Mustang gaits at liberty, not under saddle. How can I develop gait under  saddle?

New Mexico Mustang, 4 year old. Started in snaffle moved to easy curb ridden in western barrel saddle. In arena and trails by high intermediate rider.

Question: I rescued a reservation mustang mare last year.  I have noticed that when at liberty she exhibits a gait Of some type.  I am not familiar with gaited horses at all.  When being ridden, She trots, but also has a very nice non-jaring gait.  I can not seem to keep her in that gait all the time though.  Currently she does not have shoes on because she was pregnant when we rescued her and the baby has only been weaned a few months now.  I am usually the only one that rides her so I have a very hard time seeing how she moves when I ride her.  when on the lunge line she appears to trot only, but in the pasture on occasion her gait looks somewhat like a Peruvians style of moving. I know that this is not much to go on, but I would like to see if I could get more information on how to develop the gait if at all possible.  Also her Current Yearling does not show any signs of being gaited, but I have been considering breeding her (the mother) to a gaited horse like a Peruvian or a Walker. What type do you think would be better?


From Panelists Nancy

We have an arena at our place and there is an Indian Horse club which 
puts on its show here.  Many of their horses are BLM horses and have been 
brought from the wild and many of them do gait.  Your mare, as you already 
know, does gait.  I don't know if you want to keep the trot or not.  But 
while you are working to get her to gait, whenever she trots, check her back 
to a walk.  You must develop her gait from the walk.  While walking, ask for 
a little more, but don't let her trot.  Keep encouraging her to move on a bit 
at the walk until you feel the beginning of the rhythm of the running walk or 
racking gait.  Sit very straight in the saddle facing directly to the front. 
Don't let your body twist at all.  This twisting can be a habit with many 
people who ride with the reins in one hand.  I don't know if you do or not, 
but be sure and face directly straight ahead with your shoulders.  When you 
feel the beginning of the rhythm of the rw or rack, tell her "good girl", pat 
her and praise her and let her stop.  In other words, make it clear to her 
that that is what you are asking for.  Then repeat.  Over time gradually ask 
for longer distances and eventually more speed.  Be patient with her and be 
careful to not ask for more speed than she can handle.  It takes some time 
and practice for a horse to build up to speed while gaiting.  If you ask for 
too much, she will trot, or perhaps canter.  Check her back to a walk if she 
does this.  When you have problems, always go back to the walk.  Remember 
that the rw or rack is developed from the walk.

As far as breeding her to a Peruvian or a TW, I would think that either one 
would be a nice cross, so it would be your own personal preference there. 
You should get a gaited foal with either cross.

Nancy Cade

From Panelists Darla

 I had a problem something like this with a horse I trained three 
years ago.  He had a wonder field gait and as soon as he was under saddle he 
would do many different gaits including trot and pace.  When I decided to try 
riding him bareback the gait was the same as his field gait!  It was smooth 
and consistant and he seemed to really enjoy it.  

Have you ever ridden your horse bareback?  It is worth a try.  It could be he 
has a problem in his girth area or somewhere that the saddle makes contact.  
What does he act like when you are saddeling him?  I would have this 
possibility all checked. I have a very good equine massage therapist and she 
can find a hot spot and work with it really well.

Anyway back to the horse I trained.  We later found out (with ultrasound) 
that he had a tumor on his rib cage that hurt him when  the girth was 
tightened and even more when he was saddled and ridden.  It was very 
uncomfortable for him.  I am not saying your horse has a tumor.  I am just 
trying to suggest that there could be a problem that is physical.  I 
sincerely hope you get this worked out and I hope my advise can help you a bit.


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