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Unleashing the Jumping Potential of Gaited Horses: Training Tips and Challenges

Gaited Horses and Their Unique Characteristics

Gaited horses are popular among many horse enthusiasts for their smooth gaits and unique characteristics. Unlike non-gaited horses, which have a standard set of gaits, gaited horses have a variety of gaits, each with its own rhythm and pace.

Gaited horses are popular for trail riding as they provide a more comfortable ride for their riders.

The Unique Gaits of Gaited Horses

Gaited horses are unique because they have gaits that non-gaited horses don’t have. The most common gait of gaited horses is the lateral gait, which includes the running walk, the rack, and the paso fino.

The running walk is a flat four-beat gait with a lateral leg movement. The rack is a lateral gait that is faster than the running walk.

The paso fino is a lateral gait with a distinctive head nod. Gaited horses also have diagonal gaits, including the fox trot and the Tennessee walking horse.

The fox trot is a diagonal gait that is similar to the trocha gait. The Tennessee walking horse has a flat-footed walk and a running walk, which is a four-beat lateral gait.

The Mechanics of Jumping

Jumping is a complex movement that requires a significant amount of coordination and balance from the horse. Jumping can be divided into five different phases, including the approach, takeoff, flight, landing, and follow-through.

The approach phase involves the horse setting up for the jump. The takeoff phase involves the horse gathering its hindquarters and launching itself into the air.

The flight phase involves the horse arching its neck and pulling its forelegs up towards its chest. The landing phase involves the horse landing on its hind legs and then immediately bringing its front legs down.

Finally, the follow-through phase involves the horse continuing forward and onto the next obstacle. Can Gaited Horses Jump?

Despite their unique gaits, gaited horses can jump. However, due to their conformation and gaits, they are not typically used for jumping competitions.

Gaited horses have a higher head carriage and less power in their hind end, which can make jumping more challenging. Despite this, there are some successful gaited jumping horses, including American Saddlebreds and a horse named Pete.

Successful Gaited Jumping Horses

The American Saddlebred is a gaited breed that has been successful in both gaited and non-gaited competition, including jumping. The breed has a high head carriage and long neck, which can make jumping more challenging.

However, with proper training and development, American Saddlebreds can become successful jumpers. Another successful gaited jumping horse is a horse named Pete.

Pete is a Missouri Fox Trotter who was trained to jump by his owner, Ryan Yap. Pete has competed in both gaited and non-gaited jumping competitions, and his success has helped to showcase the athleticism and versatility of gaited horses.

Teaching a Gaited Horse to Jump

Teaching a gaited horse to jump requires a different approach than teaching a non-gaited horse. Gaited horses need to develop standard gaits before they can begin jumping.

Ground poles can be used to develop a more rhythmic gait, and training sessions can be designed to focus on developing standard gaits. Once a gaited horse has developed standard gaits, they can begin to work on jumping.

It’s important to start with small jumps and work their way up to bigger obstacles. Gaited horses also need to work on developing their canter, which is an important gait for jumping.

A strong canter is essential in providing the power necessary to clear a jump successfully.

Challenges of Jumping for Gaited Horses

Jumping can be challenging for gaited horses due to their conformation and unique gaits. Gaited horses have a higher head carriage, which can make it difficult to navigate jumps.

Additionally, their lateral gaits can make it challenging to maintain balance and rhythm when approaching a jump.


Overall, gaited horses can jump, but it may require more training and development than non-gaited horses. Developing standard gaits and a strong canter is essential in preparing a gaited horse for jumping.

Despite the challenges, with the right training, gaited horses can become successful jumpers and showcase their athleticism and versatility.

Training and Coordinating

Jumping is an exciting and challenging sport. For gaited horses, jumping requires specific training and coordination to prepare them for the challenges ahead.

In this article, we will discuss the foundational training needed before jumping, gymnastic exercises and pole work, the importance of short and relaxed training sessions, and focusing on developing standard gaits.

Foundational Training Before Jumping

Before a gaited horse can begin jumping, they need to have foundational training in place. This training involves developing the standard gaits of the horse, including the walk, trot, and canter.

A horse that is not adequately prepared with fundamental training may lack balance and coordination, which can lead to dangerous falls. A horse’s preparation for jumping should begin with a focus on their unique gait.

