Virtual Gaits

Training Journal

If you’re riding a horse, you’ve already won.


Awareness of the outside world. Year for the first Black members of Congress? 1870. U.S. Capitol Visitor Center: The Second American Revolution. Lithograph by Currier & Ives Library of Congress: The first colored senator and representatives – in the 41st and 42nd Congress of the United States.

The ride is virtual. The gaits are real. Our trail walks around the pasture have become trail walk & trots, with even a dollop of canter.

Milton’s Walk
Milton putts along with the rider’s reins on the buckle. His neck is stretched out, with a sweet curve that says he’s relaxed but interested in his environment. Ears are perked.

Milton’s Trot
When he is trotting behind, Milton’s face bears an adorably earnest grimace as his feet fling about in an effort to catch up with Rodney. When Milton is in the lead, I watch the several false starts it takes to get trotting.

Rider: Milton trot!

Horse: Hums quietly to himself. Walks along.

Rider: Milton trot!

Horse: How would you feel about a fast walk?

Rider: Milton trot!

Horse: Not a fast walk. Okay, then, trotting it is.

Rider: Milton trot!

Horse: Keep your shorts on. This is a trot. Kinda.

Milton’s Canter
Right at the top of one hill, Milton threw in a few strides of canter, using momentum as an aid to hauling himself up the slope. The last time Milton’s rider cantered may have been a dressage test with Mathilda in the 90s. Driving? He’s a cantering fool. Riding? Not so much. Everyone did great.

Rodney’s Walk
Rodney is not stupid. He learns plenty fast. However, it takes him forever to accept a new concept. The processing time is long. He was just starting to get the idea that he could stroll along, think his thoughts, watch the scenery. The ears were just starting to reach a happy place. Then we added trotting.

Rodney’s Trot
Rodney is pouting.

He is learning a trail trot, i.e. a slow jog to stay behind Milton when we are following or not get too far ahead when we are leading.

Technically, he is perfect. Loose rein. Good speed. Maintains the pace. Artistically, he is doing everything he possibly can to misbehave while still being correct. Trotting with a sideways bend in his neck. Acting sullen. He’s convinced this is a horrible new thing and that he will hate it.

He’s not bored. During our stand exercises, this horse would stand for 20 minutes or more admiring the world around him. He’ll get there with trotting around the pasture. Eventually. [Switching Horses]

Rodney’s Canter
At one point we got far enough behind Milton that I asked Rodney if he wanted to canter. We lasted 5-6 strides and dropped back to trot.

He does the same thing in the ring. He will try to break into a canter, particularly around a corner. ‘I don’t want to trot. I must canter.’ Sometimes, I say no. Sometimes, I let him. He canters maybe a quarter of the way around the ring. ‘Okay, enough of that. I’d rather trot.’

(Actually, the best times are when I stay centered and we keep our balance and he doesn’t feel the need to threaten/offer to canter. But that’s a different story.)

Spooking and Fussing
Milton got a wee bit overwhelmed trotting uphill while simultaneously slaloming though the trees. He felt the need to express himself. Rider not fazed. Says he’s dealt with that maneuver many, many times on longlines.

Rodney did not like the look of the red cart seat that he walks past multiple times a day. No sir, he did not like the look of it at all. In his defense, the red was remarkably bright in the sunlight.

Both of them objected to trotting in tall grass.

The Joys Of Riding Thoroughbreds
I doubt real Tevis horses have this many thoughts about what they are being asked to do. A horse would be exhausted if they keep this up for 100 miles.

[VTevis archives]

Stay safe. Stay sane.
Katherine Walcott

7 thoughts on “Virtual Gaits

  1. Most of the Tevis winners have been Arabian or part-Arabian, altho I admit it’s been some time since I checked. Not the show-ring peacocks, but the older type that have been bred for centuries for endurance, the ones who can do just about anything you ask of them.

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