Gaited horses are a great option for people who want to ride but aren’t ready to take the leap to a faster speed horse. These horses are typically easier to handle and less likely to have a problem with spooks than non-gaited breeds of horse. They also have more stamina and can travel longer distances over a shorter period of time. Some of the most popular gaited breeds include the Tennessee Walking Horse, Rocky Mountain Horse, American Saddlebred, Spotted Saddle Horse, Icelandic horse and the Peruvian horse.
When you decide to ride a gaited horse make sure the saddle fits, both when the horse is standing and when it is moving. This requires a high degree of coordination and suppleness on the part of both horse and rider, so if your horse has issues with its gaits due to lack of suppleness or proper fit it can cause problems for both.
A well trained gaited horse is able to perform a variety of different gaits including the running walk, jog and canter. This allows them to cover more ground quickly and easily on a trail ride. This is particularly important for those who may be riding over long distances.
The best way to prepare for riding a gaited horse is to spend time in the saddle and familiarizing yourself with the horse’s unique movement. You should learn everything you can about the breed you are riding as well as the special cues and exercises that will bring out the best in the gaiting ability of your horse.
One thing that many gaited horse owners overlook is the importance of establishing and maintaining proper balance and equitation. This can be challenging on any horse but is even more crucial on a gaited horse that needs to be able to maintain impulsion and collection while traveling at a good pace. Many times a gaited horse can loose its ability to gait when its rider doesn’t stay in the correct “Center”.
The center is where your seat meets the horse’s withers, about a hand or two back from the withers. This position provides the greatest amount of stability for your body while remaining a comfortable distance from your horse’s neck. If you’re unsure of where your center is when riding, try displacing all of the weight you can from your feet and legs to your center and see what kind of effect it has on the horse’s gaiting ability. If the horse loses its gait it will have to use energy to propel itself forward which can lead to lateralizing or a change in its rhythm and pace. The reverse is also true; good balance and equitation will help your horse to gait at its optimum level. This will make both the horse and the rider more relaxed and confident.