Texas 2yr almost 3 TWH

Question: AS I HAVE ONLY OWNED AND TRAINED Q HORSES IN THE
PAST.  I FIND I NEED SOME INFORMATION.I HAVE ALWAYS DONE MY
GROUND WORK, THEN MOVED TO A TWO WHEEL CART, THEN TO A
SADDLE. I HAD INTENDED TO DO THE SAME WITH MY TWH WITH MY
ONLY CHANGE BEING TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE WAY HE IS GAITING AS WE TRAVEL IN THE BUGGY. I REALIZE THAT I WOULD BE WORKING AGAINST MYSELF IF I PUT HIM TO A BUGGY AND ALLOWED HIM TO MOVE MORE LIKE A Q HORSE. HOWEVER , I WAS TOLD BY SOMEONE WHO OWNS GAITED HORSES AND WHO ALSO DRIVES THEM THAT A GAITED HORSE IS ALWAYS ROUGH IN HIS GAITS UNDER A SADDLE IF STARTED OR USED TO A BUGGY. THE ONLY REASON I COULD SEE FOR THIS IS IF HE WERE ALLOWED TO MOVE IN ROUGH GAITS WHILE PULLING THE BUGGY. PLEASE TELL ME IF I CAN TRAIN HIM THIS WAY WITHOUT RUINING HIM AS A SMOOTH SADDLE HORSE. HE HAS TWO VERY NICE NATURAL GAITS THAT APPEAR TO BE SMOOTH.



From Panelist Liz

Hi,

I do not agree with them being rougher undersaddle if driven first. I believe this to be a very good way to get a young gaited horse started and Have seen no ill effects unless done incorrectly as with any breed. I would first understand which of the natural gaits this horse
is capable of first and then be sure if using an overcheck that it is not to tight to keep this horse from gaiting, especially if the horse does a running walk or a fox trot .

Happy Driving!!
Elizabeth



Yes, you can and should. Your thinking is sound. Nice way to build back end without weighting the horse's young joints.

However, some caveats:

(1) Pulling a cart can stress hocks on a young Walker. Don't over do it. Don't pull too much weight. Avoid a lot of tight circles and soft ground, especially at first. Don't do it too long at one time. And most important...go slow. Lots of dog walking.

(2) Do not expect perfect gaits in a young Walker, whether ridden or driven. Your goal should be for the horse to enjoy going forward. You want, above all to let the horse move and use himself, regardless of gait. Do not penalize off gaits or fast off gaits with punishment e.g. bit pressure. The horse won't know what the problem is and will assume you don't want him to go forward. It will confuse and sour him.

(3) Do not worry about off gaits at this early stage. Gaits are easily taught from the saddle by lightly discouraging off gaits and rewarding correct gait. This requires you to learn the difference. This would be a good time to start...before it matters.

Remember...gait in any gaited horse is a combination of factors in descending order of importance (known as Ranger's Equation):

Gait  = genetics + comfort (mental and physical) + conditioning + physical maturity + gait training.

For example...if the horse is immature, is uncomfortable, is ridden only once a week and is untrained for gait, then even the finest genetic Walker will not gait. By punishing him for the wrong gait, all you do is make the horse mentally uncomfortable. You make the equation worse. Don't go there. Gait training should be a positive experience for the horse.

A mature Walker with mediocre genes, but relaxed, in optimal shape (ridden daily for at least one hour) and ridden by an expert, may gait very well. 

Think of the Ranger Equation when you work with your Walker in any setting and you won't go astray. We can't do anything about a horse's genes (which are most important), but we do have control over everything else.These "minor" factors, when added together, can make up for a lot of genetic deficiencies.

Best

Steve Chasko



From Panelist Lee

Whoever told you that about driving gaited horses must not have known much about the history of the TWH -- once upon a time they were most all driven before being ridden, and many were worked to a plow.  On a video called " A look into the Past" made by Dr. Bob Womack there is some film of old time TWH that spent their early lives being driven, and none of them are rough riding.

Some of the older trainers used to always drive them  before they rode them, because they believed it made their gaits better.

Go ahead and drive your horse -- just try to avoid letting him pace when you do, and do NOT use an overcheck.

Lee Ziegler



From Panelist Nancy

You are very right.  The only reason he would be rough under saddle is if he 
were allowed to move in rough gaits while pulling the buggy.  Of course you 
can train him by driving him first as you had planned and you will end up 
with a nice smooth saddle horse as long as you drive him with intelligence 
and care, as I know you will.  Your training regimen sounds fine to me.

Nancy Cade



From Panelist Bob

I start ALL of my young horses in harness. I use the same D ring snaffle bit that I use when I start them under saddle. I have never found this practice to make their gaits rougher. I have found that by starting them in harness they tend to be much more rounded and there is much less tendency for them to pace..

Bob Blackwell



From Panelist Stella

I agree a certain extent, but it can be corrected; it really depends on your under saddle competence training, and if you are inexperienced with gaited horses, you're likely better off reversing the process, starting under saddle and then going to the cart.

Gaited horses move best if light in the forehand and driving off their hindquarters, doing this more so than their non-gaited counterparts (except those at higher levels of dressage). Cart training has a tendency to promote the horse to work more off the shoulder, chest, general forehand to pull (getting somewhat strung out behind), and so it can become confusing to the horse when this is OK in the cart, but not something you want under saddle. A naturally well-gaited horse that is a "clean slate" and balanced, can easily be asked to work off the hind end more so with leg and little forehand dependence under saddle. Once he is "locked in" on the habit of driving forward off the hindquarters as a habit of movement in gait under saddle-which includes conditioning the appropriate musculature to perform properly - they tend to keep this frame when later placed in cart, even if they do need to use their forehand more-that becomes just "adding" to what 
already has been trained (pushing more from the "rear motor" rather than pulling with the frontend- makes for smoother driving, too!). 

The hindquarters are simply already conditioned to "do their job right." It is far more difficult to teach the correct frame initially in the cart without more harshly using overchecks and breeching adjustments that may make training uncomfortable to the horse...not something you want to do ever, but certainly not as an introduction to work...that should be pleasant and not so restrictive. As a "first gaited horse," try the reverse of what you are used to with the QH and you'll have a much easier time reaching your goals of a super smooth riding AND driving horse!

Stella



From Panelist Laura

Sounds like you are doing a nice job with your colt.  Don't worry too much about gaits while you are driving him.  Keep him mostly in a walk and he will build the right muscles for his later gait.  The nice thing about driving is that it gets a horse pulling from the front end and pushing from behind - exactly what you want for getting a good gait.  Keep up the good work with your horse.

Laura
 
 

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