Spring Training for the Gaited Horse
A very young gaited horse ought not to be ridden for more than a half hour or so, and that only at an easy walk. The speed, length and difficulty of each ride should be increased gradually according to the horse's individual needs. The good news is that working your horse at walk transitions is also the best way to re condition it for gait work. The slower, easy pace of your spring rides will help to condition your body for the more strenuous summer riding months, as well.
When you start your spring gait training, don't limit your work to meandering slowly down the trail in a straight line. Keep the rides interesting and fresh, while increasing the conditioning factor of a ride, by doing some work in circles, figure eights, and figurines. Practice proper halts, half halts, and rein backs. Spice things up with a short 'walk race' with a riding partner. If you should find yourself out on the trail longer than the optimal length of time, by all means take a break: dismount and let your horse find a few mouthfuls of sweet young grass shoots.
Here's wishing all of you a wonderful riding season!