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Inconsistent Gait Correction

I recently heard of a lesson pony who upon landing a jump will occasionally shift into high gear and bolt becoming extremely difficult to control.

It is used for beginners and needless to say his erratic explosive gaits are very unwelcome. Only the barn's most experienced riders are allowed to ride him. Apparently after a couple of session with advanced riders he becomes somewhat controllable. With the beginners, not so much. It seems beginners are the slot he's placed in.

Most barns are geared to riding. People go there to learn riding. The horses are bought into the lesson program to ride. Riding lessons are often a major source of barn income. Lesson horses are supposed to be trained and suitable for riding lessons, not horsemanship lessons. Oh, riders consider riding to be horsemanship but in essence most are merely mannequins, or robots, you sit on the horse according to the proper form. The percentage of horse people who consider themselves to be good riders who will sit on a horse without a saddle is very slim. The idea horrifies them.

They may understand technical riding but they are usually at a loss when the horse is not technically responding.

When all you have is a hammer, every problem that pops up is a nail.

The question in this situation is "How do I stop him from landing the jump with his afterburners ignited?"

I can very often simply look at a horse and tell you why the horse is not doing well at an activity such as jumping, roping, cutting, or the like. In the case of the subject horse I have no idea what it looks like so we'll deal from a training standpoint. Training horses with physical problems can be very frustrating.

Wearing him out is one way. Just keep at it until he tires of it. That could grind someone's patience to a fine powder. He may even better and more dependent at bolting.

Another way is instilling the basics in him.

Most barns don't do a whole lot of basic training because basic training is not riding.

Usually when I suggest ground work the dismissive reply is, "Oh, he's a dream on the ground, he leads fine, you can groom him, no problem!"

By ground work I mean being able to get the horse to do anything from the ground that you want it to do from its back. I basically recommend, "If you can't, don't get on it.

I believe 98% of the horses in this country are not rideable and 98% of those who are rideable are not trained, they are happy mediumed. As long as neither horse or rider don't do anything that the other party can't live with, they consider the horse trained. If the horse does something beyond their skill set the horse is usually replaced.

There are two possibilities in almost every horse problem. Either the horse is not trained or the horse has a physical problem which can be caused by a condition within the horse or by a rider's actions.

The first thing to examine is the horse's conformation. Is it physically able to do what is expected of it?

I know of a riding program that concentrates on jumping. They are always going through horse after horse to see whether or not the horse will jump. To them, all horses are jumpers, some just jump better than others. I have seen them go through conformational nightmares unsuited for the demands of jumping only to keep looking.

If a horse does not have flowing lines, it will not flow over the jumps. Oh, it may jump for awhile but sooner or later it will start evading in some manner.

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