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  1. #1
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    Default Exercises for a disorganized lope

    Just curious what people do to help get their disorganized horse at the lope more finished for the show ring. All my western pleasure friends have suggested training aids, but I don't really want to go that route. He picks up the lope going both directions fine, but he will go from a slow, collected jog to head in the air, body all over the place lope. Space is limited to 20 meter circles due to jumps always being up in all the arenas and I getting in trouble if I touch them.
    Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
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  2. #2
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    The answer is the same as for any horse, any discipline - work on it slowly and stop with the circles. All that circling does the horse's mind no good, get out and ride in a straight line and use natural obstacles to turn him around. Work at all gaits and he will eventually get it.
    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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  3. #3
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    Does he lope better at faster speeds, not hand gallop, but faster than show ring wants to see?

    I see loping problems when horse doesn't KNOW HOW to manage himself well in a gait. I don't slow them down a lot until horse is good with reins and legs giving him signals he can respond to. A lot of the slow going is a balance and coordination thing. A young horse may not have learned how to balance or carry his rider at those slower speeds and keep his legs right! He can learn bad habits, troping, trotting in front, walking behind, if he doesn't have good BASIC gaits down well first. He needs to be doing a TRUE trot, a TRUE canter, though they may not be slow right away.

    Horse needs to build muscle to do that slow stuff, can't expect a green horse to have the ABILITY when he is just starting his riding career.

    So I would probably back up, do some ground work in a round pen rather than lunging. You don't want the line pulling his head into the circle, you want natural, self-carriage as he balances himself to do the gaits. Get him cantering on voice command, both ways, at a moderate, NOT going for slow yet, speed. Is horse COMFORTABLE going at a canter? Not having tangled legs, or not synchronized in his movement? If he is good at this faster speed, no issues, then you should try riding him at this speed, see if horse can STILL go smoothly with a rider. If not, then rider balance or weight could be putting horse into problems. If horse is smooth at the faster speed, then he needs to be worked to develop muscling to enable him to go slower, coordinated in his legs and body.

    So his daily riding will need both faster canter work, a BIT of slower work in short sessions of 30 seconds, then speed him up again. Lots of slow and faster, so he is not worn out trying to go slower. Double benefit of horse being GREATLY adjustable in speeds, and not working just a few of his muscles at only one speed.

    Even if horse is not young, he may never have been developed well, to build the needed muscles for self-carriage in slower gaits. That is NOT a baby kind of movement, you have to "build the horse muscling" so horse is comfortable working that way, not falling apart or hurting when you ask him to do that stuff.

    Again, you start with horse doing TRUE gaits, trot, canter, then develop his muscles with short sessions of slow, back to faster speed in the gait, so you are keeping him from hurting. He has to have that muscle to hold himself together, so he can work easily for you. Doesn't happen in a week or 30 days, but you should be seeing improvement in his ability to move well, if you work him regularly by the end of the 30 days.

    Too many folks are afraid to move a horse out in the trot or canter, let him do his true gaits WELL, before they have him trying that show ring stuff of almost no forward progress. Going so slow starting out, is hard on him, can easily mess up his way of going when he can't go forward the way horses are designed to go. Holding himself in such an artificial body position can be painful.

    Hope this is helpful. Yep, it is slower than going with "tricks", but you end up with a better trained, muscled-up horse who is a LOT more adaptable, capable, to do your requests. A horse who can go with a bit of speed when asked, slow when asked, has the muscling for self-carriage, is a better horse you can enjoy in your riding activities. Probably a big help with a better brain because speed or CHANGE in routines of riding, are nothing to get excited about, wherever he is being ridden.


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Does he lope better at faster speeds, not hand gallop, but faster than show ring wants to see?

    I see loping problems when horse doesn't KNOW HOW to manage himself well in a gait. I don't slow them down a lot until horse is good with reins and legs giving him signals he can respond to. A lot of the slow going is a balance and coordination thing. A young horse may not have learned how to balance or carry his rider at those slower speeds and keep his legs right! He can learn bad habits, troping, trotting in front, walking behind, if he doesn't have good BASIC gaits down well first. He needs to be doing a TRUE trot, a TRUE canter, though they may not be slow right away.

