Gaiting- How do you make them do it???
More like how do you stop them!! Most gaited horses are born gaiting. Gait was part of what horses used to do before man bred it out in favour of a flashier looking trot with the advent of the carriage. It is not new, -its old! It's the same movement you can see in a smaller dog like a terrier or a Jack Russell when they look like they're moving like a millipede and you just know it's not trot! Their anatomy is very different to 'normal' horses....their point of hip is much higher up on their body, their spine and thus the rib angle is much deeper down. They may appear, to the uninitiated, to be leg movers, but their back is anything but rigid: The quadrant of muscle controlling it is greater in volume or depth, than a 'normal' horse. It is a fluid, flexible cabling system , designed to used with the intra- and supra- spinous ligaments accommodating in slack, unlike bascule. The spinous processes are longer, which means that for the same degree of spinal flexion, there is more strain on the infra- and supra-spinous ligaments, which is why their bodies are not designed to work in prolonged deeper flexion. More than one, that I know, has suffered damage to these ligaments by someone trying to work them in that way. Their neurology is set up differently....gait genes allow for independent movement of each leg, and are missing the neurological link that pairs diagonals like in trot. On top of gait genes, there are gait modulator genes: at one end of the scale we have Missouri Foxtrotters who are nearer the trottier/more diagonalised end of gait and need to work in a neutral to very slightly rounded shape; and at the other we have more lateral breeds and Hard Pacers who have the most lateral pairing of legs , who need to work on the hollow side of neutral to be correct for their anatomy and neurology. They are super smooth to ride as there is no moment of suspension....only a rolling transfer of weight in the same pattern as a walk. The best gaited horses are often compact. bigger is not better. Below is my own, GLAMUR FRA PENTLAND, a beautiful blue dun icelandic, bred by Jill Noble at PENTLAND HILLS ICELANDICS. He is being ridden by someone who had never ridden a gaited horse before, while experiencing the 'Icelandic Grin'!! :)