California 13 year old Rocky Mountain ridden in Full Cheek snaffle and Austrailian in Round pen, small outdoor arena by beginner, have worked with trainer a little on

Question: I've just moved to area, and had this mare sent here.  She delivered her foal on 3/22/01 so I rode her yesterday( April 5th)  for my first time.  She was fine but am unfamiliar
with how to keep her in a smooth gait w/out trotting.  What kind of bit should I use and when I collect her do I bring my reins up and together with leg pressure and then release
leg pressure?  Not real familiar with riding gaited horses.

I don't know anyone who works with gaited in the area and have her boarded on a qtr. horse ranch.


By Panelist Liz


Since this mare has recently foaled I suspect she is not in physical  condition to hold gait but for so long before breaking with out some support for her to maintain. At this time I would do lots of walking and work on gait for very short amounts of times until she is in
better shape.

You should be fine working in a snaffle bit and to help her stay in gait you may need to keep leg on her to keep her going forward for awhile but when she does start to get stronger you will want to start to lightly release your leg pressure and get her to hold the gait on her own. Even if you get just a couple of strides with out continued leg pressure reward her with a voice. 

She may also need help in keeping her head collected and set for a while but again at some point you will want her to carry collection herself with out having to hold her set all the time. Just as with leg pressure, a little at a time release the rein contact just a bit and keep pushing her with leg and see if she will hold it for you. When she starts to fall out of gait
just re-enforce the leg and rein till she is holding gait and then give her the chance again to hold it on her own. 

She does need to be in good physical condition though before she can hold gait for any length of time. It takes about 9 weeks riding 5-6 days a week an hour a day for a horse to be in really good condition and be able to hold the rocky mountain gait  for 3 , 5-7 minute
intervals an hour with out stress.


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