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Post by Sunny Admin on Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:33 pm

Hi. I have a headset question. I have Rocky and she is my first gaited horse. When I ride her, her head is really low like a quarterhorse. Isn't it supposed to be higher? I'm wondering if headset affects gait, as she's trotty. Shouldn't headset come naturally? I don't know if she's just rounding up with a low head or if she's doing something else, and I don't know what to look for?

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Post by Eric Adams on Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:05 pm

ERIC: Katey,

Don't think about whats natural here, if we were going to be natural we would walk not ride, right? On your headset it will affect gait some but not totally. A lot of Rockies tend to be trotty anyways regardless of their headsets. If you get her head up, some by bumping her in the mouth with the bit, it will help her gait and elevate her head. Good luck!

Thanks for your question,


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Post by Susan Brown on Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:20 pm

SUSAN: Hi, Katey

A trot can be caused by a rider's forward seat and loose reins, similar to a Quarter Horse rider. Which is interesting since you said she carries herself like a Quarter Horse.

This is a good time to use the gait "See-Saw" to help explain how to help your mare to stop trotting and start moving in a smooth, four beat lateral gait.

more rounded>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>more hollowed

nose down & in>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>nose up & out

more collection>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>less collection

TROT foxtrot running walk rack PACE



/ \

As you can see, the trot has the horse's nose down and in, with body rounded, as you say she is doing. The saddle rack, the preferred gait of the Rocky Mountain Horse, is actually going to be a slightly hollow form, with the head elevated above the withers. The horse needs to have contact on the bit. She will also need tension in the neck to perform the saddle rack. Without the tension, she may pace.

This is best started on a mild curb bit. So starting on even ground, holding your hands about waist high, with good constant contact in her mouth, push her forward from the walk with pressure from the calves. Be sure that you are sitting very deep in the saddle, back on the cantle and "on your pockets". This seat will be used to achieve the gait in the training stages, but you will want to revert back to a more vertical seat once she's got it consistently. The saddle rack is an energetic gait, so you will want her to move forward from the walk with speed and energy.

If you have trouble obtaining this, she is probably lacking drive. Teach her drive first from the walk. Teach her the difference between a lazy walk and an animated, fast, energetic walk. Then produce that at a faster speed.

Once you teach her to use energy, maintaining neck tension and keeping her head a bit higher than the withers, you should easily find her sliding into a smooth, fun rack.

Good luck, Katey!
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