All gaited horse breeds are smooth to ride, but which is the smoothest gaited horse breed?
Well the word is still out on that.
Peruvian Paso owners and breeders will fiercely argue that their breed is the smoothest ride.
Icelandics fans will hotly insist that their darlings are the smoothest gaited horse breed!
Perhaps they’re both the Smoothest gaited horse breed
Having trained individuals of both breeds I can vouch for their extreme smoothness.
Both are able to carry the rider, even at high speed, and with great action of the fore legs, with next to no movement in the saddle!
Also, both breeds make outstanding trail ride horses. They are very willing to go forward and are as sure-footed as mules.
I’ll leave the word out for now and will leave my riding readers to decide.
Compare the two breeds in the videos below and make up your mind.
Which is the smoothest gaited horse breed folks?
Can you afford the horse you want?
My question now is can you afford to buy the equine of your choice?
Not all sayings are true, but I know, from my own experience as a horse owner that the old adagio, of happy but poor horse owners, sure is!
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Did you just read “whack the weight and gain the gait” and go; ‘Arrgh another Fat Attack’?!
If you did, friends, you may relax right away and put your feet up. This is an attack for sure, but the target is obesity. Certainly not the obese among us.
Any advantages to obesity?
Tell me please what the advantages of obesity could be. It’s cuddly you say? Oh yeah, lots of guys find a full-bodied woman very cuddly and sexy too. Love handles you say? Shh.
Steady on good people. Let’s not get raunchy here. There may be kids, reading my horsey stuff.
What else? Yes true, it does enable you to sit and read my excellent article, right to the end lol. You can do a long trail ride and not get sore? Ah yes I suppose…
Still, I think you’ll agree that obesity comes with obvious dangers, right? Let me tell you this; there are some unexpected ones too.
Here’s the story
Read my story and see what I discovered. You may wanna get yourself a coffee or a sasparilla, or what be your fancy, first.
Putting on weight, so what?
Five years ago I noticed I had been putting on weight. You know, metabolism slows down, with age, and not much you can do about it right?
Already 63 then, I didn’t think much of it. Until, one day a cuddly, but rather uncouth, girl friend (not a girlfriend) gave me a great big hug.
Flab pinching IS a big deal!
Then she started to, playfully, pinch the fresh flab on my hips. “Hm getting a bit chubby, aren’t we”? she laughed.
Ouch that hurt. Not the pinching, of course, but the indignity of it! “Is this how it’s gonna be now”, I thought with dread!
I didn’t look bad in my youth
You know, I used to be quite attractive, as guys go. If a girl hugged me, her next move would surely not be to pinch the flab. There was none to pinch anyway.
Take a look below. That’s me at 25. Not bad, if I may say so myself lol.
No procrastination now
Normally a procrastinator, I didn’t delay this time. A weight loss quest was my next move. Oh boy, it was epic!
Weight loss OW style
It soon turned into an Oprah Winfrey style Roller Coaster tho. I’d lose 10 kg and soon gain 15 kg, to replace the loss.
If you guys are overweight now, I guess you can relate to the agony of it, right? In less than a year, I had put on more than 20 kg. That’s nearly 45 lbp!
Horses lost their bzass
Now I was ready to give up and accept the inevitable. The horses I was training seemed less energetic too. Not as much lift, up front, and just less bzass!
I figured, with the added flab, I must have lost muscle tone too. So I started to work out, and I mean WORK out! My leg muscles became iron and then some!
I couldn’t get impulsion
Yet, frustratingly, I remained unable to generate that great impulsion, from behind, which translates into high front leg action. That had always been my strongest point, so I came near to despair
Was I too heavy?
Could it be that I was too heavy, for them to carry?!
No it couldn’t be. Working with horses, in Iceland, I’d met guys twice my weight. They sure got the best out of their horses!
More bad news
Desperate now, I called an old friend in Iceland. He told me he’d seen the same thing happen to lots of guys, my age. Most of them had quit eventually.
Never one to give me false hope, he said: “You’ve gotten fat and lazy is all. Time to quit perhaps? “ Exasperated, I flew into a rage, and threw the phone to the wall.
My Eureka moment
Before putting on all this new weight, I used to be uncomfortable sitting on a wooden chair. To ease the discomfort, I would soon have to, either sit on my hands, or put a cushion on the chair to sit on.
Sitting on a kitchen chair, I remained deep in thought, for at least half an hour. Then it occurred to me how long I’d been seated, and still in no hurry to get up.
That’s, when it struck me. How dulled and diffuse the fat cushion on my bottom must have made my cues!
If I can sit for so long, with no pain, then how much will the horse feel the impact of my driving seat? Very little and very imprecisely!
I ride alone because….
When I take on a horse, to train, my first condition is this: I alone ride it until it’s ready.
Only then will the horse learn…
Why? Because, only with one rider is one able to fine-tune the cues, to a point where the horse reads and obeys your mind before the cues.
To read my mind
If there are two riders, who both cue just a little differently, the horse must guess what you intend. Thus, you never reach that amazing mind read point.
When the owner, let’s say, receives the trained horse, it will not be able to read her mind. Not yet.
But, having learned it with the trainer, it will be capable of perfectlylearning his/ her cues too.
If the owner’s cues are consistent enough and precise enough, it will shortly begin to mind-read her as well.
You see the vital importance of precision and consistency, in the cues?
Having realized the negative impact of that diffusing fat-cushion, on my rear, I redoubled the search for a weight loss program that actually worked.
LCHF!/ Keto Diet!
Finally I stumbled across the LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) protocol. Also known as the Keto Diet. Thank you Google, I owe you!
I joined an LCHF site, run by a medical doctor, who had learned the ins and outs of it in the US.
He lost 150 kg
One of the first guys I came across, on the platform, had lost a mind boggling 150 kg/330 lbp, in just one year!
He could fully wrap the loose skin, on his upper arms, around them.
That’s all I needed to know. It worked! In 3 months I lost the extra 20 kilos of weight I had gained.
But it continued! I went, from 90 kg down to 68kg. That’s 4kg less than I weighed at age 17!
My then wife lost weight too, but not as much. That was because she cheated, having too much carbs.
The motto of Greater Gaiter is “for a Smoother Ride thru life” and, losing weight will certainly smooth the ride, for so many of you my friends.
I will be adding a few other weight loss protocols also, to GG, for those who can’t do LCHF for any reason.
Must you lose weight?
So, you ask, does this mean you must lose weight to get the smooth gait? Well it means, if you want to get the best gait, from your horse, you probably do.
If you’re overweight, losing some of it, will improve the gait for sure.
If you’re exceptional no worries
But there are, of course exceptions. The great Brenda Imus was no Sylphide, in her later years, but could still out-rack any young buck
15 kg lost and impulsion was back
Already, after losing 15kg, my driving seat was back to best standard! I was happier than a banana-stealing monkey, on a roll
The motto of Greater Gaiter is “for a Smoother Ride thru life” and, losing weight will certainly smooth the ride, for so many of you my friends.
