Gaited horses are genetically bred to gait and if this is true we shouldn’t need special bits, shoes, etc, to get them to do what their genes tell them. Trueness of movement and relaxation are closely linked. To maintain the softness of relaxation, the horse must stay within his realm of true movement. The training process should result in an enhanced gait, not one whose fundamental structure has been changed.
Over the years the concept that relaxation be paramount in all training has been obscured by a more mechanical style of training. Riders are often in a rush to make horses gait and neglect basic foundation work. Many riders attempt to obtain gait by driving the horse forcefully into the hand. Riding in lightness challenges the rider to train without creating false movement.
We must train our horse not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Horses express their emotions often by tensing up physically against outside stimuli, including any form of contact with the handler. Getting relaxation so we can teach a correct response, instead of putting a piece of equipment on the horse to persuade him. Depending on the severity of the equipment and the riders hands or temperament, the horse reacts or responds. Horses that react are not as reliable or consistent as those that learn to respond to subtle cues. Crisis management is not management. It leaves many victims in its path.
Depending on the level of training you want your horse to have, most people should be able to put a “basic handle” on their horse. That means you should be able to get your horse to the right place at the right time with the least amount of effort.
Renowned gaited horseman since 1980, Larry was very successful in the show ring, winning regional, national and grand national championships. In 2002 he was trainer of the year. He has held judges cards in several gaited breeds.
Initially, he trained using the traditional gaited horse methods, thinking these were the only way to yield gait. As his training progressed he wanted to train gaited horses to a higher level so they would gait for any level rider and the riders could count on them to be safe and dependable. In his quest to learn correctness and lightness, Larry began studying classical dressage in the early 1990’s from contemporary masters who had studied under Nuno Olivera and at classical schools in Europe.
Classical training teaches the horse to rebalance itself into a relaxed frame of collection, engaging the hind legs. Engagement of the hind legs, whether false or real is what makes a gaited horse gait. Larry learned to bring horses into a more classical frame to gait. When you strengthen the correct muscles, the horse can carry a rider and rebalance into natural collection.
Larry learned in short order that horses were more consistant in their gait and could perform gaits with a wider range of speeds when classically trained. Correct training builds confidence in a horse.
Natural horsemanship puts a great foundation on horses and prepares the horse mentally and physically to begin training for collection. Classical training then takes communication with the horse to the next level of lightness. Most gaited horses only need a mild degree of collection to gait.
Larry continues his education each year from classical dressage instructors. He travels the U.S. and Canada doing clinics and equine expositions. His goals are to help people understand what makes gaited horses gait so we can spare the horses from some of the training myths attached to the gaited world that are not in the horse’s best interest. By making things better for the horse, the horse will be smoother, safer and more dependable for riders.
Larry teaches you how to teach your horse to relax so you can teach a correct response with the least effort. He teaches you how to teach your horse to respond to subtle cues. His clinics are a shot in the arm for your riding program providing very intense instruction to all levels of riders on their own horses that instills an eagerness you will carry with you so you can further your relationship with your horse at home.
There is no limit to auditors, but clinics are usually limited to 12 riders depending on the facility. You will learn the most by bringing your horse. Your skill level does not matter. However, the horse should be able to handle an arena situation. If you have a very green horse, you would be better to come to a 5 day clinic at the farm in Cookeville. You will be working with your horse about 6 hours per day. It can easily be handled by horse and rider. You will learn many exercises that can be done at home, to help your horse steer and gait better. After the weekend, your horse should turn on the forehand and haunches, move off your leg, and have better footwork. You will learn the beginnings of collection. Individual situations will be looked at.
We also have several 5 day clinics at our farm in Cookeville, TN. You can bring your horse or use one of ours.
Whitesell Gaited Horse training barn is located just outside Cookeville, Tennessee. It is 60 miles East of the Nashville International Airport on I-40, and 90 miles West of Knoxville. We are a 4 hours drive from Atlanta, Georgia.
Directions: Off Interstate 40, take exit 280, go north for 2.3 miles then turn right onto US 70 N/Nashville Hwy. Travel for .8 miles take a right onto Lance Drive and we are 1/2 mile down on the left.
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For more detail, please use our on-line contact form or call us today at 931.858.0658!