Missouri 2 year old  American Saddlebred working in  60' rd. pen. Paddock by Level Rider: 4 yr. in futurity training.
 Question: I have two problems!  I am just beginning to  long line our 2 yr. old, 16 hand, ASB gelding.  As a weanling he was shown  in one futurity and then let down to mature.  We could see that  due to his rapid growth he was going to be awkward as well as
 clumsy.  When he is just out in the pasture he will mostly run.  

In the round pen he will strike a trot, sometimes it is breath  taking to watch but, most of the time it is pacey (both feet on  the same side move at the same time.)  His awkwardness mainly appears when he is coming to a stop, he will roll over on his  toes in the rear, like a stumble.  His feet are trimmed every 6  weeks.  Is this considered "Naturally Gaited, Broken in the middle, ambling or pacing?"  He carries his head bent at the poll  and his neck well up.  He has fantastic shoulders and a nice dip at the withers.  His dam has one of those big upright floating almost stationary trots.  He appears loose and awkward.  "How do get and maintain the correct animated trot?" 
 The other problem is bridling.  Even as a weanling it took a rocket scientist to get a halter on him.  You had to move slowly and nothing could giggle.  He would throw his head up and even rear.  I have thought him to drop his head to my feet and stay their but, the minute I start to apply any head gear up he goes.  I have to use a quick change head stall and apply the bit after, I have the head stall on. I can clipper his bridle path, face and
 whiskers so long as I stay away from his ears and forehead. This is very frustrating and time consuming but, I refuse to loose my temper or interest.  Any suggestions?

From Panelist Nancy

If he were mine, I would start him in the round pen with him bitted up (with a relaxed rein).  Even though he is in a round pen, in order to control and  direct him better I would use a longe line.  First, tell him to "walk". When  he understands that well (and you praise him each time he walks when you tell  him to), then ask him to "trot".  Whenever he comes up with something other than a trot, stop him in a gentle manner and ask again.  When he does trot,  immediately let him stop and praise him.  When he is quite consistent at  taking up the trot when asked, then lengthen the time that he trots. Always  praise him, but stop him and start over if he does anything else. Later,  when he is quite consistent at trotting when asked, if he paces or "whatever"  instead of trotting, you can be a little more corrective when you stop him  and then ask for the trot again.  Repeat until you get the trot.  Then  praise!  Sounds like your horse is definitely gaited.  Later, when he
is very  consistent at trotting, you can start him on his rack for the 5 gaited class. 
About the bridling problem.  This can usually be corrected very easily with  SUGAR!  Some people might not approve of this method - but what's the  difference between that and any other praise.  Use what works.  And at my age  the easiest is the best!  First, teach him to eat sugar lumps.  He will love  them once he tries them.  Then when you are putting the bridle on, as you  slip the bit into his mouth let the lump of sugar go in with it.  A
couple times like that and he will put the bridle on himself!

Nancy Cade

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