“Dressage is more than trot…and the saddle you ride in.”
About Dressage for the Gaited Horse
Some traditional dressage riders believe that dressage is only for horses that trot. While some owners of gaited horses believe that dressage will MAKE their gaited horse trot. Others believe that teaching their gaited horse to trot on cue will ruin their horse’s natural gait. I challenge these notions and here’s why…
Dressage is a French term for the training of horse and rider. Whether you ride english or western; whether your horse trots or gaits, it doesn’t matter. More specifically, the foundational principles that dressage training offers is to improve rhythm, relaxation, balance, connection, harmony and engagement with your horse and help you grow in knowledge and application about rider position and effective use of aids.
Good dressage training brings out the best natural movement in your horse whether it walks, trots, gaits, or canters, and it helps you become a better rider so that you will be able to develop a consistent communication with your horse as your body awareness grows in the timing of your aids.
That’s not all! Dressage training translates far beyond the four walls of the arena into versatility training. I find it refreshing to bring my horses to team penning, sorting cows, trail obstacles, trail riding, endurance races, and gymnastic jumping. Dressage training has made the naturally gaited horses I ride more maneuverable around obstacles, jumps, and sneaky cows, and they are more reliable on the trail. Plus, a naturally gaited horse is easy on an aging grandma body like mine!
Dressage training has made all the difference, and it hasn’t made the gaited horses I ride TROT (unless I’ve cued them to do so!)
Enjoy the journey!
Naturally Gaited is a blog written by Jennifer Klitzke who shares her journey as she applies dressage with her naturally gaited Tennessee walking horse Gift of Freedom (Makana) and other gaited horses.
Jennifer has been an avid dressage student since 1988. In 2007 she became acquainted with naturally gaited horses and has discovered how much dressage improves the quality of movement in gaited horses through relaxation, balance, forwardness, rhythm, and connection.
About Jennifer Klitzke and Naturally Gaited Tennessee Walking Horse Gift of Freedom
Jennifer began showing her naturally gaited Tennessee walking horse, Gift of Freedom (Makana) in 2008 at TWH breed shows where the team earned “2010 Trail Pleasure Champion of the Year” with the Minnesota Walking Horse Association.
Gaited Dressage Clinics
The rider/horse team has attended numerous gaited dressage clinics with Jennie Jackson, Larry Whitesell, Jennifer Bauer, and Bucky Sparks.
Jennifer and Makana have been a gaited dressage demonstration team at western dressage and traditional dressage clinics, and have been a TWH demonstration team at the 2010 and 2011 Minnesota Horse Expo.
Since 2010 Jennifer and Makana have shown successfully at open schooling dressage shows as the only gaited dressage entry. The team has ridden over 60 dressage tests—Intro through First Levels—using NWHA, FOSH, and NAWD tests. Makana is ridden barefoot and with a mild snaffle bit.
In 2014, Gift of Freedom and Jennifer Klitzke, earned Training Level Champion, First Level Champion, and earned the Highest Score Award in the 2014 FOSH Gaited Dressage program.
In 2015, Gift of Freedom, ridden, trained, and owned by Jennifer Klitzke, earned Training Level Champion and First Level Champion in the 2015 FOSH Gaited Dressage program and earned First Level Champion in the 2015 NWHA Gaited Dressage program.
In 2016, Gift of Freedom, ridden, trained, and owned by Jennifer Klitzke, earned Western Dressage Training Level Champion in the FOSH Gaited Dressage program. Jennifer also began showing her friend’s fox trotting mare at NAWD virtual shows where they placed 2nd of 11 in Intro 2 and 5th of 9 in Intro 1 Western dressage as the only gaited horse in the class of trotting horses.
United States Humane Society Award and Grant
In 2015, Jennifer and Gift of Freedom, received an award and grant from The United States Humane Society “Now, That’s a Walking Horse” Program recognizing correct training of horse and rider without the use of artificial enhancements or aggressive shoeing techniques while focusing on the gymnastic development as a way to improve and establish the gaits of the Walking horse and through volunteer efforts to “spread the word” by sharing the good news about the natural Walking horse to the trotting as well as to gaited enthusiasts who have seen the limitless potential in the breed in new ways.
Jennifer is a member of Central States Dressage and Eventing Association and Friends of Sound Horses.
Video: Age-defying Dressage