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Aids in conditioning the horse:

In addition to these exercises and riding techniques, there are some other things that can be done to help a horse develop the strength to hold his body in a non-pacing position. Although some of these have been used for years by those who also use shoeing techniques and devices to eliminate the pace, they are valid, non-artificial training aids.

Poles: Work over poles interferes with the flight path of a horse's hooves and can quickly convince him to stop pacing as he hits himself on them if he tries to do that gait. However, it also develops the muscles in the back and hindquarters and encourages the horse to hold his body in a less hollow position. Although gaited horses are likely to trot over poles, this exercise will not turn them into hard trotters. It does work to break up the pace, however, even in horses that are "wired" to do that gait.

The best way to work with poles is to spread out several series of two or three at intervals around the arena. Start with low poles, about 4 inches high, spaced about three feet apart. Encourage the horse to stretch his neck forward and down so that he can see the obstacles, then ride him over them at a walk. Gradually increase speed, until the horse starts to pace on open ground, then ride over the poles again. He will probably trot over them after hitting his hooves a few times, then return to the pace in between groups of poles. If he paces over the poles as well, you need higher obstacles-use railroad ties or regular cavallettis set at about 8 inches off the ground. Whatever you use, it must make the horse pick up his feet. In time, with practice, the horse will stop pacing over poles. It is then up to you to ask him to continue not-pacing without them, using the body repositioning techniques mentioned earlier.

Hills: Work up hills has also been a traditional method of getting rid of a pace. It works because for a horse to climb a hill he must balance to the rear and slightly round his back, getting rid of the hollow pace position. Most horse that pace on flat round will gait well up hill. Take advantage of this by asking for only a slow walk on the flat and pushing for speed in gait up hills. Not only will you be accustoming the horse to using the gait you want, you will be conditioning his back and body so that he can hold the semi-collected position more easily on flat ground.

Avoid asking for speed going down hi.., as that will throw the horse onto his shoulders, hollow his back, and encourage the pace.

Footing: Many horses lose the pace when they are ridden in deep or soft footing. Mud, sand, snow, plowed ground or deep grass can work to make a horse stop pacing because the surface delays the timing of his hooves and forces him into another gait. Soft footing also helps strengthen the muscles in a horse's legs, shoulders, hindquarters and back, since it is hard work to move over that type of ground. This increased strength will help him hold his body in a rounder, non-pacing position on a firmer surface. If it is not overdone, work in deep footing will help in curing the pace, but too much can cause damage to his muscles and tendons. Don't spend more than 5 minutes, every few days, riding over this type of ground.

The pace can be cured. If you condition a hors's body, train him to use it in a semi-collected position, and work with his mind by constantly discouraging the pace while encouraging his gait, he will eventually stop pacing under saddle. With time, he will also stop using the pace when he is not being ridden. His body will have been reeducated and repositioned away form the unwanted gait. You don't really need a trunk full of devices or a farrier who specializes in gait problems to train a horse to stop pacing and start working in gait.

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