I will be adding a few other weight loss protocols also, to GG, for those who can’t do Keto for any reason.
Must you lose weight?
So, you ask, does this mean you must lose weight to get the smooth gait? Well it means, if you want to get the best gait, from your horse, you probably do.
If you’re overweight, losing some of it, will improve the gait for sure.
If you’re exceptional no worries
But there are, of course exceptions. The great Brenda Imus was no Sylphide, in her later years, but could still out-rack any young buck.
So, if you’re in her league, no worries. But for the rest of us my advice is: whack the weight and gain the gait!
Thanks for reading, my friends!
If you liked this post please leave a comment below.
Oh and be sure to share it on on your social sites.
Hi Smooth riders all. Goran Bockman here to help you out.
Today I’ll be talking about how to correctly start your Saddle Horse under saddle.
I will walk you through the process of starting off at the right foot, so you will be able to train him right, right from the start .
Create a training plan
A training plan is a great tool to help you progress in an orderly manner. That said, you created it and you can, of course, change your plan as needed.
Break down every step forward into many small steps.
Flexibility is crucial.
You will find, you often need to adapt your plan, to a flora of problems that arise, in the course of the training.
An example, you’re starting to teach the horse to lunge, but it turns out, he is scared of the lunge line. Perhaps he sees before him a flying Dragon.
You need to take a step back and desensitize your horse to the line (or Dragon as the case may be).
Fill every step forward with intent and consistency!
Every step in the training should be a stepping stone for the next step in the progression.
So, for instance, you begin to establish you leadership by briskly walking up to the horse, with your right hand raised.
In response your horse backs up. The very millisecond he starts to move backwards you say “back up”. Say it with authority, but not in an angry voice.
What happened there?
1. You started to assert yourself as his leader, and
2. you established a word cue that you’ll always use, when you want him to back up!
Intent and consistency!
Establish your leadership
Make sure your horse is very clear on who the leader is. To accomplish this, you need to know it very well too.
Also ensure that what ever you planned, actually happens.
Not just sometimes but ALL the time! Let things take time. Stay patient and positive at all times. And yes LOVE him, but keep it firm.
Always have a Mini-plan
Part of your plan must be to have a mini-plan, for all you are doing. For every moment of training.
Read that again please and never lose sight of it. Always have a plan!
Always have what? That’s right folks à plan for every step!
Everything you do from now on is training, to the horse.
You can train it to respect and obey you, or to disrespect and disobey you. The best relationship is built on mutual respect and trust.
If the horse fails to obey you, never ever leave it there!
Why? Because that would be teaching it disobedience!
A happy horse is key! Below is an image of a key, ie a happy horse.
Introducing Friða, an Icelandic mare, one month into the training here.
Firmness and consistency, then, are keys to success.
The best leader of a herd is kind but firm and will never tolerate disobedience.
Kindness and rewards are equally important.
Keeping your horse happy and trustful of you must be at the forefront of everything you do.
Rewards encourage learning
So be quick to reward, if not with treats, as I prefer to do, then with an intensely happy praising voice.
Gently rubbing the horse’s sweetspots, at the same time, makes it all the more pleasurable.
Talk to him/her at all times
Talking to your horse helps to build trust and obedience, in him. It also, generally, calms him or her, and makes it less likely to spook.
We have now set the right framework. Following this framework will make learning easy and pleasant and, not least important, safe.
Firm and Consistent, but Kind and Encouraging; those are the indispensable corner-words of true Horsemanship.
OK so here’s my plan for
Week 1/ Day 1
Establish your leadership. From today your horse will become your happy and willing servant, and best friend too!
Here’s how I do it. I’m now assuming the horse is raw, but used to being around people.
Fetching the horse may be a challenge
First I fetch him in the pasture. Sounds straightforward right? Mmm, it may or may not be. Horses have an uncanny way of sensing that something, possibly life threatening, is afoot.
Assuming this is our first meeting I approach him at a normal pace. I confidently walk right into his space. No pussyfooting.
He doesn’t know me yet so will likely back away. Good, he should. But I also want to establish our friendship, right away, so I’ve brought some treats for him.
Tease his interest
If he’s (this imaginary horse is a He) reluctant to take it at first, I would give some to the other horses, just to tease his interest. Nope didn’t work. So I walk around him, treat in hand.
Patience and calm wins the day
Eventually he will succumb to the demands of his palate, and accept the offering. Let it take the time it takes.
On occasion, I’ve followed a horse for over an hour, just keeping up the smalltalk.
Finally, he will decide that I’m not out to eat him, or even beat him, but to treat him.
See there, high level horsey poetry lol.
Slip on halter as horse eats
As he was taking his treat I deftly slipped the halter onto his head. Give him some more, to calm any upset nerves. Keep talking in a low and soothing voice.
I’m assuming now that the horse has been led before.
So some treats, at suitable intervals, will keep him following me.
Stop and stay
From time to time I stop him. The word cue I use is “stop”, and I combine that with a visual cue. Normally I lift the lead rope as cue and stomp my foot to clarify.
Having given the treat, I face the horse and tell him “stay”. I back away a few steps.
If he moves I twirl the lead rope saying “back up” and again “stay”. When he obeys, lots of praise and more treats.
What is my intention?
What’s my intention with this training (yep basic training going on) do you think? Give it some thought please. I’ll be waiting right here.
That’s right! It’s about taking control of the horses movements! Replacing your horse’s plans with your plans.
This concludes day 1 of week 1. Your horse will have lots to think about, so when your happy with it, call it a day. Make sure you end on a happy note.
In the next article I’ll cover the rest of first week training, and further, so stay tuned folks.
Please leave your questions and other comments below.
Hi there Smooth Riders all. Goran Bockman here to help you out
Quit horsing around guys! Here are my 12 Killer Tips to get You dead serious about Your Horse Business!
Train the horses you want to sell, to fit all.
Take prospects on a trail, with the horse of interest.
Start a tour riding service. Many people like to buy a horse that they’ve been riding and have learned to trust.
Buy young horses to break in and sell.
Buy I’ll-trained horses cheaply. Fix and sell dearly.
Buy top lineage foals on Iceland. Leave them there until time to break in. Have them trained. Then import and sell. You will get top quality for the price of average. Buy mares and have them in foal with A1 stallions.
Rent out spare barn space.
Build competition facilities. Sell products to visitors.
Get your own tack brand. Sell on competitions or online.
Rent out, or rent, the wombs of Top mares.
Import frozen sperm, out of A1 stallions and sell.
Build rehab facilities for expensive horses.
A couple questions
Are you treating your Horse Business as a game? Don’t know how to grow your firm and monetise it to potential? Unsure how to get your message out there?
If yes, to the above questions, this article is for you. There are so many ways you can make more money. I’ve listed a few of them below.