    Horse needs to build muscle to do that slow stuff, can't expect a green horse to have the ABILITY when he is just starting his riding career.

    So I would probably back up, do some ground work in a round pen rather than lunging. You don't want the line pulling his head into the circle, you want natural, self-carriage as he balances himself to do the gaits. Get him cantering on voice command, both ways, at a moderate, NOT going for slow yet, speed. Is horse COMFORTABLE going at a canter? Not having tangled legs, or not synchronized in his movement? If he is good at this faster speed, no issues, then you should try riding him at this speed, see if horse can STILL go smoothly with a rider. If not, then rider balance or weight could be putting horse into problems. If horse is smooth at the faster speed, then he needs to be worked to develop muscling to enable him to go slower, coordinated in his legs and body.

    So his daily riding will need both faster canter work, a BIT of slower work in short sessions of 30 seconds, then speed him up again. Lots of slow and faster, so he is not worn out trying to go slower. Double benefit of horse being GREATLY adjustable in speeds, and not working just a few of his muscles at only one speed.

    Even if horse is not young, he may never have been developed well, to build the needed muscles for self-carriage in slower gaits. That is NOT a baby kind of movement, you have to "build the horse muscling" so horse is comfortable working that way, not falling apart or hurting when you ask him to do that stuff.

    Again, you start with horse doing TRUE gaits, trot, canter, then develop his muscles with short sessions of slow, back to faster speed in the gait, so you are keeping him from hurting. He has to have that muscle to hold himself together, so he can work easily for you. Doesn't happen in a week or 30 days, but you should be seeing improvement in his ability to move well, if you work him regularly by the end of the 30 days.

    Too many folks are afraid to move a horse out in the trot or canter, let him do his true gaits WELL, before they have him trying that show ring stuff of almost no forward progress. Going so slow starting out, is hard on him, can easily mess up his way of going when he can't go forward the way horses are designed to go. Holding himself in such an artificial body position can be painful.

    Hope this is helpful. Yep, it is slower than going with "tricks", but you end up with a better trained, muscled-up horse who is a LOT more adaptable, capable, to do your requests. A horse who can go with a bit of speed when asked, slow when asked, has the muscling for self-carriage, is a better horse you can enjoy in your riding activities. Probably a big help with a better brain because speed or CHANGE in routines of riding, are nothing to get excited about, wherever he is being ridden.
    This. Also, I am working on my green bean right now to get his lope better. We are doing quite a bit of transitions: lope, halt, back, lope again. Go a few strides to let him get a feel for the lope. Halt, back, lope off again. Rinse, repeat. You can do this anywhere.

    ETA: at first it isn't pretty, but the key is to get him under himself on take-off, so he is using himself correctly. Each time we do this, it is "prettier" each time, with him being able to stay balanced for more strides. If I feel him starting to crumble, halt, back, lope off.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  5. #5
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    Yes, there are execises. The best is the spiral. Spiral in at the trot to as small a circle as the horse can manage. Then move the horse out making sure that the hindquarters and forehand stay together. Neither one should lead but the inside hindfoot MUST step under. It's very very shallow lateral move out. When you feel the hindquarters are underneath the horse, canter. DO NOT allow horse to speed up before it canters. If anything you will feel it slow down a hair. Stay on a relatively small circle and come back to trot before the horse has a chance to fall apart. Relax, repeat once or twice, go on to something else.

    There's a lot more to this. Your hips have to keep the canter position, inside hip leading, and you need to be able to sit well and stay out of the horses way.


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  6. #6
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    Is this the lame horse? Maybe he's still lame.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    Is this the lame horse? Maybe he's still lame.
    Wow, the lame comments are getting really, really old. I even posted a video of him for Christ sake. HE IS NOT STILL LAME, I WOULD NOT BE RIDING A LAME HORSE.
    Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
    The Blog



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Does he lope better at faster speeds, not hand gallop, but faster than show ring wants to see?

