Teaching an ex-pacer to trot/canter

Nov 26, 2007
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Is such a thing possible?

He's a lovely boy, and would be great to use in the riding lessons.. if he didn't trot so oddly. I think the term is a pacer, where he moves both right legs simultaneously and then both left legs; rather than moving them diagonally.
At the moment he's only hacking as normal schooling confuses him.

Everyone has been racking their brains as to how to reschool him, but so far we've come up with nothing. Someone we asked said it was impossible, theres no retraining a pacer.. but i thought i'd ask all the clever people on NR and see if anyone had any ideas
:) hope you can help
 

Megan :)

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Dec 25, 2007
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my pony sometimes paces and I have been told by many people that you should just circle them and they soon learn that it want get them very far. Also someone at my yard used to have a pacer and she has re-schooled him so it is not impossible.
 

levi1739

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I know very little about pacers. I am aware that pacers are "lateral movers" and thay they use big "rubber bands" between the front and hind legs so they don't break into a diagonal trot when they race. I do not know it they move laterally naturally or if the gait is forced by the "rubber bands". If your really interested in retraining one, I can talk to my Amish friend who trains standardbreds often. Let me know.


Have fun, be safe

Jack
 

iloveshearer

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Dec 2, 2005
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Shearer's a trotter and mainly just trots very fast! He has also paced a bit though. I've had him 3 years this summer and he's gone from very unbalanced with no co-ordination to a dressage and jumping pony! It's taken a long time and you have to be very patient with him because alot of the time he really is trying his hardest he just struggles! He'll get there eventually if you are patient! Good luck :)
 
P

Pink's lady

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Is he a standardbred? Not many other breeds pace.

Pace is a natural gait and you'll see them do it free in the field. Some STB are trotters, some pacers. The trotters only really pace when pushed into it, i.e when stressed.

Trotters aren't too hard to retrain to canter, pacers are very difficult usually! If they don't trot at all it's nigh on impossible.

It is a case of pracitise, praising lavishly when he gets it right and stopping him if he paces.

Get the normal trot sorted first before teaching canter.

Hacking is the best place to do it, or on the lunge. Taking him over poles really helps - they can't pace over poles well! (be very very careful to introduce them properly as many STB's find jumping and poles scary as they find them hard and keep knocking them).

Try and get him to work nicely in walk, in a good outline (a proper outline, not just his nose tucked in). It will give him the muscle and balance to do what is, to him, an alien gait. I'd stick with walk for a good couple of weeks (months) and practise trotting on hacks and on the lunge.

It can be done. Brodie was a trotter and couldn't canter at all. If he was pushed too hard to canter he would start to pace. He still finds canter difficult but over the years I noticed him starting to chose to canter in the field more and power trot less.
 
C

CER1389

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Personally I have found that pacers find small tight areas much harder to pace in, than a long open straight. We found our pacer will canter best on the beach. He can't keep up the pace for ever so will canter after the pace, then go trotty.

Pole work can really help. Make sure the horse isn't "too round", the rider must be supporting their mouth, but giving them enough contact to find their own balance.

Any canter they offer (whether asked or not) should IMO be praised for. They find it difficult to do, and must therefore be taught that it is a good thing. Remember to keep it slow too

Don't expect too much, too quickly! Their canter will never be a 'normal' horses canter. It was always be slightly pacey. However it can be greatly improved!
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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Yes, it can be trained out of them, and you can get trot and canter, but it can be a long road.
 

levi1739

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I knew I didn't dream this up. Hobbles are used with at least some pacers.

Hobblehangers
Hobble Hangers are straps that attach to the harness and hold the hobbles in place on either side of the pacers. Two hangers are near the front legs, one on each side; two hang down on the middle of the horse on each side and one hanger each is found behind the back legs on each side.

Hobbles (or Hopples)
Hobbles (also Hopples) are used to help a pacer maintain his gait. They are comprised of two loops, with an adjustable middle portion and they attach to the hobble hangers. The front loop is a bit smaller than the hind loop, and the horse's legs go through each. Trotting Hobbles have gained in popularity in the last decade, with the success of horses such as CR Kay Susie. On trotters, the hobbles fit around the front legs only, and are used to help steady the horse's gait.

The following link gives more info. about pacers equipt. There is a drawing of the hobbles in uses on a pacing horse.

http://www.oddsonracing.com/about_racing_equipment.cfm

Certainly not my thing but I've watched a lot of "sulky drivers" practice.


Have fun, be safe

Jack
 
Last edited:

Wally

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Trotting in long grass or deep sand often helps get a trot rather than a pace.

10 M circles in long reins with poles at the 12o'clock, 6, 9 and 3 can help too.

In general they find pacing up hill hard and trotting up hill easier, so ask for trot uphill to start with.
 