Are you curious yet? Read on then. I won’t keep you waiting.
First a look at what you can do, if you own a farm and a number of horses.
I’m assuming now that you’re an experienced rider/trainer.
Selling horses is a good cash cow. But, It can get so much better, if you minimise what you spend on raising/buying/training horses to sell, and maximise what you sell them for.
Buy young, and untrained horses cheaply.
Start them under saddle and put basic, but high quality, training on them. Train them to fit every buyer! Read how in Dig for the golden gait and find the tolt Fool-proof brakes on the horse is super important!
The price of the horse could double in just a few short months.
Buy ill-trained horses (very cheaply) and re-train them properly.
I assume here that you’re able to spot a horse’s true potential, even when it’s not apparent. Buying and retraining can be extra lucrative with gaited horses, owned by riders with little to no experience of gaiters.
Gains could be even higher with gaited horses.
Buy horses at Online auctions!
For some reason sale horses appear to go ridiculously cheap at online auctions. Often they are well presented, with videos showing them in a variety of situations, but no high bids.
Are you an experienced Icelandics rider, who’s into breeding?
Buy fillies, with great lineage on Iceland.
Then leave them there. When they’re of age for it (3 yrs), put them under A1 stallions on Iceland. When the time is right, ie when ready to break in, bring them home. That is IF you’re able to start them under saddle, yourself, if not, have it done on Iceland.
In any case you can get a very valuable mare, impregnated, at a fraction of the cost (30-40%) of buying a high quality mare, as an adult!
As you can see the profit margin is very alluring!
Still assuming you’re into quality breeding of Icelandics, buy frozen sperm from one (or several) of the World Top 5 stallions.Reserve it for your top quality mares, if you’re serious about breeding top quality.
When selling your horses don’t just show them and allow people to try them. Instead, take them on a tour of several hours! That way they get a real feel for the horse and how they match.
As people decide to buy, invite them to stay the night and ride the horse, in the paddock, next day while you instruct them. This way the buyer will become confident with his new horse.
Chances of future problems or returns are greatly reduced by this method. Great for your reputation and future sales too.
To ensure a steady income, engage in tour riding on your farm.
Start with just 4 or 5 horses, and buy more, as the number of interested customers grow. If possible, arrange tours that last up to several days, as in Iceland.
Tour riding will boost your horse sales as well. People easily fall in love with a nice horse, after riding it a couple times. This is especially true, for longer tours, where horse and rider bond more tightly.
Details are crucial!
What’s the impression you get, riding your car on a road, going up to a farm, if it’s framed by white-washed fencing? You smell the money? I know I do!
What if the pastures are dotted with oak trees and some fine looking horses? Mmm…
A horse farm, for tour riding, and horse sales, needs, to look good (meaning expensive)!
It must have at least a paddock. Here you can instruct beginner riders, to prepare them for a tour ride, or the prospective horse buyers.
Make it the proper size for equestrian events, as you build it.
The barn is incomplete without a cosy, comfy, common area, where you gather riders for theory instruction, or other indoor activities. Perhaps just to have a coffee.
Get your own brand of Tack. Great money in saddles for instance.
Build competition/horse show facilities, if there’s any way you can afford it!
The pertinent question is; can you afford, not to?
I know there’s no need to tell you about the kinda money you can make from a major event. Right?
Let me just point out possible sources of income during, let’s say, a normal horse show.
Whoever arranges the event will compensate you for the use of your facilities. Right?
So, unless the guys, who arrange the event, are you, yourselves, they’ll need to pay you rent, OK?
You’ll need to find out the going rates and then place your bid (what you charge) on the lower, yet optimal end.
Naturally, rates will vary, according to the nature of the show or competition.
Heck just conclude that these events will bring you a major income.
If you build a barn, build it big enough, to rent out stalls.
This too could earn you a healthy side income if you’re in an area where there are many horses but not enough farms.
Rehab facilities, for super expensive horses in mid career!
This is not for all, but really has the potential to bring you tons of income.
Were talking competition horses here. Any type that brings in lots of revenue. Race horses, Show Jumpers, Super Stallions. If they normally bring in hefty sums, owners will pay even heftier sums to get them back in business.
Pet “ponies” of the ridiculously rich, fall in this category as well, even if they don’t pull in one penny.
Before investing in such a project, be sure to visit a few existing facilities to see what they invested in.
All the best guys and invest wisely! Investigate also how best to promote your business.
Take a look at the Wealthy Affiliate link below and click on the WA banner at bottom of page..
Hi there smooth riders all. Goran Bockman here to help.
I will describe, the process towards establishing the Tölt in your Icelandic.
I advise you to employ a trainer
However, if you have no experience with training a horse to Tolt, I strongly recommend you leave your Darling with an experienced trainer. Let him/her lay a firm foundation for the Tölt.
The result, in most cases, will be very much better. You will avoid a great variety of, possible, problems for the future.
A trainer for a day?
If, for whatever reason, that’s out of the question, perhaps you could have a trainer come and instruct you, for at least a day? This to make sure you get it right from the beginning.
No? That too out of the question? OK here’s what I want you to do.
Ask an Icelandics owner for help.
Say you’ve never had a chance to ride a horse at the Tölt. Are there any other Icelandics, within reasonable distance (2-3 hrs. drive) from you?
If yes, don’t be bashful. Ask their owner/s if they would let you try an easy tolting horse. Most Icy owners are very helpful, so chances are they’ll agree.
Then you will, at least know what Tölt feels like. They would probably agree to give you basic instruction, how to cue for the Tölt, too.
That can’t be done either?
OK pay close attention now.
Watch all the Tölt vids you can find on YouTube.
Watch closely what the rider is doing. Note the position of the hands.
Listen to the sound of the 4-beat.
Note the form of the horse. The neck will be well raised and its back slightly lowered.
Look how the horse’s tail bops up and down. A sure sign the horse Tölts.
OK now you know what it should look like.
Let’s examine the characteristics of the Tölt.
The FOOTFALL first.
Could you make out, from the vids, in what order the legs move, at the Tölt?
Yes, exactly the same as the Walk. Left hind-left fore-right hind-right fore. That’s why we say, Tölt comes out of the Walk.
This is important to know. We don’t try to get Tölt from Trot, or from Canter, nor from any other gait. It comes out of the Walk.
The FORM of the horse, at the Tölt.
The front of the horse is notably higher than the rear. This is because the horse treads Deeper, under itself, at Tölt.
It feels a bit like you’re riding up a slight incline.
The FEEL of Tölt
Sitting in the saddle, you will see that, when tolting, the horse’s neck is well Raised, and closer to your face, than at any other gait. The back is slightly lowered.
There will be no up & down movement in the saddle. Instead, you may feel a gentle to and fro movement, or no movement at all.
At Tölt there is never any suspension, like you have at the trot. Going at slow Tölt there are always 2 or 3 legs on the ground.
Neither is there a rocking movement, from side to side.
