Georgia 5 year old Tennessee Walker ridden in hackamore and slick seat trail saddle w/ round skirt in round pen by advanced rider.

Question: I have a 16.2 palomino mare that has a wonderful natural gait at a fast walk, but she gets real pacey from then on.  I have used the 3/4 X 5x8 shoe and that helped a little bit.  She also slings her head with me but not my husband.  Thanks for the help.

From Panelist Liz

If your mare is getting pacey her back is hollowing out and her head may be being allowed to be to high. Keep her relaxed and her back level and ask her to go with a lower head and neck . If she is slinging her head with you are you asking for more contact on the hackamore than she is comfortable with, they can have an awful lot of leverage. Maybe go to a side pull instead.

Elizabeth Graves

From Panelist Stella

If she is slinging her head with you, but not your husband, then she is very likely asking you to give her more release with the headgear! The faster a horse goes, the more it must extend its legs, the front as well as back; with the drive originating in the rear; but, in order to do so, and be able to shift its weight to the front legs as well in the advance, its head must be able to get back over the front leg to help shift its weight to these legs. 

Even humans must do this - take a step forward, and pay attention to where your neck and head goes as you shift your weight fact, you cannot shift your weight to
either leg in any direction without allowing your head and neck to land over it simultaneously! 

The same priniciples of balance in movement apply to the horse; that's how the reins really control the horse's step size, stopping,etc....put the horse in a position of balance to do, or not to do, a particular movement. 

But being a more "horizontally" built animal (we're vertical), we can restrict the step size of the front legs with the reins while asking to rear legs with our seat and legs to take a bigger a gaited horse, this will help create A PACE! The front legs, by having a shorter stride, hit the ground in shorter time than the preceding rear, and make this more simultaneous. You are probably contributing to your horse's pacing in faster speeds, perhaps from an unconscious fear of her going really fast as such a large and potentially powerful horse. 

Do check her hoof angles; they may be too low in rear and too upright in front, which also affects the stride. Maybe just the front is too high, or the back is too low; the latter is often the case. Too low an angle causes a larger step, as the horse must place its weight to its heel, rather than being able to balance squarely over its hoof...without feeling correctly balanced, the horse is more apt to want to get off that foot and quickly get better support from its front legs, and this will shorten the timing between the front and back on the same side, also creating more of a pace.

Stella Wise

From Panelsit Carol

It is pretty common for walking horses to walk pretty well up to a certain speed and then lapse into a pace.  I'm not sure if you are using a mechanical hackamore, a natural hackamore, or some type of bosal or sidepull.  A mechanical hackamore is quite
severe and I do not reccommend them.  

So now about the pacing.  First, try to get your mare's head down as much as possible.  You may want to do some of the flexing and bending excercises described on the web site. I highly reccommend them, just don't do them in a mechanical hackamore.  Use a natural hackamore(preferred), a side  pull, bosal, or snaffle bit of any kind. If lowering your mare's head doesn't square her up (by the way, you can bring it up again later), try riding in tiny little figure 8's and /or using lateral work.  

Lateral work is a fairly long process; starting with just a step or two sideways and progressing to doing leg yeilds at the flat walk.  You may want to reference some dressage books or get an instructor to help you if you have not done lateral movements before. 

Avoid riding fast down hill as this will cause your mare to pace, though she will square up on uphills. Hill work can be good for strengthening.  Weeds or mud or plowed ground also squares a horse up, but they often go back to pacing when removed from that circumstance. 

Happy riding, 

Carol Camp-Tosh 

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