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Gaited Horses

Questions and Answers with a Trainer

In response to popular demand for information on gaited horses, we have a new section of New Rider for you - all about gaited horses. Not only will we be profiling all of the most popular breeds, but we also have here an interview with Deborah Glover who is not only the one you keep hearing about on the message boards, but also happens to be a trainer/instructor who works with both gaited and non-gaited horses. This in addition to being a comic relief! She was kind enough to grant me an interview which gave me a lot of additional information on these very special animals:

Okay Debbie, first thing first. What exactly is a gaited horse?
Basically a horse that does not trot. Paso Fino, Peruvian, Icelandic, Rocky Mountain, Kentucky Mountain, Tennessee Walking, Spotted Saddle, Florida Cracker, Racking, Missouri Fox Trotter, some Morgans, some Saddlebreds, some Standardbreds. Just a list of most of the gaited horses. The gait these are noted for are all four beated gaits. There are four distinct footfalls.

In general, would you say that these horses are any easier to handle (ride) than any other horse? And why?
There are slight changes to handling, but it is easier because you do not have to bounce- therefore easier to stay on.

At the risk of sounding like an essay question, from an instructor’s vantage point, do you think that it is easier to teach students to ride gaited horses? How about nervous riders?
Yes and no. It is easier because there is not the balance to worry about, but each horse is an individual and some people have a hard time keeping the gait consistent. Some nervous riders are okay because they can stay on, but most gaited horses go faster than walk/trot horses.

Can anyone ride these horses?

Would you recommend a gaited horse as someone’s first purchase?
It depends on the horse and rider. Some I would say yes because they can be comfortable and learn to do other movements without being afraid of falling.

I’ve heard Tennessee Walking Horses described as, “The gentlemen of the horse world”. Do you agree with this statement?
Generally they tend to have a very gentle disposition, but just like every other breed there are nervous and calm dispositions.

A few questions about training. First, is it training or breeding that makes a gaited horse successful?
Both! Without breeding to put the ability to gait it is a long road to go to get it. Training puts consistency in the horse. Although I have bought one for my mother that the trainer I brought her to told us to sell her- she would not do what we wanted. What a challenge! It took us a year to get her in the show ring and place/win.

Do you think that they are any more difficult to train?
Not really- with most horses the hardest part is consistency. How to get only the gait/speed you want.

How do you start the initial training of these horses?
We start as babies as we show around 2 years old to break/halter. But any age will work.

If you are an experienced handler, do you need special training to bring on a gaited horse?
Patience! Lots of patience. Read all you can get! Get a great farrier! They can teach you more than you ever thought. But they cannot make you ride better.

What exactly is parking out?
Instead of squaring up, these horses are taught to spread their front legs out from their back legs and then lean forward.

Almost done. A couple of riding questions. How do you ride these horses in terms of style and such?
English (Saddleseat) and Western. But these horses can do anything; jump, endurance, cowboy stuff, trail ride, show, anything.

Do you need special equipment to ride these horses?
Depends on the horse, training, etc. Mostly no!

Last one. If you would, start our poll for us. Which do you prefer, gaited or non?
Tough question! I love riding smooth, but really use the Quarter Horse to do the stuff I used to do - barrel race, chase cows, my new self help- reining! But you know what? Gaited horses can do all of these too! So I am avoiding this question!

Thank you so much for answering all of these questions Debbie!

(Debbie Glover's website can be found at

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