If there is, the horse is pacing.
You must then, immediately, bring it back to a Walk and start over.
At fast Tölt the horse will Singlefoot, ie support its weight on only one leg at a time.
But Never ever will there be a moment of suspension, before the next leg touches ground.
If there Is suspension, the horse is no longer doing the Tölt!
Here’s an old friend of mine.
What do you do then?
Exactly, you bring the horse down to a walkand start over. You need to be Determined and Patient and Consistent, DPC!
Generally you will have to do this, over and over again but, in the end the horse will catch on.
Preparing to train the Tölt
When breaking in a young horse my first aim is to ensure its mouth is Super Soft!
It can easily be done on a previously broken in horse too.
How do I do that?
I teach it from the ground.
First I put a halter on the horse, and lead it by my side.
When I want it to stop I pronounce one word. Any word will do, so long as you consistently use the same word, each time. “Stop” will do fine.
I say stop and, at the Same Time, pull back on the halter. As the horse stops, lots of praise, and I like to give it a treat as well.
Treating the horse? Up to you.
Some people will tell you that treating the horse will lead to bad manners. I say, yes it may. Temporarily. But the pros of treats far outweigh the cons.
The learning curve becomes far steeper, and the possible bad manners are easily reversed.
So I repeat this, until the horse stops immediately, on the word cue alone. May take a week or two.
Final phase Running
In the final phases of the lead training we teach the horse to run by our side. I say run, because in this part of lead training, I permit the horse to choose its own, preferred, faster gait.
Some prefer to trot, others will pace but, if we’re lucky, they will display Tölt. If that happens, I call out “Tölt”, in an excited tone of voice, to encourage it. Also, to teach them the word-cue Tölt of course.
I also increase the speed. This because, for most Tolters, a little more speed facilitates gaiting.
Try to provoke a gait
Right toward the end of lead training, I will try to provoke them to gait, especially if the horse has not yet offered Tölt. What often works, is to excite the horse, with short sprints, followed by abrupt stops and turns.
How it works in the saddle
In the saddle I will do the same as in early lead training, say stop, and pull back on the HALTER!
Yes I put a light rope halter, underneath the bridle. I will pull on the halter, if need be, to stop or slow the horse down.
Never pull back on the bit, for the first couple months.
I give the treat from the saddle too, but no longer immediately, after the first few times. Having to wait a bit, teaches the mount to grow some patience and stand still for a while.
Also, by getting a treat, with the bit in its mouth, the horse begins to associate the bit with pleasure. Actually, a mare that I broke in recently, became totally enamored with the bit.
She would reach for it, as I held it in front of her mouth, and put it in by herself lol. Then she would immediately chew on it.
From day one, of riding, I combine the word-cue, with a, combined seat and leg cue.
Let’s call it the Heave Stop.
The Heave Stop is performed this way; sit straight in the saddle, lock your thighs against the horse’s sides and lean slightly backwards. Put your weight into it.
The Heave Stop isindispensable.
The Heave Stop creates a heaving, digging, motion that I use, both for half halts and complete halts. To me it’s an Indispensable tool for training the Tölt!
A Heave Stop, used to slow the horse down, is the same as a Half Halt. Call it a Heave Half Halt. Extremely useful when the horse has started to Tolt.
The horse quickly learns what it means, since it’s already preparing to stop, on the word cue.
I also introduce a new word cue, ‘Whoa’. This means ‘slow down’, and may come just before stops, or half-halts. This too is quickly integrated in the training .
All the tools you need
You now have all the tools you need. With these alone you can control the horse’s movement, without ever needing to pull back on the reins!
What if the horse doesn’tstop?
If, at any point, the soft tools don’t work I will use the bit. But No Pulling Back!
Instead, I pull the rein sideways, (many Small pulls) leading the horse into a volt. I make the circle progressively smaller, until it (the horse) stops.
Can you see why these tools put a soft mouth and a super brake on a horse? No? Never mind. Just be sure to learn them well and then use them. They will do the trick for you too.
A typical training session
Much as I advocate Trotting the gaited horse, when we’re establishing the Tölt, we must put the Trot aside for some time.
Walk that walk
Paramount, in the beginning of Tölt setting, is the Walk. Walk that Walk as Brenda Imus was always fond of saying.
Usually I divide training time 50/50, between paddock work and hacking out. Some horses, quickly get bored in a paddock. Then we must adjust, to keep the horse happy.
Walking the walk, we want the horse to be relaxed. I switch between walking the horse on free rain and middle speed walk, with mouth contact.
How to cue for Tölt
From time to time I collect the walk. A couple of Heave Half Halts will make the horse tread deeply under itself, so it’s high in the front and neck is well raised.
Then I cue for Tölt. I dig my seat deeply into the saddle.
The increased impulsion is normally a signal to increase speed.
Not yet knowing how to gait, the horse likely attempts the Trot. Rider’s response is a sharp NO!
Back to walk. Collect the walk again and cue for Tölt.
Discourage from trot
To discourage the horse from falling into a trot, shorten the reins. If it attempts to trot again, it will now meet an unyielding hand, but just remember no pulling back. Just keep your hand immobile.
The horse will try different responses
Meeting resistance, the horse will try another response. Do a couple HHHs (Heave Half Halts). Again cue for Tölt and be Ready. Dig deeply into the saddle for the Golden Gait. Lean slightly backward and push hard.
The horse now stays HIGH, in front and reaches forward. Now Yield the hand, allowing the horse to increase the speed, whilst retaining its high form. Keep digging for the Golden Gait, with your seat. Sooner or later, Tölt will come at this point. This is what you want to aim for.
One last thing
Shoot videos of your training. If you wish, friend me on fb and send it to me on messenger and I will be happy to advise you further.
Goran Omar Bockman
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I have a question for you today. My question is this: Will regularly Trotting a gaited horse kill its smooth gait?
If not, why is Trotting a Gaiter, seen as such a no-no? I’m assuming it’s viewed as detrimental to the saddle gaits. Right?
You see my practical experience of, actually riding and training Smooth-gaited horses, is limited to 3 breeds. They are Icelandics (mainly) and Peruvian Pasos and Criollos.
There appears to be, almost, a taboo against Trotting gaited horses, among the gaited horse crowd, in the Americas.
With Icelandics the attitude is different
Not so among riders and trainers of Icelandics. We all maintain the five natural gaits of our ancient breed.
Jennifer Klitzke sets a great example IMO
Recently I rediscovered the website “Naturally Gaited”, of the very accomplished rider and trainer, Jennifer Klitzke.
I’m a great admirer of hers, ever since my days with Brenda Imus’ “Gaits of Gold”.
Jennifer described in an article how she uses Trotting, on cue, to develop her TWH, Gift of Freedom.
It was clear that this is viewed as controversial in the Gaited Horse community of North America.
Why I find Trotting important
Awaiting your reply, allow me to explain why, to the contrary, I find it crucial to maintain, and develop, the trot in the horses I train.
