I am not prone to teaching "tricks" to my horses. But I do find myself vocalizing for gaits, as it seems to remind me to use a different rhythm in each gait. For example, I think 1-2-3-4 for the walk. I think 1-2 1-2 for the trot. And I think 123 123 for the canter. And I try to ride with that rhythm and ASK for that tempo while round penning.
I also say "WAALK" at the same time I ask for a walk in the round pen. I say "tRRROT" for the trot. And finally, I say "canTER" for the lope. "Woah" is reserved for stopping. Everything I say is accompanied with the appropriate change in energy and position relative to the drive line, to achieve the desired gait, followed by a release of pressure once the horse is in the appropriate gait. Make sense?
And while I don't think I want my horse responding to just my voice, it does seem to help us both figure out which gait I am asking for. It helps to lead to consistency, in my opinion. Also, I'm not incessantly kissing to my horse for more energy. I just repeat my voice command. And it is more readily apparent to me if I am asking more than once for a gait when I vocalize the gait I'm after, instead of realizing after the fact that I've been kissing for the canter for 3 revolutions around the round pen! I want my horse to go into the gait I've asked for the FIRST time I ask for it, not the 4th or 5th time.
Well, the grullo has really picked up on this. Yesterday, I was too pooped to ride, after mucking stalls and spending 2 hours on the tractor spreading manure. But I did want to work a horse, so I round penned the grullo. He is round penning MUCH better, and yesterday was his best effort ever. And he was going into gait on my voice. We did a lot of gait transitions: walk, trot,canter, trot, walk, canter, etc. He is maintaining his gait much better and with a good tempo. Afterward, we did some longeing, and he is yielding hindquarters better. Overall, he is showing REMARKABLE progress. Truly, he is one of my "quicker" horses.