Colorado 2 1/2 year old 1/2 arab, 1/4 saddlebred, 90 days Pro Training ridden in snaffle and english/hunt seat saddle in round pen, large outdoor area, large indoor arena by rider advanced in hunt seat, english pleasure & equitation.

Question: I have a very smart and willing and gorgeous black/white 1/2 arab pinto gelding (with 1/4 saddlebred).  At 90 days, he is trotting, walking & cantering beautifully, leg-yielding and coming into the bridle nicely.  I bought this horse to be an all around english pleasure horse.  We will eventually take him out on trails, and enter him in local shows for hunt seat, walk-trot-canter classes, english pleasure, english equitation.  I have been riding English & western for 25 years, but I do not have any experience with gaited horses.  However, we are noticing that he is naturally gaiting...doing a running walk, and has an extremely smooth trot. 

Another trainer at the barn is offering to train him to bring out his gaits further. (at a cost, of
course)  However, I do not have the money nor the time to learn about this whole new discipline.  I bought him for the purpose of owning him for english pleasure (do not plan on selling him, so training him so that he's a valuable gaited horse for re-sell is not a priority)

So, my question is, should I discourage him to be gaited?  Or do I perhaps encourage him to do one or two gaits (fox walk/fox trot) and keep it at that? If I encourage one of these gaits, will I still be able to enter the english pleasure classes with non-gaited horses by doing the 'normal' walk-trot-canter? In other words, can we train him to switch off the gaits when necessary for english pleasure shows?  I noticed on my internet research of gaited horses that Arabs are not listed as a traditionally gaited horse, so it must be the 1/4 saddlebred in him that is coming out. 

Any feedback will be much appreciated.

From Panelist Erica

Yes you can teach him to do a specific gait only when asked - as you would
when teaching other specific cues, to only perform when asked. Many
successful w/t/c horses are also gaited but simply taught to gait only when
asked, and vice-versa.
Erica Frei

From Panelist Lukka


Icelandics are horses that are ridden in a whole array of up to 5 gaits (walk, trot, rack, flying pace and canter/gallop), and most of them learn to switch rather consistently between the gaits, according to what the rider is asking for.  I know of people that have trained other gaited breeds to both rack and trot under saddle, and am sure that this can be done with many of the big gaited horses. 

But then you have to be sure that you can handle being consistent in asking for the different gaits, and be able to give some definite clues so that the horse does not mix everything up.  Especially if the judges would frown up on your horse throwing in a few steps of gait now and then.  Ask your gaited trainer whether he thinks he could train the horse so that he'd
make a big difference between when the rack and the trot.  And whether he thinks he could train you to do the same. I know of a girl that read my website about how to train a trotty icelander to tolt (naturally), and she did the same with her purebred arab, and after a
while she tolted (racked).  So, maybe there are more racking/foxtrotting arabs out there than we think ; ) 

But, anyway, if your gaited trainer simply wants to take the horse and turn him into a gaited horse (maybe even reprimanding him for trotting), you might be in for a huge problem when you want to ask him to trot ; ) 

Happy trails.


From Panelist Liz

This sounds like a very nice horse and the preference to utilize
the gait that you are seeing is up to you. There is no reason though
why he can not be taught to hold a trot and hold a gait as well. Just
be sure the signals for both are different and he understands what you
are asking for and can give it to you when asked. As long as he can do
this and not just pop out a gait in your trotting classes you are just
fine is showing him in those classes.
If he does  get confused then I would stick on coarse for what you
want to do with him and not continue with working gait.
It sounds like you already have some fun goals set for you and this
Working on gait can certainly come later to. When you do have time,
start watching and learning from an experienced gaited person that
knows how to train a horse to hold gait and trot as well, not one that
just trains for gait alone and not utilize the trot.


From Panelist Lee
Actually, Arabs are indeed one of the breeds that perform "other" gaits -- so this could be coming from both sides. For your own comfort when out riding on the trail,  I would not see a problem with letting him do a gait from time to time, when asked, as long as he also trotted, when asked.  It is entirely possible to train a horse to do various gaits on cue, (witness 5 gaited saddlebreds) but you need to have definite and sensible cues for each
gait. At this age, this horse is a baby and will go through a lot of body and gait changes as he matures.

So, the brief answer is, yes, you can train him to both trot and do some easy gait as well, on cue.

Good luck, he sounds like fun!

Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Laura

Since you are primarily interested in showing only in English Pleasure, you should probably concentrate on just working on your walk, trot & canter.  When pleasure riding you could give him verbal rewards for giving you a smoother gait - might as well have a nicer ride <G>.  I don't see why you would need to spend extra money for training for gaits you aren't really planning on using.


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