An Icelandic is generally, and naturally, 4-gaited or 5-gaited. A 4-gaited icey will walk and trot and canter and tölt, at liberty.
The 5-gaited horse is equipped with all 4, plus the Flying Pace.
Have a look at the WC gaits contestc for 4-gaited Icelandics below. You will note they all trot.
I see no reason not to trot
Ideally these gaits should all be well separated, each with its own distinct footfall and beat.
My aim, when I start a young horse under saddle, is to train and develop all its gaits.
It’s my experience that, training all the gaits, develops each to its fullest potential.
The end result is a well balanced and very versatile saddle horse, capable of carrying a rider for many hours.
All its gaits will be comfortable. I fail to see any reason, not to maintain the Trot.
The Tölt, by no means suffers from training the Trot. Quite the contrary.
Disadvantages of riding only easy gaits
If you only ride the easy gaits, the horse’s sides tend to get stiff.
The resulting lack of protective muscles, in the horse’s back, can lead to a sore back.
Trotting, on the other hand, makes the horse more agile and more responsive. Good news for the Tölt.
All the best, competition Icelandics are trained this way.
Please take a look at the video below, from the 2017 WC for Icelandics. This is the contest for 5-gaiters.
Do you see any flaw in their Tölt? These outstanding horses have all been trained, by the model I employ.
Are American Gaiters different?
It may be that the American gaiters are very different, in conformation, or disposition perhaps.
However, Jennifer’s results, with her TWH, Gift of Freedom, contradict such an assumption.
Also, the American Saddle Horse, a true 4 gaiter that performs a beautiful trot, negates such claims.
I have a little story for you now.
A young girl of 12 or 13, Britt, owned an Icelandic. But she had only, ever used it as a pony, for show jumping mainly.
She’d never even bothered to learn anything about the breed.
Until recently, she hadn’t even known they had this extra gait, Tölt.
Then one day, she saw a group of Icelandics, doing the Tölt, at a horse show. I was one of the riders there.
Inspired by Tölt
I’m an approachable guy, and she came up to me, after we had finished the show.
She was so excited, in a sweet way. She told me that she had an Icelandic.
The girl was now so fascinated by the Tölt and was hoping to learn how to tolt.
“Do you think my mare Blika could ever learn to Tölt?” she asked. Knowing nothing about her mare, I told her that depends.
I can’t say no
Her eyes were pleading with me, so I knew the answer was important to her.
Having heard Blika’s story I wasn’t hopeful. The mare was 15 years old. She had never showed any gait, other than the three usual ones.
The word, no, is problematic to me. Yes comes easier, but I chose the middle ground. “Let’s see”, I said.
As she looked like a young question mark, I told her; “Bring Blika to my farm and I’ll ride her. Then we’ll see. OK?”
Persuasive girls prevail
Obviously a persuasive girl, she’d convinced her dad that life now depended on her, getting to ride the Tölt. Next day they arrived at my farm, near Gothenburg.
Excellence of Blika
Blika was a well muscled, little mare, with a flamboyant Trot. You’d sooner expect to see such a graceful Trot, on an Arabian horse. Her brilliant black color made her even more of an eye catcher.
Going for Tölt
Riding the mare at a collected walk I dug my seat into her back, seeking some small sign of Tölt.
But her only response was extreme collection, almost sitting on her haunches.
Shaking my head, I saw the deepest disillusion in Britt’s cute face.
Like I said, I hate to say no, so I told her: “This does not mean she couldn’t have Tölt.
Leave her with me for a month. After that we’ll know.”
Don’t give up
Her brilliant smile explained why Dad was as wax in her hands. As I could not promise any results, I told them the training was free of charge, for now.
Should Blika begin to Tölt, as a result of the training, they could then pay me what it was worth to them.
Britt was jumping for joy. Her Dad was looking at her, as if she was a 1st prize mare. I’m sure you know that look of adoration, right?
Training started that same day. Truth is, I was every bit as eager, as Britt, to find out, if the treasure of Tölt was hidden, somewhere in this little Blackie.
Although flashy, her Trot was not at all jarring. It was quite easy to sit. No need to post even. She felt like a small Andalusian, with almost no bump in the saddle.
This looked hopeful. After all, she was a purebred Icelandic. A 3-gaited Icey is about as rare as a barking cat.
An accomplished jumper
Blika was an accomplished jumper. She clearly loved to jump.
Obstacles of, up to 150 cm, she’d take in her stride and ask for more. To keep her happy and motivated I jumped her every day. I loved it too.
After a jumping session, me and my, then, girlfriend would hack out together. She would ride my wild one, Geysir, at the Tölt mostly.
I hoped Blika would listen to the 4-beat and, maybe seek to imitate it one day.
Geysir a 1man+1girl-horse
Geysir, the star of my 3 part series, “Best Smooth-gaited Horse-on Planet Earth”, was once a One-man-only horse.
But he had gradually become a 1-man+1-girl type of horse. Traitor!
Days flew fast
The days flew past us in a blur. Still not the faintest sign of Tölt, brewing in Blika!
It was getting Uber frustrating. I kept up the “walk the walk” routine tho.
Inspired by Geysir
One day gf was not feeling well, so I took Geysir, with me, on a leash.We were riding, at a walk, side by side.
I had taught Geysir, long ago, to tolt on voice cue. Trying the same on Blika wouldn’t work, because, when teaching the cue, it must be spoken Just as the horse, spontaneously starts to tolt. I gave Geysir the cue instead: “Tölt!”
Would a voice cue work?
Talk about Horse Memory! He went, in mid step, from walk to a beautiful, collected Tölt.
Blika had taken a huge shine to Geysir, and was watching him intently.
I switched, between “walk” and “Tölt” cue a few times. As I cued for Tölt, I increased the seat impulsion, and collected her more, on the walk cue.
On the third, or maybe fourth, Tölt cue, I suddenly felt Blika rising, up front. I gave her a slight release of hand, and, immediately, she began to Tölt, as smooth as you please!
The excitement, charging thru my body, was so intense that I began to hyperventilate.
I just wanted to holler and hoot for joy but, for fear of scaring Blika, I held it in.
Fantastic joy of Tölt
Geysir had always had the problem of going just a little too fast, at collected Tölt. But now, he stayed head to head with her.
Clearly very excited, he was high-stepping now, as he would only do at a very fast Tölt.
Looking down, I could see her stepping, at least as high as he. The 4-beat of her Tölt was perfect!
My heart was pounding hard, as I cued for more speed. Would she switch to trot, or maybe break to a gallop? I even forgot to breathe.
What keeps me in the saddle
Moments like these are what keep me in the saddle, come hell or high water.
Icelandics are often referred to, as the Porsches of the Equine world. This is due to the powerful motor in them.
Blika proved herself a true Porsche, on that memorable day.
Effortlessly, she flowed thru all the gears, right into top speed!
