TWH has great gait at play, choppy under saddle. 

Washington  TWH 6 Year Old ridden in shank, with a snaffle mouthpiece in a cutback saddle in the ring by a medium level rider.

Question: I started with horses late in life, and before I owned one I took saddleseat lessons with a well respected trainer for two years. I am now on my own, but before I left my trainers barn I purchased my horse, at 4 yo TWH. My trainer brought him from Tennesse as a big lick candidate, but after 2 months he said the horse didn't like it, and he wasn't going to make him do it. Now as I look at his papers I think maybe everyone (all four owners in four years of his life) came to the same conclusion. He is a wonderful horse! Loving and sensetive, kind and playful. I have no intention to show him, only to love him and ride him. My question is: when he is playing in his pasture he has a beautiful walk, when he follows me on the ground he is loose and striding, but when I saddle him up he gets short and choppy. I left him free for a year, just to relax after the pressure of training but I suspect that he has performance anxiety whenever he is ridden. How can I get him to relax !
and enjoy the saddle with that beautiful long stride I see on him at play? 

From Panelists Darla

Hello,  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.


From Panelist Laura

I think you are on the right track with taking it easy with this horse.  If 
he has been with 4 trainers trying to get him to work with pads, he has 
probably been stressed.  

Try riding him mostly in a dog walk and teach him to come off the bit (ride 
with a looser rein).  Loosen your reins, when he speeds up, give him a little 
half halt (small quick tugs on your reins) and then loosen the reins again.  
You may have to do this several times until he understands that if the reins 
go loose, it means to keep going, not take off.  That should help him to 

Once you get him walking quietly on a loose rein, then you can gradually 
start speeding him up into a nice flatwalk.  If he freaks out when you speed 
up, go back to dog walking until he is calm, then try again.  You may also 
need to work him for a fairly long time to get him tired enough to be loose & 
relaxed.  Take your time and you should get him gaiting.



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