Welcome to Naturally Gaited:
Dressage is More than Trot
Hi! My name is Jennifer Klitzke. Pictured above is Gift of Freedom (Makana), my barefoot and naturally gaited Tennessee walking horse mare and me. We have been together since 2007 when I bought her as a just turning three-year-old filly. Makana is my first naturally gaited horse. As a dedicated dressage student since 1988, dressage became our method of training.
When Makana and I began our gaited dressage journey, I scoured cyberspace for information about gaited dressage. I googled YouTube for videos that demonstrated the natural four-beat flat walk and running walk, and videos on cantering the gaited horse. There wasn’t much available in 2010, so I launched NaturallyGaited.com.
Dressage offers so many benefits for the naturally gaited horse that I felt compelled to share what we have gleaned, as well as publish links to resources that have helped us along the way.
Dressage improves relaxation (in mind and body), balance, rhythm, connection, and forwardness. I have found that these attributes improve the quality of movement in gaited horses.
- By relaxing the horse’s mind, the horse is more teachable.
- By relaxing the horse’s jaw and back, pace can be replaced with a natural four-beat gait.
- With suppling exercises, the horse can relax, engage its abdominal muscles to lift its back and with lateral exercises, the horse can develop a deeper stride beneath its body.
- By riding with a light and even contact with both reins following the head and neck motion of the horse and connect the energy from the hindquarters to the bit, the horse can develop a consistent head nod in the flat walk, running walk, and fox trot.
Dressage also helps improve the rider’s position and their use of aids in communicating with the horse which produces greater trust, relaxation, harmony, and partnership.
Most of all, naturally gaited horses flourish when ridden using dressage methods that build trust, relaxation, and respect compared to domination training methods, harsh bits, heavy shoes, chains, pads, artificial enhancements, and mechanical devices.
Gaited dressage is great for people, like me, who invest years of time and money taking dressage lessons on trotting horses and then one day wake up in a grandma body. Naturally gaited horses are easy on a rider’s back. Because they are so smooth, there is no need to sit a jarring trot. This makes a naturally gaited horse amazing for the trail. They cover a lot of ground quickly and your body won’t pay for it later!
Video: How dressage improves the movement of naturally gaited horses
If you are on this gaited dressage journey, I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me, join the NaturallyGaited Facebook community, and subscribe to the NaturallyGaited YouTube channel.