Geysir remains the fastest Tolter I have ever ridden yet, even he had to apply himself, to stay abreast with her.
Imagine the joy
I leave you to imagine Britt’s joy, when I gave her the news. I thought my eardrums would never return to normal, after that shrill, shriek of joy from her.
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Horse back problems? The saddle could Be the culprit!
Hi there horse lovers and smooth riders! Welcome to Greater Gaiter!
Goran Bockman here to help you.
We’ll be talking about saddle fitting today, and how a bad fit could hurt your horse.
Watch out for signs of discomfort
Here are some signs you should take note of.
Are you having trouble catching your horse in the pasture?
Does it appear happy to see you, or does it run away from you?
When saddling your horse does it act up and show signs of discomfort?
Does it stand still, or start forward, before you give the cue, when mounting it and sitting down in the saddle?
If your horse shows discomfort, every time you mount it, you need to check the saddle fit.
We need to pay close attention to the messages our horses are trying to convey.
At times, they are as clear as spoken language.
Especially if they are in pain for some reason.
Mostly tho we need to think of it as sign language.
Spend much time with your horse
If we spend a lot of time with our beloved horses, not just ride them and leave, we will gradually begin to understand them.
Check older saddles too
Don’t forget to check your trusty old saddle a couple times per year. Saddles degrade with time.
Horses change as well
Maybe your horse was a youngster when you got the saddle and it fitted to a T, but he’s put on more mass and muscles now, so is it still a fit? Check it.
Watch the video below . Learn what it looks like when a saddle fits well, and when it doesn’t.
Finding the right saddle for a gaited horse can be hard
A correct saddle fit is vital to every horse, but finding a great fit for a gaited horse may take some effort, as you will learn from Brenda Imus’s great video below.
But first let me tell you what could happen if you ignore, or misinterpret your horse’s communication of pain. Perhaps you misunderstand it as obstinacy, or just plain bad manners.
Soñador’s (Dreamer) sad story
I lived in Nicaragua for three years and, boy did they have some beautiful horses there!
Nicaragua exports horses to Spain, would you believe. And what breed do they export? Top quality PREs (Pura Raca Español), to the land of origin, of the breed! PREs are better known, to Americans, as Andalusians I think.
A hipica for every town
Every little town or village has its own happy horse festival, the “Hipica”, once every year.It’s their second biggest event of the year, second only to Navidad, Xmas.
Everyone comes out to watch these graceful horses parade thru town. Bands playing ear shattering, blaring music, follow them. It’s highly festive and most people are, at least tipsy.
You can show horses every week of the year.
Hipicas are scheduled so that, if you want to show your horses, once a week, you are able to. Many breeders travel up and down the country weekly.
They do so because so many sales are contracted, during these colorful events. Loud music, lots of booze and beer, and scantily dressed, pretty girls, put people in purchasing mood.
A training gig in Nica land
I was asked by one of the Nica Grandees (great land owners) to train his Peruvian Paso stallion, Soñador, for the upcoming Hipica in Leon. This is the hottest colonial city in Nicaragua.
A beautiful stallion
The stable boy showed me Soñador under rider. A dark chestnut, with long, flowing mane and tail, the stallion, standing at 16hh, resembled a very tall Icelandic.
But very high-strung
My first impression was that Sony appeared extremely high-strung and reactive. Every little cue, from the stable boy, produced a nervous start.
I thought: that horse looks like he has a sore back. The saddle on him seemed very small too, for such a large horse.
As I sat Sony, his immediate reaction was to flee, when I put my greater weight in the saddle. I soon dismounted and asked Jose, the stable boy, to remove the saddle and then tie Sony to the nearest tree.
Yep Saddle sore
As I gently palpated the area that had been covered by the saddle he violently reared up. I knew then he was seriously saddle sore! A great love for this magnificent stallion was ignited in me.
White spots, in the saddle area of his back, confirmed to me that this was not a first. Sony had certainly been saddle sore, on several occasions before.
A week on ice
I instructed Jose to put Sony in his stable, and apply ice on his sore back. He shook his head at my idea, which must have seemed extremely odd to him.
Back in Léon I went looking for a shop, where I might order a custom-made saddle, to suit Soñador. His girth was probably twice as wide, as the standard size of the local Criollos. They are all gaited, by the way.
If you ever find yourself in Nicaragua, and you need to find a certain shop, or place, just take a taxi. The taxistas are amazing!
A new and fitting saddle made
It took no more than half an hour to locate a saddlery where I could order a saddle to measure. After only three minor corrections, a saddle that fit Sony had been created.
After a week of rest, “on the rocks”, Sony’s sore back was healed, or so I thought. As I later found out, the problem ran deeper than was apparent.
A horse for Alexander the Great
With much excitement, Sony was saddled up, under the curious eyes of the stable staff and others. I cautiously mounted him, and sat down very lightly, just in case there were undetected sore spots on him still.
His comportment now was that of a new horse. No more starting, no attempts to rear. The staff looked on in awe! Sony had gained a previous reputation, as a Rebel, and now he seemed as tame as a lap dog.
My rep as a trainer was up
My rep, as a trainer, went straight from ?? to !!! There are some awesome “Jinetes” (riders) in Nicaragua, but now they were asking Me, an unproven stranger, ‘trick of the trade’ questions!
I admit, I had problems, maintaining a straight face as I rode off on Sony. His perfect 4beat Tolt, or Paso Llano, as Peruvians call it, was great, but his bearing was unmatched.
This was the noblest stallion, worthy of an Alexander the Great! Once out of sight, a ridiculously broad grin filled my face! Had I in fact been Alexander, I couldn’t have been any prouder.
Then it went downhill
From this happy hour it all went downhill. Riding a horse, I expect it to yield its best toward the end of the ride, but Sony started to tense up and lose the beat. Attempts to correct it only made it worse.
Finally, I decided he was tired and dismounted. The same pattern repeated itself each time. I asked Jose if Sony had been like that before and he confirmed it.
Perhaps he needed to improve his stamina I thought. Riding longer tours clearly had an adverse effect and I had to face facts. There was something seriously wrong with Sony.
The End of the saga
I finally called an English-speaking vet and explained my observations. He arrived in half an hour and examined Soñador carefully. Palpating the spinal cord, his jovial face suddenly darkened and he stopped.
“There’s a fractured vertebrae here”, he explained, in a low voice. My heart sank to the floor and you could have pushed me over with a feather.
“Lucky you called me today”, he continued. “Riding that horse, once more could have killed him.”
That was the end of my saga with Soñador. Complete rest, in the pasture, for a minimum of a year was prescribed and that was that.
So you have a fear of horses and riding? We all do actually! Fear is a sound reaction to danger. It’s what keeps us from getting badly hurt.
Panic is a different matter altogether. It debilitates us, and causes us to make bad decisions. Fear of horses is generally a controlled panic, induced by extended contact with them.
What’s the difference?
