Non-USA Standardbred ridden in snaffle, mild curb or short-shanked hackamore
with a  western and/or english saddle in indoor and outdoor arena and dyke by an experienced rider

 Question: I own a wonderful Standardbred ex-pacer gelding who is doing very well at learning and maintaining the trot and canter.  However, due to my back problems I would like to pass our current horse on to my daughters and purchase another pacing Standardbred and train it to do a running walk or stepping pace.  Is this possible?  How would I go about doing this?  Would the horse be able to maintain the smooth gait for
long trail rides?  Would it be also be able to learn the canter?  Are  there any books explaining the training methods and if so, where would I  buy  it?   Thank you!

From Panelist Annette 

 You would have your work cut out for you to retrain a pacing Standardbred to
do the running walk. It would be easier to train one to do the stepped pace,
but still a project if he is a hard pacer to start, which is what is
preferred for the track. I am not saying it is not possible, only that it
would take great patience, time and effort, with no guarentee of sucess.
Even if you do teach it to do an intermediate four beat gait instead of the
pace, the problem with pacey horses in all of the gaited breeds is the high
tendency to revert to the pace when out of condition, when tired, or on
downhill grades. Pacey horses in general tend not to hold a smooth gait over
the parameters necessary for a good trail horse, distance, time and terrain.
And, if the horse is a determined pacer, it will not canter even at liberty,
much less under saddle.

You would be better off purchasing a horse of one of the breeds that is bred
to do an intermediate 4 beat gait from the start, and there are several to
choose from, Tennessee Walker, Icelandic, Mountain Horse, Foxtrotter,
Mangalara Marcha, Peruvian Paso or Paso Fino. I am not aware of any books
that would be of assistance to you in this effort, except perhaps Brenda
Imus' books. Lee Ziegler also has material in article form, some of which I
believe can be found on this site, with information on working pacey horses
into even timing.

Having thrown a bucket of cold water over you with the above, let me say
that my very first gaited horse was a 25 year old Standardbred, retired from
the track when he was about 5, given to me with saddle and bridle. He was a
wonderful horse, so I fully understand your love of Standardbreds. The
horses I have since found that I personally feel are the closest to what
Laddie was in personality are the Mountain Horses, which is exactly why that
is now my breed. I found that if I sat on Laddie just right, and held my
body just right, and my hands just right, and got his head set just right,
all of a sudden I would be moving along rapidly, with no bounce! Honestly,
for a while I thought he was the only horse in the world that did this, as I
had come out of a dressage background and thought horses could only walk,
trot, canter. I discovered that it was probable that he'd been retired from
the track because he would not hold the pace at the speeds required to be a
winner, because he was instead a natural single footer. They are out there
in the Standardbred breed, and in fact, it was one of them, Allen F-1,
retired from the pacing track in disgrace, that sired what people came to
realize were the smoothest horses to grace the hills of Tennessee, which is
why he was subsequently designated as the foundation stallion for the
Tennessee Walking Horse Association. So, if you are determined to have a
Standardbred, because of their wonderful temperament, which I fully
understand, then learn everything you can about gait, and how to identify
it, and try to find one of those that was probably slow on the track,
because he could not pace fast enough to be really fast at it, and he is
more likely then to be a natural single footer. There is a tape out by Eldon
Eadie called The Running Walk of the Tennessee Walking Horse where he shows
a pacing Standardbred race, and one of the horses, Interior Decorator,
breaks out of the pace on the home stretch when the horses are being pushed
for speed. As the horse is leaving the track afterwards, he is shown in slow
motion, and it is very clear then, as Eldon points out, that the reason he
broke gait is because he was not pacing, he was a pure single footer, and it
can be clearly seen in the slow motion section of the tape. You might want
to get that tape, so that you would be able to see what a single footing
Standardbred would look like moving. I also have a tape which I call my
Crash Course in Gait, that shows intermediate 4 beat gaits in slow motion,
so you can get a good handle on what they look like, and there are others
out there as well. Robin Ratliff and Ted Saare also have tapes on gait
identification that could be of help to you.

Annette L. Gerhardt

From Panelists Laura

You could probably teach this horse to gait, but it might be easier for you 
to buy a horse already set in their gaits rather than trying to correct what 
might be a very tough pacing problem.  Since you haven't yet purchased this 
horse, I would suggest you look for one of the other gaited breeds that 
already has a smooth running walk and a nice canter.  If you are concerned 
about price, look for an unregistered or older horse that may carry a lower 
price tag.  Good luck.


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