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Mandy: On an Icelandic, a clear four-beat


tolt gives you the sensation of “fl owing.” You are not being sashayed leſt to right in your body, nor are you moving up and down, rather it is subtle, dynamic oscillation that fl ows from the horse, through you, and back to the horse in a wonderful cycle of self-propulsion and forward energy. Diane: The running walk is a gait of


strength and ultimate smoothness. T ere is almost a paradox of movement as the horse moves to give the rider the feeling of a magic carpet coming up under the saddle and carry- ing them forward. T e rider’s body is carried through the air with all but no movement. Yet the body of the horse is marching in a strong, rhythmic, almost bass-drum-like cadence. T e legs of the rider will swing forward and backward smoothly with the swing of the horse’s legs and rib cage. T ere will be a slight yet defi nite “leſt /right” rotation to the torso of the rider. T e picture of a running walk reminds me of watching a speed skater on ice in the Olympics—slow, strong movement with incredible coverage of ground. Larry: T e only way to feel gait is ride as


many horses as you can. You have to work at it. Get ing the opportunity to ride some horses who have a balanced, smooth way of going will allow you to experience the feel and then know what you are working toward with your own horse.


WHAT DO I LOOK FOR IN A “GAITED” HORSE CLINICIAN/TRAINER/ INSTRUCTOR SO I CAN PARTICIPATE AND EXPERIENCE THE ANSWERS TO ALL OF THE ABOVE QUESTIONS?


Larry notes: “When I look for a teacher, I want to see their horses. Not only do the horses appear to be trained like I want, but is their horse happy with the training. Are their horses forced?”


Betsy: A clinician should have professional


experience, be currently riding/working with horses, have references and a good reputation. It is futile to try to learn from someone that you do not have a taste for. T ere are a lot of qualifi ed trainers, so try to learn from someone you like and can relate to. In my experience, people get the most out of lessons and/or clin- ics when they “Shut up and Ride!” T is means talk aſt er the session—ride during the session. Julie: If you want a horse that is naturally


gaited and will give you a comfortable ride down the trail, look for a trainer that trains natural pleasure gaited horses and/or trains gaited horses for trail and versatility events rather than a trainer who trains for the gaited breed “show ring.” Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) is an excellent resource for infor- mation regarding naturally gaited horses. Attending a FOSH-sanctioned show is an excellent way to meet people with naturally gaited horses who will gladly share informa- tion to help you fi nd a “gaited” horse clinician/ trainer/instructor. Mandy: It is helpful to have someone who has


a broad base of knowledge from which to draw from rather than just a single breed or discipline. Diane: This person should be a well-


educated HORSEMAN in all areas of the horse world, not just gaited riding. T e horses they handle should appear calm, polite and at entive to this person. Does the person have sound, focused, kind tools for dealing with various behaviors of the horse and student? In other words, does he have a basic working knowledge of his trade....does he know the fundamentals? A trainer/instructor must have knowledge


of the biomechanics and mind of the horse and rider in order to help the individuals into a good working posture and relationship. T ey should know “why” things are happen- ing and guide you to correction, not just scold the “incorrect” action. It is helpful to have outside resources (others knowledgeable in horse or human awareness) to tap in to when something requires attention. References should be available. This professional will answer any questions you ask in a confi dent, non-threatening approach.


CONCLUSION T ank you for joining us in this two-part


series on easy-gaited horses. Our panel has presented you with valuable take-home in- formation—solid, logical horsemanship is the key to your relationship with your gaited horse. Continue to accumulate knowledge from


sound horse trainers and instructors. Show your horse understanding and consistency as you work on the skills you desire on the trail. T e panelists’ contact information is included in their biographies should you wish to contact any of them. T e patience and practice you put in with


your gaited trail-horse partner will be well worth the eff ort. AND remember: If you’re lucky enough to be riding your horse on the trails—you’re lucky enough!


WWW.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US • June 2012 | 33


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