The difference between those who do ride, despite their fear, and those who don’t, lies in how they handle it. There is a remedy for every ailment and fear (or panic) of riding is no different.
Many things in our modern environment are dangerous. Traffic and electricity and staircases are just a few of them. Yet most of us don’t go around fearing these, altho many more people get hurt, riding a car, than in riding a horse.
Why don’t we then? Fear these things I mean. Think about it for a minute….
Well what kind of life would we have, if we allowed fear to rule us? Certainly a restricted one.
Rewards of fearlessness
The rewards for ignoring these fears far outweigh the reward of safety that avoiding traffic, or any other daily life dangers offers. That’s why we ignore the fear.
It’s the same for those who choose to ignore FoR, and ride anyway. To those who have a deep passion, for horses and riding, dangers involved simply become irrelevant.
Their lives, without riding, would become too dull and restricted. So they allow passion, rather than panic, to prevail.
Make horses your passion!
You can do the same. Here’s how. Make horses and riding your passion! Not a mere hobby, but a MUST in your life! Invest in it, prioritize it. Make it the most vital thing in your life.
Spend as much time as you can around horses. Studying them, make sketches of your favorites. Bonding with them is crucial in developing that deep love and trust.
As the weight of passion grows, fear loses its weight.
Be like a stable girl!
Look at the stable girls. They get up super early every day and ride their bikes to the barn. There, they muck out for a couple hours every day. Hard work, just so they’ll get to be around horses and ride, maybe a measly couple of hours per week.
That’s the kind of passion you need to develop, in order to become untouchable by fear! Learn to love all things horse, yes, even the smell of their manure!
Lie down in the stall with them. Just breathe in the peace that surrounds these gifts of happiness from the heavens.
I came close to quitting
At one time in my life I had developed a profound fear of horses. Twice in two months, I had been a hair’s breadth from being killed, and by two different horses to boot!
Read about it here:https://greatergaiter.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=49&action=edit
Sitting on the toilet one day, my bowels in a knot with sheer fear, I seriously considered quitting.
My Icelandic, Geysir, had almost got us both killed again, by bolting across the road, for the umpteenth time in a month!
Only my burning passion for horses, coupled with shame of quitting, saved me that day from giving up on riding.
I took control and you must too.
Horses may be out of control for any number of reasons. All of those reasons need to be mended and fast. An out of control horse is like a car, with the pedal glued to the metal, in other words, a recipe for disaster.
Stop riding, start teaching basics
What I did was stop riding for a couple of weeks. Until he had learned that I was the master, he was nothing short of a public menace! So we trained the basics, to walk and stop, immediately and on cue.
Once he had accepted me, as the leader of the pack all the problems soon vanished. With them my fear went down the drain too and he became my favorite.
The desensitizing business
If your fear was caused by the horse spooking and bolting, or bucking you off, you need to desensitize it, to all and anything that could possibly scare him.
Desensitizing is the tedious job of exposing the horse to scary stuff (spookers) until he ignores them.
Plastic sheets are popular spookers. Water hoses are even scarier. To many horses
they are nothing but water gushing vipers, in disguise. Mail boxes to have been known to send high-strung rides racing down a country road.
Don’t despair about Desensitizing
This desensitizing business may seem like an impossible task. I mean there must be an endless number of possibly scary objects, right? But don’t despair folks.
Luckily, in the process, the horse tends to rapidly grow in confidence. In truth, you may soon find yourself out of great spookers, to desensitize it to. Tractors and lorries, however, remain popular with most horses.
Autosuggestion will desensitize you
Fear, or rather panic, is a despot that wants to run your life for you. Fight it as you would fight a Dictator, trying to restrict your life by arbitrary laws!
is an established science. It has helped so many athletes reach their career goals. It can help you take charge of your fear as well.
Here’s how. Imagine different situations where your horse may get out of hand.
Say you’re riding thru a forest. All of a sudden, a wild boar charges at you. Scary yes? Your horse is ready to bolt for dear life, because you hadn’t desensitized it to these little piggies! But you, my dear, will have a plan, ready to employ!
This is tricky one, I know, but we’re just making plans now. We have plenty of time to get prepared.
You are prepared
Having googled the wild boar you know your enemy, a little bit at least. You know it’s probably a female coming at you. A Male is shy and would rather hide, unless he’s been cornered.
She’s probably got a litter stashed away nearby. She’ll not want to leave them alone for long, so the attack will not last long. You know too that a horse can easily outrun Mrs Piggy.
Knowledge gives you the edge on panic!
Good info to have. It means, chances are she will soon give up the chase. So there’s no need to panic. In fact there is never such a need.
You find an apple in the pocket of your windbreaker. Collect the reins now, just in case your mount is ready to race Mrs Piggy. Then gently throw the apple toward the sow.
Being a pig, if feral, she will likely slow down a little to investigate it. She does and you have time now to make an orderly escape. Fast canter is recommended.
Setting win scenes will change your brain.
You’ve set the scene for a panic inducing situation to be defused. Give it as much detail as possible, so it becomes believable.
Now embed this in your mind and rehearse it.
Your mind will record this as a win for you, where you didn’t panic, even in a high stress situation. Many such little wins will, bit by bit, toughen your mind. It will go from panic prone to solution prone.
Let a friend lead you to security
Here’s one last tool to help you eradicate the tendency to panic. Say you lost control of your horse. He bolted with you and now you’re feeling very insecure.
OK so you’re eager to get back to that sweet feeling of control. Right? You had it in your pocket, before the darn horse bolted with you. You’ll probably feel ashamed doing this, so pick a time when only you and your friend are around.
Ask a friend to lead you on your horse. Do you have the guts to do that?
If you like, plug in earphones and listen to soothing music, on the horse. Max relaxation is what we want. You will give it all over to your friend. Don’t do anything, except sit the horse, and following it’s rhythm.
That successfully done, you’ll progress, in little ants steps. The important thing is for you to feel totally secure in the progress. Next session you will just hold the reins as your friend leads the horse etc.
Your relaxed feeling, of security on horseback, will gradually erase your fears. Confidence and a feeling of security will keep growing, until you are ready to, once again, ride all on your own.
A bonus tool.
Employ your ANS- your Autonomous Nervous System. Snack while you ride! It helps keep you calm.
Let me tell you my mind was whirling, as I drove from Denmark to Sweden. Loading Bleikur onto the trailer had been surprisingly painless, but I knew what he was capable of.
I’m not ashamed to admit, I was scared of this compact 13 hh racer. All but the very bravest of you guys would have been too. Come on admit it.
A horse that easily plows thru solid fences is not going to think twice about breaking out of a trailer. So every time I heard a rumble, back in the trailer, my heart stuck in my throat.
I lost count on the number of times I had to stop and check that he hadn’t broken loose. The 8 hr journey ended well tho.
When we finally arrived at our destination, and had safely installed him in his cosy stall, I let out an audible sigh of relief. But this was to be my last day of safety, for a month to come.
