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Questions About Gaited horses

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Questions About Gaited horses
  • I am researching horse breeds for my next horse. I have a 24 year old Appaloosa mare that I put into retirement over a year ago due to her COPD heaves she suffers all spring through fall. She has the Appy bad feet too so she's now a pasture pet. I've been looking for a horse but I have a few necessities due to health. My left knee is very limited in strength so no trots, but I think I can handle a slow jog. My research seemed to point to the possibility of getting a gaited horse because of their 'comfortable' rides. Any information, comments or recommended breeds would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  • Here in the United States when one hears about gaited horses it is usually the Tennessee Walking Horse or Paso Fino.  There are however several other breeds and several more that are native to the U.S.  

    One import that is gaining in popularity is the Icelandic Pony.  They're large, often Morgan sized, but still ponies with all that goes with it.  Their gait is called the Tolt or Flying Tolt.  Not as smooth as a Paso, but much better than any trot one would ride (or endure).  Below is a promotional video link:

    Then there's the single-footing horse, or North American Single-footing Horse.  They are supposed to travel with only one foot on the ground at a time (hence the name) and the average example of this breed can do this at about fifteen miles an hour, which is the same as a trot.  However, these horses are reputed to expend far less energy at their gait and are able to out distance other breeds easily.  They were bred for the Plantation owners who had to travel many miles a day supervising large land holdings, and to provide a speedy mount going to town, with the 'bottom' to return home as quickly.  I have never seen one on the West Coast.  My general experience is that these are rare horses outside of the deep south.  Below is a video describing this breed.

    Here's another Single-Foot Horse:

    These are the horses I know of that are available.  There are other breeds that travel with a gait, however many are so expensive as to be a novelty and rare.  The Single-Foot Horse is rare enough as it is.

  • I've looked at Morgans (my sister-in-law owns several), Tennessee  Walkers, Spotted Saddlebreds, and  Icelandic Ponies although the Icelandics are very expensive. My extensive experience working at and calling for judges at  horse shows led me to pretty much rule out Saddlebreds for me. Thanks for the info and I'll keep looking for a gaited horse!

  • Spotted Saddle Horse is different than Spotted Saddlebred, although, a gaited horse with spots of any breed can be a registered SSH, as far as I remember. I had a neighbor who breeds TWH/SSH, most dual registered.

    I've ridden some wonderful SSH's. I have friends who are really into Paso Finos.  My Standardbred has a saddle gait but it's not his first gait. He's a pacer.

  • OH! Don't forget Missouri Fox Trotters and... what's the other one. Rocky Mountain...something or other.

  • Out of curiosity, have you considered taking up driving your horse?  Much easier on bad knees (I have two) and bad back (several damaged lumbar).  If your relatives have Morgans, there is a good source to get a reasonable driving horse that can also be a lot of fun.  I assure you, Driving a horse can be far from sedate nowadays.  Then again, if all you want to do is potter around, that is available too.  Many Driving Clubs have both pleasure drivers and Competitive drivers as well.

    Also, if you have non-horsey friends, a turn around the block in a horse-drawn carriage is often a great experience for them.

  • Kentucky Mountain saddle horse and Rocky Mountain.

    I had a chance to buy a beautiful Rocky years ago but I was holding out for my Apps.