My husband James and I raise gaited horses in Quarter Horse country. Here in Central Texas you won’t find a lot of access to horse folks who understand or can help with Fox Trot gait.
When we first started, we were thrilled if we had a broken gait that wasn’t a pace. Then we sought out gaited horse trainers and found most were familiar with lateral gaits, but not the broken diagonal gait. Most knew Tennessee Walkers and training methods for that breed mainly. Here are some tips that, while not about technique, were very helpful to me when I was starting out.
- Gaited horses have LOTS of gears. Who new? When I started off on my journey, I thought the Fox Trotter would just fox trot instead of hard trot. Don’t be surprised if your Fox Trotter wants to do lots of different gaits. This does not mean the horse is not of good quality. In many cases, just the opposite.
I tend to like several of the easy gaits and a nice canter. You may like some gears better than others depending on your riding discipline. Two things to keep in mind: a pace or stepping pace are not healthy riding gaits for most horses; and if you’re showing, your horse needs to perform a correct flat walk and fox trot as demonstrated by the MFTHBA breed standard video.
- All gaited horse trainers don’t necessarily know about Fox Trotters. As mentioned above, they may train for more of a walking horse movement which in some cases can mean over-collection from the shoulder forward and a hollow back. To fox trot correctly, your horse needs to be relaxed.
Work to understand true collection, the body mechanics of your horse and what can cause variation in the collection. Once you’ve got that down you can understand how to move your horse through different gaits.
- Enjoy your horse and don’t worry about getting the gaits perfect when you begin. You may have a horse that run walks or fox trots perfectly, or racks – and you may not know which one it is doing for a while.
Learning about gait, conformation, and horsemanship is a fun journey. Treat it as such and enjoy the ride! There are many resources available for you to learn about gaits. Check out Facebook groups and your local MFTHBA affiliates for a start. You’ll meet amazing friends online and in person along the way.
And since having fun is the reason for riding, keep your focus on that and know that you look amazing on your magnificent Fox Trotter! Let’s Go Foxtrot!