A nightmare begins
Next morning my nerves had all but uncurled. A cautious optimism was my mood for the day. Yes friends, I know what you’re all thinking. What was I thinking
My only excuse is I’m an incorrigible optimist. Or should I plead insanity?
Oh and I was still only 25. I’m wiser now… I hope. Nah not really.
Now most people, I believe, tend to classify optimism as a positive quality. Little do they know! Optimism is often an accessory to manslaughter, I tell you!
Bleikur and I had a long chat,in his stall, where I laid out the law to him. Actually he was a sweet animal, from the ground at least. He even allowed me to put his head on my shoulder and he stood calmly as I was putting on his gear.
He had that cute, innocent look of the cuddly pony that people mistake Icelandics for. Had he in fact been a pony, his owners might have named him Winnie the Pooh, or maybe Paddington, he was that cute. Only with a rider on his back would his Mr Hyde side emerge.
I take it you’ve all read the classic horror story of the nice Dr Jekyll and his evil alter ego, Mr Hyde? No? Then you have a few cosy creepy hours of reading, waiting for you.
A horse quake
Bleikur stood like a statue as I mounted him. Only a slight twitching of his muscles alerted me to what was to come.
To this day I don’t know what he must have been thru to become that bundle of raw, rattling nerves.
As I gently cued him to a walk he took a few hesitant steps. A few more tentative strides and then he stopped, frozen to the spot.
Any sane person would have dismounted, when Bleikur began to quake, but then I never did claim sanity, did I? Like I said, I’m an incurable optimist!
Add to that, my earth moving love of horses and you may understand why I just sat there, waiting for the inevitable eruption!
And erupt he did. He just may have set a new world record, of acceleration, right there. My head was thrown back, like it was hit by a cannonball.
Again I was adrift, in a raging storm, as Bleikur bolted for all he was worth. I had read somewhere that cueing for more speed could help you regain control of the horse so I tried that. Sadly my horse had missed out on that part so no deal.
Scared to death, but thrilled
All round Bleikur was one of the fastest horses I ever rode. Part of my boiling brain took time out to be thrilled silly. His sheer power, going from full to double speed, was truly overwhelming!
In Iceland this hyper explosive type of horse is often named “Geysir”, you know this tall ray of hot water that, intermittently, erupts from the ground.
Again the cool, observing, part of my brain made a decision. I really would rename this raging ride, Geysir. I was so darn impressed with him, it all but drowned out the fear in me.
We were fast approaching the heavily trafficked main road, and heart-stopping fear was called for.
A no brakes horse-quake
I had learned, from my ride, in Denmark, that this ‘horse quake’ simply had no brakes on him. For that reason I didn’t even attempt pulling on the rains.
That lack of action may have saved both our lives. Had he been occupied with struggling against the reins, tossing his head right and left, he might have, fatally misjudged the speed of the fast oncoming car!
As it was, the car just missed us by a hands breadth. I glimpsed shear shining terror, in the driver’s eyes, as he flew past us. I’m confident he saw the same, reflected in mine.
A God awful, awesome horse
Bleikur didn’t even slow down for a split second. Again there was this weird pride sneaking up on me. What a God awful, awesome horse I had bought for myself!
I’m not sure I actually did laugh (a madman’s shrill laughter I suspect), but I sure felt like it!
Like a warm spring morning
You know that bubbly thrill that grips you on the first warm morning of spring. When the sun is blazing from a clear sky, and all bird-kind is tuning into the ringing jubilation of nature.
That’s how I felt, jubilant and so intensely alive, as only the narrowest escape from death can make you feel.
Why did I go on?
Those of you who have so kindly followed my fearsome first steps into the Gaited Horse world must wonder; how come I continued?! Right?
I’ll take your silence as a yes my friends. Well “intensely alive” is a major part of the answer. I’m probably a type A person, who only feels fully alive in the presence, or at least in the vicinity, of death.
Wow that was a drastic way of putting it, but there’s much truth to it. Another crucial part is of course the smooth gait, whether that be a Running Walk, or a Rack, or Tolt.
Hooked on Tolt and danger
I was hooked on Tolt already and the thrill of mortal danger only added to my fascination.
Bleikur galloped for a mile or so longer, but I sensed he was calming down. Adjusting my seat, I straightened up in the saddle and, wow there it was!
Looked something like this.
As if on cue, he broke off the canter, and just flowed into the sweetest, smoothest Tolt! The speed remained the same, but the knee action got much higher.
This was the first time he had offered anything but a fast gallop or a walk. The thrill of his super smooth Tolt totally enraptured me.
Bleikur had become Geysir now, my pride and joy, and I loved him to death already!
A huge smile glued to my face, I just sat drop dead still in the saddle, so as not to disturb Geysir’s perfect 4beat.This frviends is the meaning of bliss!
Geysir went back to school
Don’t worry friends; I’ll not bore you with the gory details of one month’s NDEs (Near Death Experiences). Finally, after countless, narrow, escapes from death I had had enough!
Geysir was going back to school. IF he had indeed been broken in, he must have played hooky two thirds of the time.
Lesson 1 a catastrophe
Geysir had no skills yet, but lunging seemed a good place to start. He disagreed and broke loose, leading me on a four hour long, wild goose chase.
That ended with him bogged down in a swamp.
Important lesson learned was that running away could end in catastrophe. After that Geysir never again bolted with me.
Starting from the beginning
I decided to start over, right at the beginning. We went over all the phases of breaking a horse in.
Leading, on a halter, and stopping on cue, took us a week to perfect. To stop and remain standing calmly was the problem.
Horses are flight animals, true, but Geysir was extreme.
When forced to stand still, he was so jittery you’d think he grew up among Zebras, on a Lion infested savannah.
So our progress was slow in the beginning, but I was in no hurry. The Tolt he’d showed me was well worth waiting for.
It was already clear to me that I had a first rate horse on my hands.
Never pull back on the bit.
Accepting the bit was the next possible stumbling block. When riding him I avoided putting any pressure at all on the bit.
It was just there, in his mouth. The reins weren’t even attached to it, but to a light halter, worn underneath the bridle.
After a couple weeks I fastened them to the halter and the bit both. Still I never pulled back on the bit.
When I finally fastened reins to the bit, Geysir had already learned to stop, on seat and thigh cues alone.
Six weeks after bringing him to Sweden we won our first competition, the basic dressage program, at the Nordic Championships in Norway. I couldn’t have been happier had it been the Grand Prix.
Geysir helped me develop my training module.
After training Geysir I have used the same method on all the horses I break in.
It produces a horse that’s feather light on the bit and also extremely responsive to the weight shift cues.
This is exactly how I want my horses. It also makes them easy to ride for inexperienced riders.
Given his extreme willingness (10/10) Geysir always remained a one man horse tho.
To me he was the Best Saddle-gaited Horse-On Planet Earth!