Messageboard Member Post
I hope you will enjoy this correspondence as much as I have. I believe it’s as instructional as any article I might write.
Gaits of Gold Message Board/August 10
Please help me. I'm between a rock and a hard place, (or maybe I should say hard pace!). I have worked with my gaited horse Dancer for quite a while to get her to stop pacing and she had been doing great until I went on a ride last month. She was pulling at the bit really hard and every time I asked for gait she PACED. She was slinging her head and going sideways too. I checked her saddle. (I recently had to get her a bigger one as she outgrew hers.) It fit fine and wasn’t pinching. I checked for any soreness to explain her going sideways and she's rock solid and sound. What else should I check? I checked her bit. It was pinching so I added bit guards until I can order one of your bits later this month. I found out that my 13 yr. old son Kevin, who is starting to get more interested in riding, has been encouraging her to step pace and gallop as fast as possible. I don't want to get too harsh with him since I gave Dancer to him but I don't want her ruined either, since I love her so much and ride her a lot, too.
Message Board Response/Aug. 12
You really are between a rock and a hard place. Though your son has a 'need for speed,' you have a greater responsibility toward the welfare of your gaited horse than you do toward the feelings of your son. Look at this as an opportunity to teach him that horses are living, breathing and feeling creatures that should not be abused (riding too hard/fast and in bad form is a form of abuse) merely for our pleasure.
Your son is old enough to understand these principles, and you'll be doing him a great favor in the long run if you instill this sense of responsibility in him sooner, rather than later. If he refuses to slow down and do things correctly, you might be much better off getting him a dirt bike or ATV. If he gets too hard on one of these, it will break down and quit running. . .period. Though another type of horse might not have its gait ruined, this is still not the best way to ride any horse habitually. (Though an occasional fast run is a blast, as we all know!)
Best of luck - and keep us posted!
E-mail Response/Oct. 12
Thank You Brenda!
A while back I posted about my son allowing my mare to pace and the difficulties I was having with her. Your advice and the 2nd Generation Imus Comfort Gait Bit I bought have worked wonders. I sent Kevin back to basics on Disco (Dancer's mom). I made Kevin ride this old girl bareback and work on his cues and control over himself and his horse. I took him to local auctions so he could see horses that had been damaged physically and mentally by inconsiderate riders and abuse. I then made him part of Dancer's retraining. Kevin and I worked with Dancer quite a bit together and he is now more aware that every time he rides he is in effect training the horse he rides.
This was an especially hectic week (season, actually), and I'd begun to wonder if all the effort of reform in the gaited horse world is worth the price. . .your message was a much needed confirmation that it is, and that I’m doing the work the Lord has chosen for me.
Would it be possible to use your letter (perhaps with the original posts) in our upcoming e-newsletter? It's important for people to know how much difference it makes to do things properly with these special animals with which we have been blessed.
Again, thank you so much for the feedback. It mattered.