Standardbred 9 years old with Professional Training ridden in snaffle and english saddle in dirt ring, indoor arena by intermediate-advanced level rider.
 Question: I have recently been given the opportunity to retrain a Standardbred pacer.  He was retired from the track about 9 months ago and has started under saddle for the past 3 or 4 months.  However, he is a free pacer and only trots with great difficulty.  

He can trot on a lunge line but has more difficulty with a rider.  We are using trotting
> poles, which help but he flips back into a pace frequently.  He has a nice canter and his trot looks nice when he gets it.  I've read other responses describing how to teach a horse to "gait" rather than "pace".  I'm wondering if there are some tried and true methods for teaching a horse to "trot" instead of pace. I am interested in dressage and this horse could work out well, if he can learn not to  pace :).  

Thank you very much for your help.

From Panelist Stella

I think if you read the sections of this site about conformation, and learn how conformation lends itself towards either being trotty or pacey, you will realize you are doing the horse a tremendous disservice and will create mental anguish trying to force it to do something its body is not built to do well, even if he tries his darndest to please you, but will likely continue to fail at. Gaited horses have elements lending to both the trot and the pace...both lateral and diagonal support systems, and are simply alternating those systems to gait. 

Going from one  extreme to the other...the pace, where solely a lateral support system is a pure trot, where strictly a diagonal support system is used for balance, is something quite different. Accept the horse for what he is, what breeders spent many generations breeding for...a good pacer. Let him keep his birthright, not try to make him something he's not. It is possible to break the pace up somewhat without much trouble to the horse, or yourself,to make the pace a much smoother ride(to a gaity pace, true broken pace). But to expect to turn him 180 degrees opposite, and to what he is not even built to do well at all, is an unrealistic expectation, and lead to doing most unkind, and most likely unsuccessful and unnecessary things to a horse. If you MUST trot, buy a horse that trots easily and naturally....spare this animal, and love it for what it is. They are far more
rare creatures than trotting horses, and should be valued for what they can do....the pace is a much faster, more groundcovering gait....perhaps a driving person or someone doing alot of crosscountry riding would enjoy him more. You may find someone to trade with, perhaps...this should be fairly easy, since pacers are much harder to find, and give you more choices as far as trotting horses that are available. 


From Panelists Liz

Hi, If it is possible to bring the trot out in this horse it will be a matter of time and some work on your part. Getting a good relaxed walk will come first and teach the horse to move with it's head down and lower. To the point that the back rounds up underneath of  you. You will want to get to the point that the horse will keep it's head lower and the back higher at a good flat walk and push toward the trot in this frame. Try this going over ground poles as well. Just remember if the head comes up and the back hollows out the horse will stiffen and go back into the pace. For some horses it is a matter of pushing past
the pace while bringing the head lower and go into the trot.



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