Kansas 23 month old Missouri Foxtrotter ridden in snaffle and western youth saddle in round pen, indoor arena, outdoor arena, trails by rider experienced with riding a lot of walking horse colts.

Question: About two weeks ago, I started breaking this Foxtrotter colt.  He has a pretty level-headed temperament, but had been handled a little too much.  He wants to nibble
on you and walk on top of you.  Those two traits I can break him of, but I'm not so sure about his trotting.  I've only ridden walking horse colts in the past, and they paced when
I got on them and encouraged them out of a walk.  I can feel this colt start to gait, but then he tosses his head and starts trotting.  I've started him on a D-ring snaffle and he's turning well, but the reason I liked gaited horses so much is that they don't trot!  I've seesawed him a little in the mouth, but then he thinks that I'm asking him to slow down.  Any comments or encouragement will really help.  I've not ridden a mature foxtrotter, but I'm assuming it's something akin to a rack.  I have seen this colt gait, but not in the last two weeks.  I have two Walking horses, and they sometimes trot in the paddock, but not when someone is riding them. 

From Panelist Erica

If he is trotting under saddle, I would continue working him with very light stuff for now. He is very young and may not fully understand all of the cues that an older horse would when first started. Once he is comfortable with a rider, he may relax enough to move into a foxtrot without work from you. If he is just trotting loose in the pasture, but not under saddle then I would find no reason for concern as of yet.

Erica Frei

From Panelist Liz


IMO I think this colt is to young to be ridden. At 23 months he has not finished growing in his skeletal system and still has a couple of years yet to do this. 

Also he is not old enough to have fully filled out and developed is muscular structure to support the skeletal. Riding one this young can be very stressful and may cause physical problems that could become permanent. Being so immature in his development and asking for him to work carrying rider can certainly take the fox trot right out of him and go to the trot because it is easier to carry the weight of tack and rider.

The fox trot is a gait that is nothing like a rack. The fox trot is a diagonal gait in that the diagonal hoofs lift off the ground and move forward together but set down with the front foot just before the hind. The fox trot is also a gait where the back of the horse in more
to the rounded where the rack is a hollow carriage in the back. The pace is even more hollow than the rack. The running walk is more to a level carriage in the back. The rack is a lateral gait in that the legs on the same side lift off the ground together but set down

Since this colt did fox trot it sounds to me like he is just not strong enough to hold the gait and you may want to get some help in understanding the different frame a fox trotter should carry it's self compared to other gaits.

 See sawing this colts mouth will just create confusion and not help him to achieve his gait.
Also not all walkers pace under saddle many can do the trot too . I have found the ones that are dominate to trot are actually easier to square up into a running walk. It is not uncommon to see a dominate to trot walker or fox trotter go to the pace because the rider is asking the horse to carry it's self in a hollow backed , up headed frame.

I recommend putting this colt out to grow up and mature and find a fox totter person help you learn about the gait and how to develop it when he is ready.


From Panelist Laura

Since you have only been working this colt a couple of weeks, it is a little early to get too worried about gait.  I would suggest you get him broke first, then work on his flatwalk.  Do a lot of dog walking.  The foxtrot is not like a rack.  The foxtrot is a broken diagonal  4-beat gait.  After he has had some good training and saddle time, you'll need to work on collecting & suppling him.  

If he isn't too trotty, after he gives easily to the bit, then you ask for a little collection and drop his forehand a little to free up the hind end for the foxtrot.  The foxtrot looks like the horse is walking in the front (low animation) and trotting behind with a nice head nod coming deep out of the shoulder.  It should be a relaxed, flowing gait.  It can be fairly smooth to pretty rough depending on the horse.  There should be a little overreach in both his flatwalk & foxtrot, but not as much as you see with your walking horse colts.  If you develop too much overreach in your flatwalk, it makes it harder for the horse to foxtrot later.  Take your time with him and be gentle with his mouth and you'll see some good results.



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