smoother.
His front feet should be natural as possible with his angles done correctly
according to his shoulder. It is also important to make sure his
teeth are in good shape and wolf teeth removed by your vet. Check
your curb chain to make sure it is not too tight. I like to get four
fingers through it on a young horse and two fingers on a
Lee Zigler has an article for
curing the Pace that is really good and helped me with a very pacey
horse. Ride a while and get your horse warmed up and do a lot of
stopping a backing. Backing should be easy for him and he should
back collected and continuous for you. When he is warmed up (Sweaty)
go to a gradual incline in the road (preferably). Start on the flat
and ask him to walk at a brisk step. When he starts up the hill lift
a little on the bit by lifting on the reins (I use two hands for training
in this case) just enough
to see his head raise slightly (not enough to make him resent it) at
the same time squeeze with your legs (from your hips to your calves) This
should encourage him to start gaiting. If he has a gait you will
feel it get smooth and hear the hooves make a four beat sound on the road.
I may only last for a few steps so if he starts to pace of trot slow him
down to a walk and start out again with the same sequence. If he
stays in the smooth gait just hold
him there and keep encouraging him with your legs (if he starts to
slow down) and make sure you praise him too.When you reach the top of the
incline he might start pacing again so slow down and go back to the incline
for another go at the gait. As you go down
the incline hold his head up slightly just like you did on the upside
of the hill and ask him to take short smooth steps. He is probably
going to want to take big pacey steps going down the hill. A lot of backing
helps so do not forget to stay calm and back him whenever you stop and
before you start out again. Calmness is very important and try to
keep your mind set on him being smooth and gaiting. If you expect
it and visualize it put together with doing the exercises I have given
you. You have a good chance of bringing him to his smooth gait. this
process takes a lot of time and patience on an older horse. I just
finished a very pacey 8 year old TWH. He is gaiting really nicely
now but it took 60 days of patience, encouragement and hard work.
Also please read the article I mentioned earlier.
Happy Trails and smooth rides, Darla
From Panelists Laura
Here's one more shoeing suggestion - If it isn't too rocky where you
ride, have your farrier leave the back feet bare (no shoes) and put a wide
web keg shoe on the front feet. If the hoof wall wears too short
or the horse gets ouchy at all in the back feet, your farrier can put regular
width keg shoes on the back feet. Have your farrier put the horse's
angles about 1-2 degrees steeper than the natural pastern angle of your
horse. The shoeing is to just help your horse gait a little better,
NOT force him into gait.
Now, you need to teach your horse the correct gait. It will help
a lot to use the natural environment to help break up that pace.
Slow down and dog walk when going down hill. Speed up slightly when
going up hill. Don't allow your horse to canter or gallop going up
hill, make him speed up his walk. The hill will help break up the
pace. Use one of your many bits to help raise his head and collect
him when going up hill.
Whenever there are tall weeds, plowed fields, or rough ground of any
sort, ride your horse through this instead of taking the easy path.
Speed him up just out of a dog walk and don't let him canter at all.
The weeds and rough ground causes your horse to pick his feet up more and
helps break up that pace. Don't overdue the plowed field work - it's
hard on his legs if you go too long or too fast.
Whenever your horse feels smooth (even if it's just a few steps) praise
him loudly. When he feels rough and bouncy, use a discouraged tone
with him. It will take quite a while for you to teach him to give
you a smoother gait, so have some patience. He has been pacing for
quite a while so you are not going to correct this overnight. If
your horse is smooth for a while and then gets bouncy, don't slow him down.
Tell him "this is too rough" and
speed him up a little so he doesn't get rewarded (slowing down
or stopping is considered a reward by most horses) for pacing. Whenever
you are on a smooth path and he gets bouncy, ride him down into a ditch
until he smooths out or turn him side to side in a serpentine type of movement
until he smooths out.
Be patient. He's been pacing for seven years and it may take
quite a while to correct this. If you don't see any difference at
all after riding him in rougher ground after a couple of months, you should
probably look for a good trainer to teach him to gait.