|Pennsylvania 5 Year old SSH ridden in a
snaffle with western, prefer bareback. In an indoor and outdoor arena
by advanced beginner.
Question: I am considering buying an angel of a SSH. He is a small
five year old gelding. He seems to have a problem holding his gait,
but the dealer says that is a combination of my not knowing how to hold
him in his gait and his age. I only want to trail ride him, so perfect
gaits are not my issue. My question/issue concerning this horse is
One -- His running walk (when he tries to do it, bless him) is pretty
jarring (i haven't had bruises like that in a long time). His canter
is to die for though.
Two -- He throws his head around like a son of a gun. Apparently
someone in his past (about which the dealer seems baffled and clueless)
may have roughed him, because when I ask him to collect himself (or turn
or stop) even just a little bit, he starts throwing his head up and down.
Otherwise he is a willing little guy in every way.
Is there possibly a way to fix his RW so I won't get hematomas on my
butt? He *never* trots. It's just that his front legs seem
to be moving twice as much as his back legs if your watching him from the
ground. And of course, can that head thing ever really be fixed since
he's five now?
From Panelist Laura
If your horse's "running walk" is that rough - it's not a running walk.
new horse may be doing some variation of the pace. You should
for someone in your area that knows gaited horses and their gaits and
them determine what your horse is actually doing. Your horse
can probably be
taught to gait (something smoother that what you are currently getting)
knowledgeable trainer. At 5, your horse is getting pretty close
mature - the roughness in gait is probably not related to this horse's
but rather to training/shoeing/collection/rider's ability or other
As for the head tossing - check the teeth first. Are wolf teeth
with the bit? Does the horse need floating? If you're not
sure, have a vet
check your horse. If you are in the process of buying this horse
_BE SURE to
get a vet check/pre-purchase exam. This can save you a lot of
heartache later. If the teeth are fine, you might try a different
bit to see what this horse is comfortable with. You might also
horse with a lighter hand to see if that helps. Good luck with
From Panelists Darla
Congratulations on you new horse! First I would like to say he
is probably paceing since it is so rough and most TWH horses tend to get
pacey. Have his feet checked for the proper angles. If he is
pacey try having his hind feet trimmed "high heel " style and his front
feet "flipper " style. This usually will help him to bread up the
pace into a running walk if he has one. A lot of TWH horses I have
trained lately tend to Singlefoot or rack! Have his
mouth checked by a your vet. He could have a sore mouth or wolf
teeth. If not work him in a "rythm maker" with a snaffle for
a while. They are made by Richard Shrake and work really
well on mouth problems. Best of luck and if you need more help
From Panelist Nancy
It sounds like you have a nice horse, but one who needs a lot of
very skillful training. The head tossing comes from nervousness
and a lack
of training to make a mouth. And the nervousness comes probably
the lack of training, therefore, a lack of his understanding what he
is to do
- so he becomes anxious and nervous, therefore tossing his head.
circle. The only remedy is someone who is a very skillful trainer
knows how to develop an educated mouth to work with him. That
would stop the
head tossing and develop a horse that will accept the bit and give
bit. Then his training can progress. It's hard to picture
the gait that you
are describing. I believe that to improve his running walk that
he needs to
do a lot of slow flatwalking and gradually develop the running walk
that. He needs to relax and do a true walk. I don't know
if this advice has
helped you much, but yes, he can be improved with some skillful work.
habits are harder to correct than if he had never learned them in the
place. He needs a trainer who is skillled and patient and knowledgeable
correct the mouth problem.
I just reread your question and perhaps he is just so green that he
doesn't know anything. If that is the case, you might start with
in long reins and teaching him to stop and turn, etc, and bitting him
a light rein contact for short periods of time might help. If
he is really
just completely green, you will probably be able to teach him yourself.
patient and remember, he hasn't a clue what you are doing on his back
what is happening to his mouth. Give it a try!