By Jennifer Klitzke
Do you have a naturally gaited horse and wonder why it doesn’t have a consistently smooth natural gait?
Lots of people buy a gaited horse thinking that they automatically gait. While they are all born with the ability to perform naturally smooth gaits, it takes time to develop those gaits through consistent training to ingrain muscle memory. Over time the horse can develop balance, rhythm, relaxation, impulsion, and strength to carry a rider in a smooth natural four-beat or easy gait.
Developing a consistently smooth natural gait requires a rider who also has developed the sense of “feel” in order to discern the difference between a quality step from an unbalanced, rushed, hollow, or disengaged step.
Not there yet? No worries! This is why, after 30 years of perusing education, I continue to take lessons, attend clinics, study DVDs, read books, and video record my rides for feedback. This helps me so that I don’t slip back into bad habits and so that I can become a more effective rider and better communicator and trainer with my horse.
In this video I share what I’ve learned about developing quality gaits —one step at a time.
This is very important: Don’t practice poor quality steps, because that’s the muscle memory you’ll create.
When the horse loses rhythm, becomes unbalanced, rushes, hollows or becomes disengaged, that’s a great cue to simply transition down to a slower gait and establish quality steps.
When you’ve re-established quality steps, then transition to the next level of tempo and refine a quality step to quality steps.
Over time, steps will turn into circles and then seconds into minutes for a longer duration of smooth gaiting time.
Video: Quality Step to Quality Steps