Good question! Here are some things to check for:
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For the anon with the TWH:
I ride dressage with walking horses and my horse does something similar. She moves walk, gait, canter. Her gait has three speeds 1- really slow so the dogs can keep up 2- we’re late for church 3- let’s see how fast we can go before we canter. Usually we gait at speed 2 and use speed 3 to push and work. We ride at least 45 minutes, she’s in great shape and very well conditioned but she does get lazy and falls out of her beautiful gait into the dreaded plod. Plodding is a lateral movement that is not quite trotting but not quite gaiting either. It is stiff side to side movement that I find less comfortable than sitting a trot. I can tell when she’s plodding, or about to, because she stiffens her head, looses her suppleness, and is just plain old rigid. To regain the gait and leave behind the plod, I half halt with the inside rein. If she starts to fall into the walk, squeeze and lift her with my calves back into the gait.
The canter kind of depends on the horse. We have one who canters so smoothly you think you’re still gaiting and another who can’t make up her mind, sometimes its big movement sometimes its little.
In regards to cantering, many gaited horses find it difficult. They are gaiting laterally and cantering is a diagonal movement.Some have no problem with the transition and will jump right in, others get all flustered because they can’t quite figure out what to do with themselves or where to put their feet. I ride a TWH who has never been taught canter under saddle because she doesn’t care for it and neither does her owner, they’d be happy to gait off into the sunset together.
Overall though, TWH are my favorite breed, the ones I’ve worked with are sweet, willing, forward, big old goobers. They sure give you the ride of your life!
Hope this helps! —ginmwagz
I don’t really have a lot of experience with gaited horses, but I think that twh can be trained to have a nice “rocking chair” canter— you just really will have to train him. Their trot is usually uncomfortable, as really what they’re known for is their running walk (that’s the nice smooth gait they have). The speed is something you should be able to work on though through shortening his stride and teaching him to collect.
Like I said though, I don’t have much experience with these horses, so if any of my followers with gaited horses have anything to correct me on/add to, feel free!
The best tip I can give you is to keep an open mind and let your trainer do her job and coach you through those moments of not knowing what to do. Riding is something that you learn by doing— take things slowly as you gain more experience. Ask your trainer any questions you have (there’s no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to riding), and listen to her answer. When all else fails, remember the basics of your position to keep yourself balanced and safe: sitting in the saddle, heels down, leg on, eyes up, and hands down. Your trainer will help you with the rest :)
When I say “flex your hips back”, I mean press your heels down against your stirrups and follow the horse’s arc with your body by releasing and sticking your butt out so your seat stays centered over the saddle and can lock your leg in place.
Why don’t you talk to your trainer about looking for an off-barn lease? Let her know what your budget is and try to see if there are any other options you can go visit. If not, for your situation what I’d suggest is sticking with your current horse for maybe 3-6 more months and reevaluating then (maybe your parents will be able to afford something else, maybe there will be another school horse available, etc). In the meantime, keep working with your horse to get super solid at that 2’-2’3 height, and work on strengthening your equitation to be both pretty and effective (this is something you can work on with any horse, and will help you be able to ride/show any horse in the future). Good luck!! :)
(2/2) Sorry it’s long. But I don’t wanna bug her about it because she already answered and she’s been so kind to me to let me ride and show him. But we work amazing together and I would absolutely love to show him off at fair. What do you think I should do? (I know your busy but would really appreciate your opinion. Thanks so much for answering)
If you really want to make this work, then I would ask the horse’s owner to come out to the grounds and reconsider. You can tell her exactly what you just told me— you don’t want to pester her because you’re so grateful for getting to ride her horse at all, and don’t want to pressure her, but you’d love for her to come out to the fairgrounds to see you with this horse and get more information on what a 4-H project is. Let her know that you’ll accept her decision if she still doesn’t feel it’s a good idea, but you’d love the chance to give her more information. If she agrees to come to the grounds, have your trainer/advisor talk to her as well. Listen to her concerns and try to address them as best you can. A little maturity and thoughtfulness will go a long way, as she’s probably just trying to make sure her horse is safe. And hey, if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world, you’ll find another project!
Circles, spirals, figure eights, lateral work, pole work, and hill work!
I never fell off but after the ride my trainer told me that if I could ride him I would be able to ride Rev, a horse I’m supposed to ride next week for the first time. Now I’m a little intimidated. Any tips for letting go of that ride and relaxing next time I get on?
Don’t worry about it, your trainer was probably just trying to make light of the situation. You’ll be fine! You have to have a “short memory” when it comes to those mistakes- learn what you can from those scary rides, and then push them out of your mind so they don’t influence the future. Focus on the horse you’re riding now, not the past. Don’t anticipate a big problem and accidentally cause one. Put your energy into feeling that connection, sitting centered in the saddle and moving fluidly with your horse. You know the basics, and that’s what you have to concentrate on- heels down, leg on, hands together, body back, eyes up. Count your horse’s strides if you have to, in order to settle into a rhythm and feel the horse moving underneath you. Ride this horse like he’s a good horse, and then react effectively if he tries something naughty. When you get on, take the first few laps to warm up loosely and get to know what the horse likes (in terms of leg/contact/etc) and want he needs to work on…once you figure out those quirks, you can start to work on how to correct them. Most of all, just be really confident in everything you ask- you have to be the one to make decisions and really tell the horse what you want, otherwise it won’t know. Fake your confidence if you need to, so that you fool your horse and your brain into thinking the confidence is real. Be direct and clear in your riding, using your aids (seat, leg, hand) as a way to guide him. Have patience with him and yourself. Good luck! :)