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Tölt at the same level as piaffe?

Many riders with gaited horses think they don’t need to do the ‘common’ dressage exercises, because they practice other gaits.

But a gaited horse is just a horse, it has the same muscles and the same bones and the same asymmetry. And no horse is made to carry a rider – no matter what breed, no matter if it’s a gaited horse or not – because by nature most weight is on a horse’s fragile fore legs.

So all core exercises of ST are needed for any kind of (gaited) horse to help the horse transform from natural balance – the picture on the left where the horse is caryring more weight on the front legs – to artifical balance – the picture on top of the ladder, where the horse is carrying more weight on the hind legs. And this rebalancing can take place by transforming the ability from the hind legs from ‘pushing’ ability to also a ‘carrying’ ability.

Now for a clean tölt you need free shoulders and hind legs that are equally strong. That’s why tölt is at the same level of piaffe.


Because if a horse is asked too early for a high position with the head and neck in the tölt, the hind legs are not able to carry the weight, the topline muscles will be too weak, the horse will drop or stiffen the back, he’ll start pushing with the hind legs, and the weight of the horse and rider will shift even more towards the front legs. Then common ‘gait’ issues pop up such as lack of clean gaits, mixing gaits, rhythm problems, ‘hops’ in the front legs and stiff movements.

So if a rider is facing rhythm issues and stiffness in a certain gait, the core exercises on the ladder – circles and lateral movements – are the key to solve these issues, because it addresses the root of the problems: the asymmetry in body and hind leg. When the horse is not able to evenly stretch the body to both sides and he’s not evenly strong in the hind legs the circles, shoulder-in and haunches-in will solve this. Because in these exercises the horse is asked to stretch one side of his body and to train one hind leg separately, which makes us able to isolate a weak part of the horse and to train it separately. So that’s why the circle, the shoulder-in and haunches-in are the corner stones of all gymnastic exercises.

So avoid doing the ‘names’, but know the WHY behind these exercises, and then you’ll understand that also the Icelandic horse, the Paso Fino, the Mangalarga Marchador, the Saddlebred, the Campolina, the Tennessee Walker, the Fox trotter and the Single footer will benefit from these exercises: their body will be able to bend to both sides and their hind legs will develop equally in strength and they will develop equal shoulder freedom, so they can perform all gaits in a clean way.

So by following the logical order of gymnastic exercises, any horse can start to bend to both sides and learn to bend the hind legs equally and then he can carry the rider in a balanced and healthy way and move in a supple and rhythmical way, no matter what gait.

Now if you have a gaited horse and want to know more about this, please join our brand new ‘Straightness Training with Gaited Horses’ Facebook group, where you can share your experiences with other owners of gaited horses.

Just click this link and do a request to join:


And don’t forget to check the article about how to develop clean gaits:

Click HERE for the article about Horse Gaits and Gaited Horses >>

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