Washington 5 1/2 year old TWH ridden in small shank bit and light endurance saddle in Pasture and arena by middle level rider.

Question: When doing the running walk my gelding is fine as long as it is
slow---when I ask for speed he actually shortens his stride in the front and
will want to pace.  He really wants to pace going down hill on trails also.  I
have put an a rubber tubing device from the girth to the caveson and back to
the girth for more collection and it seems to be better but he reverts back as
soon as I either take it off or don't ask him to be collected. He will pace for
a new rider who doesn't ask for collection--but he KNOWS how to if I ask for

From Panelists Laura

Do more uphill work at speed.  Also ride more in the ditches where the 
terrain is rougher to help break up his pace.  Praise him a lot when he is 
smooth and make a disgusted noise when he is rough.  Slow down when going 
downhill to keep him in gait.  If he can't stay smooth downhill, dog walk 
him.  Put on lots of miles.


From Panelists Lee
I think your main problem here may be the broken mouthed "cowboy" snaffle
curb bit.  This bit tends to encourage a horse to raise his head and what
you need, obviously, is to get him to lower it a little.   Try a 5 -6 inch
shank grazing bit with a solid mouthpiece and see if he responds better.
Also, get rid of the rubber tubing (this is a sort of standing martingale)
and instead use your hands, low and separate, one rein in each, to ask him
to keep his head down  and nose slighlty tucked toward vertical when you
increase the speed of your running walk. If you consistently ride with light
contact, using light squeezes and releases on the reins  to remind him to
keep  his head down, he will eventually figure out that he is to carry
himself in that position, and will just go that way without the reminders.
He will have been trained to carry himself that way, not forced throug a
strap that he might fight to do so.

Remember that not all TWH have a lot of speed in the running walk -- yours
may be one of the slower ones, and if you push him beyond his ability, he
will not be able to walk.  It is normal for pace inclined horses to pace
more when on a downhill -- until you get him solid in the running walk and
flat walk on an uphill and the flat, don't try to go downhill with any
speed. The idea is to avoid pacing, no matter what it takes to do so.  Then
when you do ask on a downhill slant, take a deeper seat, and be ready to ask
him to really collect on the bit, not pulling back, but keeping his head
toward the vertical as you speed up.

As for teaching him to do this for everyone -- he has to do it consistently
for you before he can do it for a "foreign" rider, and then you have to
coach whoever rides him on how to ride the gaits.  You can't expect him to
work well for someone who does not ask him to do the gait in a way he
understands .... he is obviously not one of the never-break-gait strongly
gaited types or he would not be doing what he is doing with you ....Give him
a chance to learn what you want, ride him consistently in the gait he is
expected to do with no lapses into pacing, and eventually he will choose the
running walk over the pace for any rider. But it will take time!

Good luck

Lee Ziegler

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