advice on gaited horses


New Member
Mar 19, 2005
Northern California
This is a bizarre one--I just found out that our new lease can gait. I didn't expect this, she is a paint not a paso fino or saddlebreed. She doesn't do it in the arena but she does when hacking out. I wasn't sure at first, so I asked the owner. She said "We tried to train her not to but she still does when ridden on a trail" Does anyone have experience with this ?(I didn't even know what a gaited horse was until I moved to the US) Her foxtrott is very comfortable but I am not sure what to do with this. My trainer says to sit it out, leaning further back then in regular trott. Are there separate aids to get them to stop and start doing this?


pAin't Nobody's Bidness
Nov 12, 1999
South Carolina, US
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I don't know anything about riding gaited horses, so can't help you there, sorry. But is it possible your girl is a Spotted Saddlehorse? I ride with one who looks just like a little paint horse until she starts moving. :)


Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
Don't know about American gaited horses, but I assume the basics are the same. I expect she gaits when she collects up and gets excited or is just enjoying herself.

In very general terms to get an Icelandic to tölt you need to ask with your weight and seat a bit further back, collect and ask for them to go forward while keeping a firmer contact than you would for trot. If you want a trot then you allow the reins to drop slightly and take your weight onto the front edge of your seatbones instead. You might have to exaggerate this to start with, but soon the horse will feel the tinyest move from you and trot or tölt at your request.

This is very, very general Icelandic technique, they are all so different, some find it easier to tölt from a walk, others from a trot, others from a canter, some prefer slow tölt others fast. Play with her gaits and see what she offers and see when she offers it then use this to your advantage.

Randalín is offering a mega tölt out of canter at the moment, so we are using this to our advantage and taking the fast gait where offered and slowing it down, some horses you have to do the opposite.


New Member
Mar 19, 2005
Northern California
Thanks for the comments. That was my thought, too, she must be a spotted sattle horse. But the owner said that when they bought they were shown both parents and siblings and she is not a saddlebreed. However, the owner also said it must come from somewhere, so maybe somewhere down the line, there was a breeding with a saddle horse. Wally, I had no idea that Icelandics do this but I tried what you said and it works, that seems to be the trick. Thank you so much!!

TWH Addict

Old but frisky!
Aug 15, 2004
Hope this helps!
Sit with your back straight, and let your legs hand down slightly behind the girth. Tip your toes up and shorten your stirrup leathers until the stirrup is just above your toe. Flex your knee slightly so that your toe slides into the stirrup, but your heel is still below your toe, keeping an easy comfortable contact with the stirrup. Your leg should still be relaxed and you should be sitting on the horse, not half-standing in a crouched position, waiting to have to post. In case you haven't already, now is the time to relax. Sit quietly on your horse, until you feel all the tension ease out of your body, and you are comfortable.

Balance is maintained more with the upper thigh, than with the knee and the calf. Apply no pressure with your lower leg unless you are cueing for a gait change. It is not necessary to hold onto the horse with your legs, as these gaits are very smooth, and do not dislodge the rider.

Your hands should be held so that there is a fairly straight line from your elbow to the corner of the horse's mouth. Keep your hands soft enough so that when the horse nods his head as he is doing his gait, the natural action of the neck shakes your hand up and down like a handshake. Do NOT attempt to set your horse's head by cresting it at the poll, as you will shorten its stride and reduce the comfort to both horse and rider. Take only enough contact on the reins to feel the bit, and be ready to give more rein to accommodate the depth of your horse's nod. Do NOT attempt to pump or pull its head into a more exaggerated nod that it is producing naturally. Most Tennessee Walking Horses are ridden on a direct rein, although they can be taught to neck-rein just like any other horse, if you prefer.

Sit back and enjoy the ride :D
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