Maintaining the gait, or speed, of your horse is an essential part of being able to ride well. Your horse will be quite unpleasant, and even dangerous, to ride if you cannot control his speed. Maintaining the gait requires a basic understanding of correct riding position and commands as well as plenty of practice. If you are having trouble getting your horse to stay in one gait, you may need to enlist the services of a professional riding instructor or trainer.
Choose the gait you want. You do not want to spend more than 20 minutes steadily traveling in any one gait other than the walk unless your horse is specifically conditioned to do so. Cue your horse for the gait of your choice. Make sure he picks up the gait you have requested.
Focus on maintaining a consistent seat and hand position once you are in the correct gait. Your hands need to be low and steady, so that you are not accidentally telling your horse to slow down. Your seat needs to be firm and your back straight. Do not bounce on the saddle, lean forward or lean back.
Urge your horse forward with your leg if you feel him starting to slow down or break gait. A light kick every time your horse tries to stop should keep him in gait. If he keeps breaking gait, make him pick it up so he learns he cannot stop until you tell him to. Never let the horse decide when to change gaits. If your horse is trying to speed up, you need to apply pressure with your hands to tell him to slow down. If he is not slowing down, turn him in a circle and keep him circling until he settles into the speed you need. If you cannot get your horse to listen to you, call a professional instructor or trainer to help.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.