New Jersey, Racking Horse 4 year old. Ridden in  low port curb with 8 in shank with western saddle in round pen and 50 x 100 arena by rider who has been riding 15 years but is new to gaited breeds.

Question: I recently purchased a 4 year old racking horse, I ride him in the same bit that we tried him in at time of purchase, I am not used to a leverage bit and would rather ride in a snaffle, he does not rack consistently in either bit, but he is better with the curb.  When asked for a gait other than a regular walk he usually starts at a trot and does not  always go into the rack and sometimes pick up a very slow 4 beat canter, the previous owner seemed to put him more on the bridle to get him to rack but I am afraid that he is losing his brakes with this technique. I would like to know how to get him to pick up the rack and if it is ok for him to trot and canter, I was told that would ruin his rack, if there is a specific cue I could teach, which one works the best.  your advise is greatly appreciated.

From Panelists Laura

To get a good rack from this horse, it sounds like you will need to "pick him 
up" more in the bridle.  Some horses go better with a little extra support in 
the mouth (actually helps "hollow" them out - which a lot of horses do 
instead of rounding & collecting to do a rack).  You could try sitting down 
on your butt, pushing your legs slightly forward and away from the horses 
body, raise & set your hands where the horse can lean a little on the bit and 
ask the horse to "rack on."  You don't actually pull back on the reins, you 
just provide some support.

If the horse knows the whoa command and will stop when asked, letting him 
lean on the bit a little should not mess up his stop.


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