Nov 26, 2007
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thanks everyone these are great suggestions..

levi1739, yes thats what he used to wear when he was racing, thanks for the research! i didn't know it was called a 'sulky'!

will definately be patient, and keep you updated on progress!
 

lauren_&_della

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Jun 20, 2007
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mainly the stables
one of my old loans was an ex pacer, he did start to trot and canter on the lunge but found the left rein harder to go round ( think they go right on the track) he did start trotting and few strides of canter off the lunge but his owner started being funny and moved :eek::mad:
 

kittyrider

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Feb 6, 2008
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at last - I've found people into pacers - I started a new thread under "breeds" - I put " standardbreds" but no ones replied!!. I have one - had him 5 years, yes it is possible to retrain them (we event, sj, hunt) - dressage scores are never gonna be fantastic as he still paces when stressed / excited / confused but we're getting there. Basically I use really strong canter aids with my outside further back then on a 'normal' horse. Lots of lungeing and also long canters on hacks have helped. But enjoy the pacing too (expecially in laps of honour - really makes you stand out) as its nice to be different!!
 

kittyrider

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Feb 6, 2008
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"Their canter will never be a 'normal' horses canter. It was always be slightly pacey"

...I know - I dream of the day of getting a dressage sheet back without constant comments of "unbalanced in canter"....
 

Alex T

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Jun 27, 2006
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i had a standerbred pacer he was never really properly schooled i dont think anyway! i tried but he was very happy about it and used to pace on the bit (head in this shape)as he found it soo confusing . His pacing did get less but canter was hard for him and was always fast and unbalanced in the school having said that he had his own natural balance and was the most amazing showjumper !! Though he tended to pace around the ring when you first went in as he was excited this did lead to quite a few people telling me he was lame which was rather annoying!
 

Wally

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Lame or hurt his back, that's another one! :D :Dhave you ever seen a pacey horse try to jump a fence laterally?

It's hysterical. They try to jump left legs then right legs!
 

kittyrider

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Feb 6, 2008
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all the "hasn't he got a funny way of going?" comments and I've had that too people telling me he's lame, he's backs out etc. He's got a fantastic jump on him though and the extra paces come in handy if we get striding wrong coming up to a fence as he can pull some weird steps from nowhere and jump clean
 
W

wildspirit

Guest
Lame or hurt his back, that's another one! :D :Dhave you ever seen a pacey horse try to jump a fence laterally?

It's hysterical. They try to jump left legs then right legs!

I am sorry but this is complete rubbish. I have re-trained several pacers, one of whom has turned into a VERY promising SJ horse. ALL horses can be re-trained, regardless of their past. ANYONE who say's pacers/trotters cannot jump really have no idea what they are talking about.

To the OP - if you would like proper advice on this, PM me and we can always exchange msn addy's for a good conversation.
 
C

CER1389

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I am sorry but this is complete rubbish. I have re-trained several pacers, one of whom has turned into a VERY promising SJ horse. ALL horses can be re-trained, regardless of their past. ANYONE who say's pacers/trotters cannot jump really have no idea what they are talking about.

To the OP - if you would like proper advice on this, PM me and we can always exchange msn addy's for a good conversation.

Wildspirit, I don't think Wally meant that ALL pacers will jump laterally, but if you get an unschooled pacer who will approach in pace rather than a balanced canter, or one who is stressed/excited and trying to pace into a fence THEN they attempt to jump it laterally.

I don't believe anyone on here said pacers can't jump :confused: I know infact that asking our pacer to do raised trot and canter poles and small x poles has really helped his balance and get his legs sorted.

As for the issue of "proper" advice. I think that training something liek this is very horse dependent, and all advice is useful because different horses will respond to different things :)
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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Woooooooo, shut my mouth for talking rubbish! (holds up handbag and purses lips)

Wildspirit, I appologise that my experience of pacey horses is different to yours. Not sure I said they couldn't jump, but some of the really pacey horses (and I have had an awful lot) have tried to jump laterally. Did I say they couldn't be trained out of it? nope I don't think I did.

I have had horses who have been one gaited, Maganoo paced, he never trotted or walked or tölted or cantered once in his little life. And he went through several well respected trainers hands before giving up on him. You do get them, One gaited, pacey horses, who will not trot are out there. I have gaited horses who will offer trot over anything else and have needed other exercises to bring out the lateralness in them. I have worked with all kinds and everyhitng in between.

Kittyrider, I couldn't agree with you more, having gaited horses can get you out of all kinds of trouble as they are not "hard wired" to put their feet down in a set order. There have been times over rough ground that I have been left in hysterics and Frances is sat there asking "What was THAT!" when Hákon has done what we call the "drum roll", because thats what his sounds like on the road when he's slipped or taken a bad step and he finds a way through by putting feet down in a random pattern. They make you feel very safe at speed over rough ground.
 
W

wildspirit

Guest
Woooooooo, shut my mouth for talking rubbish! (holds up handbag and purses lips)
.

Comments like this from a moderator - doesn't set a good example to other "touchy" NR members now does it :rolleyes:

I state again all horses can be re-trained if people go about doing it the right way, suited to the horse as an individual.
 
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