Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why I love gaited horses

(Yeah, yeah, ANOTHER post. This is like 7 in two days, I know.)

Yesterday I did not take the Cersei with me, because I was going to ride Champ on the roads. Her recall is very good but I'm not willing to risk that, no way no how. Today Cersei was pretty wound up, so we kinda had to go ride.

It was Dixie's turn, so I steeled myself for possible death and headed out. Fate smiled on me and K and her daughter T were out there. YAY! T took her horse Goblin, the lazy-ass halter bred QH. We whistled up the dogs and headed out.

I took the "work smarter not harder" method of mounting Dixie. I walked her through the gate to the trails, shut the gate, let her face the gate, and got on. She sure didn't want to walk anywhere except back through the gate, so she didn't try to take off.

We had a nice ride. I took T on the "easy" part of two different trails, then down a medium difficulty slope. Not too steep, but fairly rutted and eroded, so you needed to switch sides twice on the way down. I told her to lean back, don't let the horse rush but give him his head, and TRUST HIM. She did good and wanted more, but we needed to head back. I promised lots more of the same in the future!

Why I love gaited horses: On one of the straight flat sections of trail, T asked if we could go faster. I squeezed and kissed and Dixie took off from a dog walk through a running walk (briefly) to a slow/medium rack. Goblin had to canter to keep up. Muahahah!

Dixie hates everything except me - kept pinning her ears and threatening to stomp the dogs, and pinned her ears a few times at Goblin. I had T stay fairly far back out of kick range and all was well til we cantered the short trail through the woods on the way home. I was letting Dixie rack along, and Goblin cantered fast enough to get up behind her and try to bite her ass! So T pulled him to the side and let him gallop past us and HE KICKED AT HER HEAD ON THE WAY PAST. It was seriously not cool. His foot was as high as her head and about six inches to the side.

I'm not entirely sure what to do about that, other than continuing to be very very aware of their spacing and body language. Any ideas?

Anyway, my new improved seat is helping Dixie too. She carried her head a little lower and spent most of the time in that crazy big swingy walk. (Honestly? It was easier to sit her tense prancing walk! I'm not going back to a chair seat to make it easier to ride her, but MAN. She's SWINGY.)

Another thing I've noticed is that when she gets upset she goes seriously behind the bit. Normally, when she's calm, she doesn't exactly reach out for the bit, but she'll accept soft contact. But when she gets nervous she tucks her chin to her neck and tries to evade the bit for all she's worth. Poor girl. Why the hell do people start baby walking horses in double twisted wire curb bits? WHY GOD WHY? I'm just gonna keep riding her and NOT yanking or hanging on her face and hopefully the evasion will fade away.

It was a lovely afternoon to ride. Yesterday's high was about 50, and when I rode Champ it was in the 40s and I enjoyed those new gloves. Today when I went out it was in the low 60s and I didn't even wear my (bright orange) jacket. Just my skeet hat.

Here's some pics of me on Champ from yesterday. Yes, I'm leaning forward, because we were standing on my parents' slanted driveway. Other than the leaning-forward-ness I'm REALLY happy with how my legs look!
E and Champ 4

E and Champ 1


  1. I have never rode a gaited horse but I want to SO BAD!

  2. OK -- do you have a cigarette hanging out of your mouth in that first picture? Regardless, legs are looking good.

    Raven avoids the bit like crazy when I ride with one. I toss a bitted bridle on her every 5th ride or so just so that she doesn't forget they exist. She will relax into it if I keep my hands soft and confident and keep my leg on but not strong.

  3. Stacey - if you ever get the chance, DO IT! A rack or a RW is just as much fun as a hand gallop, in a totally different way.

    DP and Serena - Quitters never win! I quit cold turkey for 3 weeks with no problem but... meh, I like smoking. My best friend's always buggin me about it too, but he DIPS, ugh, so he doesn't have much room to talk!

    I'll quit again. Any day now. I mean it.

  4. quit.

    I too have never ridden a gaited horse...boarded with a gal that had two, but I was always riding my mare when we went out.

  5. Theoretically, you only live once--might as well enjoy what you can! I don't smoke (well, cigars sometimes) but I. will. never. quit. drinking. Not ever ever ever.
    Gaited horses--i rode an Icelandic once! In Iceland, no less. It was tiny though, and i felt like i was going to kill it. Someday when i am like 70 years old i am going to be classy (finally) and have a 3-piece suit and a derby and a little Saddlebred i can mount FROM THE GROUND and we are going to go riding bridle trails and through parks. Yup.


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