California, 19 years old of Unknown Gaited Breed with Professional Training, I'm a good rider though I have only shown a few times in hunter and western pleasure.

Question: I was given my mare because she had foundered.  Her owner went to college
and had leased her out to friends who didn't take care of her. She was over fed and underworked and gradually foundered.  I have been working with her for about six weeks.  She is doing much better and I expect that she will be ride able soon.

I have so far been walking with her twice a day along trails. When the weather isn't too warm we now even jog together.  While jogging with her I have discovered that she is gaited.  She has a gait that is between a trot and a walk. It is very pretty,  fast and easy on her.  This is a smooth, long stride in the front and a well tucked under, quick stride in the back.  She doesn't seem to be working at all while she is doing it.

Last night I got my best look at this gait.  I was lunging her in the arena for the first time and she would go into this gait each time I lunged her to the right. When I would tell her "Good girl" she would stop and face me, as if I had pulled her up.  I would signal her to go again and she would again do it, but as soon as she heard my voice she would again stop and face me.  I am certain that she was trained not to use this gait and expects to be reprimanded for it.

Today I tried again to lunge her in the arena, hoping to catch her doing it, so that I could reinforce it, but she wouldn't do it.  I tried leading her again,  but she would start to use the gait and then pull out.  I know that it is not work for her to use this gait and I know that she enjoys it.  How do I bring it out of her after all of her training against it?

Please help me.  Thank you

From Panelist Lee

It sounds as if she is fox trotting, and she might well be a fox trotter with the looks you describe.  To get her back into that magic gait, since she wants to hard trot, first you need to push her in her ordinary walk. Ask her to "flat walk" or "walk out" on the longe (and later under saddle). When she is doing a good, reaching walk, ask her to speed up a little bit, but check her before she goes into the trot.  It may help if you hold your hand up and raise her head a little as she goes.  Keep pushing the walk and restraining from the trot, and she will start fox trotting.  Praise her extensively every time she takes the gait.  If you do clicker training, you can click and reward it that way, as well.  In addition to the rewards, she may decide she really likes the gait, because the concussion in the gait is
less than in the hard trot, and with a founder situation she may still be uncomfortable in her front hooves.

Good luck with this horse.


From Panelist Darla

You said she stops when you talk to her so try just letting her gait until she stops herself and say nothing.  Another way is to wait until she is rideable then take her to an area where there are some small gentle sloping hills.  Try to find and area that is fairly smooth without rocks and ruts.  Collect her up gently as you approach the upside of the hill get
her in a fast walk then as she starts up the first part of the hill squeeze her enough 
to ask for a little more speed.  She may go right into the gait if she does  pay attention to what you are doing right at the moment.  Where are your  hands,  how does her mouth feel,  where are your legs and heels.  

Hold that  position until she feels like she is tiring and wants to break gait.  When she does slow her down right away and let her relax at a walk.  Keep this exercise up until you can get her to gait on a flat road.  If she does not go into gait on the up slope try the same thing  on the downside.  I have had horses gait better at first going down hill.  It depends entirely on the horse and how they gait..  I hope this helps.  Please feel free to contact me 
by email.  MY email address is on my ASK A Trainer web page.  

Darla Nassif 

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