Tag Archives: gaited horse over jumps

Life and Random Thoughts about Gaited Dressage

By Jennifer Klitzke

I hope your Spring is off to a great start! After six month of winter’s dark and cold, I was chompin’ at the bit for sunshine and ridable terrain to be back in the saddle and riding my naturally gaited Tennessee walking horse Makana and my friend’s naturally gaited fox trotting mare Lady. Thankfully, I’m back riding again. I hope you are, too!

Lady FoxtrotFirst off, I have great news: Lady, my friend’s fox trotting horse, has officially become a part of my family. Lady has been boarded at my place the last three years and my friend feels called to other time commitments in life. She has turn Lady over to my care, yet she knows that any time she wants to ride, she is more than welcome!

At the same time, due to my aging parents, a full time job, and the demands of life, I had to part with my once-in-a-lifetime Spanish Mustang, Indy, who had made many of my life-long dreams come true: cross country, endurance, stadium jumping, trail obstacles, dressage, and more.

NAWD Basic 3 stretch trot 1
My Spanish Mustang Indian’s Legend showing a jog by allowing the horse to stretch its head and neck out and down.

Indy was missing our continual weekend adventures that I no longer had time for during my Dad’s grave illness and my Mom’s need for our assistance on the weekends. I sold him back to the owner I purchased him from. Now Indy is living the trail horse dream. Here’s Indy’s story»

050617 Lady jumpingOn the bright side, Lady possesses many of Indy’s brave qualities, so who knows, after we get her canter consistently well established on both leads, maybe we’ll be back competing at these same events–only as a gaited duo!

So, now that it’s been Spring, here’s what’s been percolating since I began riding…So much of my focus has been on the depth of stride from behind. Lately I’ve been contemplating about fore stride in addition to the hind leg stride as it relates to head nod, throughness, connection, balance, engagement, rhythm, shoulder scope, and following the horse’s natural movement with my arms and seat.  It seems the more I follow the natural motion of the horse, the more freedom I’m seeing in the horses I ride.

Video: Naturally Gaited Tennessee Walking Horse Flat Footed Walk

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Gaited Dressage: A Course of Ground Rails

Gaited horse jumping

By Jennifer Klitzke

Gift of Freedom, my 8-year-old Tennessee walking horse and I are preparing for our first stadium class at the next schooling show (over ground rails, mind you.) In preparation for the show, I googled the Internet for a basic stadium course that I set up at home with ground rails.


Yes, jumping over a course over rails even improves our gaited dressage! The course pictured above helps me work on bending, rhythm, balance, and communication with my horse. Since we have been dabbling with jumping, Makana’s canter has improved and consequently, her flat walk has improved. She has more of a true three-beat canter and her stride has increased at a flat walk.

I’m telling you, this jumping stuff is so fun whether you have a gaited horse or one that trots. Give it a try and you can’t help but smile! (And let me know how it goes.)


Starting a Gaited Horse over Jumps

The trick to jumping is to never scare them

By Jennifer Klitzke

Fearless, carefree and adventurous. I’ve always aspired to be an event rider, yet fear has held me back. Reflecting on the last few years with Makana, my Tennessee walking horse mare, I’m beginning to see how our experiences have prepared us for reaching this aspiration. We’ve trailered to numerous shows and clinics, ridden through several state parks, a gaited trail trial, and now to face the jumping part.

Starting my naturally gaited Walking horse over fences wasn’t something I wanted to tackle on my own. So we trailered to hunter/jumper barn North Run Farm in Delano, MN for professional coaching from long time instructor Len Danielson. He began our lesson by having us walk over ground rails, jump standards, and get acquainted with flower boxes before jumping over them.

One advantage to having a hard trotting horse is that you can introduce a horse to fences at a trot. Since my Walking horses lacked a trot, I had to bite the bullet and do all of our jumping from the canter at the get-go, yet I was very pleased with how calm and level-headed Makana handled her new experience. She seemed to enjoy herself as much as I did.

Here’s a few pointers Coach Danielson offered when introducing a gaited horse to jumps:

  1. Len said, “The trick to jumping is to never scare them.” Start with walking over a ground rail, then add a second, and a third. Get the horse relaxed, take breaks, and repeat the exercise at the canter.
  2. Keep jump sizes to ground rails and 12″-heights to build the horse’s confidence.
  3. Remember to grab mane and keep calves  on the sides of the horse to encourage forwardness.
  4. Gradually work up to a ground pole placed 16 to 17-feet before a 12″-fence to encourage one canter stride before the jump.
  5. School these exercises once a week and the other riding days just have the horse hop over something during the riding session.

Thanks to Coach Danielson, we are on our way to making my eventing dreams come true. Who knew that I would begin this journey on a horse that doesn’t trot!

North Run Farm offers numerous schooling shows year round, both jumping and dressage that are open to gaited horses.

Video: Starting a Gaited Horse over Jumps