The gaited horse’s gait requires specific training to help even it out. The horse should be taught to lift its front legs evenly and to push off equally with its hind legs.

This foundation training will help the horse achieve a balanced rhythm, which ultimately assists with jumping.

Gymnastic Exercises and Pole Work

Gymnastic exercises and pole work are beneficial in preparing a gaited horse for jumping. Pole work is regarded as being the closest exercise to jumping.

It helps the horse learn to judge distance accurately, improves their rhythm, and encourages a more balanced gait. Gymnastic exercises are a series of obstacles that test a horse’s balance, coordination, and athleticism.

They are designed to teach the horse to clear the jump properly, distribute their weight correctly, and land safely. Gymnastic work is beneficial because it ensures the horse keeps the proper cadence, and it promotes the desired combination of characteristics needed for successful jumping.

Importance of Short and Relaxed Training Sessions

It is important to remember that gaited horses have unique gaits and abilities. Short and relaxed training sessions are beneficial because they allow the horse to process what they’ve learned and to conserve energy.

If training sessions are too long or intense, it can lead to frustration and over-exertion, which can strain the joints. Short and relaxed sessions allow the horse to have a positive experience and build their confidence gradually.

The focus of training should be on helping the horse acquire strength, balance, and coordination. This goal is achievable with patience and consistent training.

Gaited horses can become successful and proficient jumpers with the right training program.

Focusing on Developing Standard Gaits

Developing standard gaits should be a significant focus when preparing a gaited horse for jumping. A gaited horse can be naturally pacey, which can hinder their jumping abilities.

Focusing on developing trotting and cantering abilities will help the horse improve their rhythm and balance. The trot is a two-beat gait that is asymmetrical to the running walk.

Practicing the trot helps build the horse’s strength and balance. Canter work is essential for gaited horses, as it helps to improve their balance, increases their muscle strength, helps the horse become more symmetrical, and develops their powers of momentum.

Tips and

Final Thoughts

Safety Precautions for Jumping

Safety precautions are crucial when jumping a horse. The rider and horse should always wear appropriate safety gear, including helmets and protective boots.

Ensure the jumping area is appropriately equipped, the surface is safe, and there is adequate lighting. Jump heights need to be graduated to avoid stressing the horse’s limbs, and jump frequency limited to prevent over-exhaustion.

Understanding Your Horse’s Unique Abilities

Understanding your horse’s unique abilities is essential when preparing them for jumping. Gaited horses have unique gaits and forms, and their bodies handle jumping differently.

It is important to take these factors into consideration when planning a training program.

The Importance of Confidence Building

Developing the horse’s confidence is a significant aspect of gaited horse jumping. Confidence building starts with foundational training, including ground work and gradually introducing more challenging exercises.

Confidence building helps the horse become more comfortable with challenging obstacles, creating a positive experience that supports their overall growth.

Final Thoughts

Gaited horses can be proficient jumpers with the proper training and preparation. Foundational training and developing standard gaits are critical components of a successful training program.

Short and relaxed training sessions, gymnastic exercises, and pole work can help the horse become balanced, agile, and confident. Patience, consistency, and a focus on the horse’s unique abilities will help the horse become successful at jumping.

In conclusion, gaited horses can successfully jump with proper training and preparation, including foundational training, gymnastic exercises and pole work, short and relaxed training sessions, and developing standard gaits. Safety precautions, understanding the horse’s unique abilities, and confidence building are essential elements to consider.

Don’t forget to focus on the horse’s individual needs and abilities when planning a training program to ensure their success and happiness.



Can gaited horses jump at all? Yes, gaited horses can jump with proper training and development of their foundational training and standard gaits.

2. How do I train my gaited horse for jumping?

Training a gaited horse for jumping involves developing standard gaits, gymnastic exercises and pole work, and short daily training sessions. 3.

Is it safe for gaited horses to jump? Yes, it is safe for gaited horses to jump with appropriate preparation, safety gear, and gradual increases in jump height and frequency.

4. Are there any challenges in training gaited horses to jump?

Gaited horses have a higher head carriage and less power in their hind end, which can make jumping more challenging, but with proper training and development, they can overcome these challenges and become successful jumpers. 5.

How do I build my horse’s confidence in jumping? Building a horse’s confidence in jumping starts with foundational training, progressively challenging exercises, and a positive training experience.

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