Minnesota 3 1/2 year old Foxtrotter with Professional Training, ridden in a variety of bits /wonder bit in wintec western/tucker endurance in pasture/road/trail by beginner.

Question: I have two specific problems with this young horse.
1. He occasionally takes off galloping and bucking. He has successfully bucked the rider off twice. Yesterday I had the ride of my life. I don't know how I stayed on. Once he stopped, he put his head way down and let out a cough that sounded like a moan. This is brand new and I may have to have a vet look at him, but the bucking he's done before. We've already had one broken bone from him and do not want any more.

2. He can foxtrot, but he most frequently paces. His pace is incredibly rough and certainly not what I wanted when I bought a gaited horse. I would like to sell this lemon as we are all afraid of him. How can I improve his gait to make him more attractive to a potential buyer?

Thanks for any help,

From Panelist Jonathan

My recommendation to your first question is , stop riding him before you ruin him .

To your second , even when making lemonade some technique is required . But , obviously no one at your facility is schooled for the job at hand .

I'm kind of a do it myself guy and really like getting folks started on solving their own problems . But this will be my third recommendation this month to seek a qualified trainer . Now the key word here is 'qualified' . Four months is more than enough time to put brakes on and screw down the pace to a smooth gait . As usual , my impression is that the 
problem is not with the horse .

And before you get up a head of steam up to sell the lemon , think about this . Unless you ready to cut your losses and dump him , it is going to take the same amount of money put into training this guy right , whether you keep him or sell him . The only catch is , when you are through making him a good boy , you will know without a doubt what you have. 
Something you as a "beginner" will not have with your next potential purchase 

Also , more than likely you will need to sell low (the next step in this learning process). Buy high (the second step) because of your newly acquired knowledge and tastes . Not fun ! Always remember the least amount of financial expenditure in regards to owning a horse is the purchase price , so you may as well start off with a horse that does what you require.

And then there is always the possibility that the new buyer is more than likely a "beginner" and if the money is not spent to lock the horse in , the same old problem will raise it's ugly head . Now , Yes , I know in this industry sometimes shipping problems down the road is quid pro quo , and more than likely what happened to you , but some where down the 
line , we as responsible horse folks have to bite the bullet and end the cycle .

Again , my advise is spend the money , get a "qualified" trainer , see what you have when he is finished and go from there . Sorry to hear of this , for you and the horse .


From Panelist Nancy


Sounds like your horse is just plain "not broke."  He would require a lot of training to change his gait, especially with his very bad habits of running off and bucking.  I'm sure, by now, he knows very well what he is doing.  I hate to say this, but my advice to you would be to sell this horse "as is."  And I also would advise you to be sure and tell any prospective buyer of this horse's actions.  If you sell him like this, I'm sure you would have to take a big loss financially, but the sooner you get rid of him, the better.  You don't want any more broken bones and the next time someone gets thrown, it might be worse.  Sorry about this advice.

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Darla

Send him to a trainer again but make sure you get someone that knows GAITED horses.  He needs his ground work before he is ridden.   No horse has brakes under saddle until he is schooled to know what brakes are.  Now he has thrown two people so he has a little problem there.  He needs someone that knows how to deal with this problem. 


From Panelist Bob

I believe that most of your problem is coming from the "wonder" bit. These are a very severe elevator (gag) type of bit. In addition they can be used as a broken mouth curb bit with the "nut cracker" effect.

Assuming that there are no dental or physical problems I would begin retraining your horse with a D ring or full cheek snaffle. Work him slowly at a walk until you can keep him in a rounded frame before asking for more speed. The fox trot is not a fast gait. Many times a fox trotter starts pacing because it is being asked for too much speed too soon.

Bob Blackwell 

From Panelist Liz

 Yes I think getting a vet out to check this horse would be a good thing and check for any thing in the back that could be soar or out of alignment as well. Once this is done I would go back and start this horse over like he was never trained . Get a good sound ground work base started first.

Improving gait for this horse since he you know he will fox trot is really in your hands. This is a young horse and it can take several years to get him set in gait so he knows how to carry it himself with out rider support and this will only come from knowing how to support
him and teach him proper collection during this period. I have found a wonder bit is not a good one for a fox trotter. It is a rather sloppy bit and give no support in the mouth. I have found fox trotters do better in something like a french link mouth piece or a billy allen
mouth piece bit. This horse being young yet not having a lot of time under saddle should probably still be in a snaffle bit. His going to the pace is from being allowed to carry himself Ventroflexed (hollow backed) a fox trot is more to a level or round back. So he should be taught how to carry him self in this sort of frame instead of nosed out and going hollow backed.


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