    I see loping problems when horse doesn't KNOW HOW to manage himself well in a gait. I don't slow them down a lot until horse is good with reins and legs giving him signals he can respond to. A lot of the slow going is a balance and coordination thing. A young horse may not have learned how to balance or carry his rider at those slower speeds and keep his legs right! He can learn bad habits, troping, trotting in front, walking behind, if he doesn't have good BASIC gaits down well first. He needs to be doing a TRUE trot, a TRUE canter, though they may not be slow right away.

    Horse needs to build muscle to do that slow stuff, can't expect a green horse to have the ABILITY when he is just starting his riding career.

    So I would probably back up, do some ground work in a round pen rather than lunging. You don't want the line pulling his head into the circle, you want natural, self-carriage as he balances himself to do the gaits. Get him cantering on voice command, both ways, at a moderate, NOT going for slow yet, speed. Is horse COMFORTABLE going at a canter? Not having tangled legs, or not synchronized in his movement? If he is good at this faster speed, no issues, then you should try riding him at this speed, see if horse can STILL go smoothly with a rider. If not, then rider balance or weight could be putting horse into problems. If horse is smooth at the faster speed, then he needs to be worked to develop muscling to enable him to go slower, coordinated in his legs and body.

    So his daily riding will need both faster canter work, a BIT of slower work in short sessions of 30 seconds, then speed him up again. Lots of slow and faster, so he is not worn out trying to go slower. Double benefit of horse being GREATLY adjustable in speeds, and not working just a few of his muscles at only one speed.

    Even if horse is not young, he may never have been developed well, to build the needed muscles for self-carriage in slower gaits. That is NOT a baby kind of movement, you have to "build the horse muscling" so horse is comfortable working that way, not falling apart or hurting when you ask him to do that stuff.

    Again, you start with horse doing TRUE gaits, trot, canter, then develop his muscles with short sessions of slow, back to faster speed in the gait, so you are keeping him from hurting. He has to have that muscle to hold himself together, so he can work easily for you. Doesn't happen in a week or 30 days, but you should be seeing improvement in his ability to move well, if you work him regularly by the end of the 30 days.

    Too many folks are afraid to move a horse out in the trot or canter, let him do his true gaits WELL, before they have him trying that show ring stuff of almost no forward progress. Going so slow starting out, is hard on him, can easily mess up his way of going when he can't go forward the way horses are designed to go. Holding himself in such an artificial body position can be painful.

    Hope this is helpful. Yep, it is slower than going with "tricks", but you end up with a better trained, muscled-up horse who is a LOT more adaptable, capable, to do your requests. A horse who can go with a bit of speed when asked, slow when asked, has the muscling for self-carriage, is a better horse you can enjoy in your riding activities. Probably a big help with a better brain because speed or CHANGE in routines of riding, are nothing to get excited about, wherever he is being ridden.
    I am not asking for slow, he is naturally slow. His issue is that he gets really hollow, head goes up, back goes down. Somehow he manages to stay smooth though! I guess what I am really asking for is help figuring out how to get him to lift his back when loping. I have tried just wiggling my ring fingers to ask him to at least get his head out of my lap but he just ignores me. I have to keep my leg on him or he stops dead. Previous owner had reining ambitions with him.

    Tonight I rode him in spurs for the first time to see if a little more refinement with the ques would do anything. Discovered that he has flying lead changes! No improvement with the asking for him to lift his back though. Worked for a good 45 minutes with this before we were both getting frustrated and decided to end with some lateral work and call it good. We were both very sweaty!
    Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
    The Blog



  9. #9
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    I guess what I am really asking for is help figuring out how to get him to lift his back when loping.
    See posts 3, 4, and 5
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


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  10. #10
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    You talk about the position of his head at the trot, but not about hind end engagement. I assume you have the round, "coming from behind" carriage that you want in the trot?

    IMO, you need to maintain this at the canter. Don't take anything else. If he's slow, kick him up faster until you feel him use his hind end. Yes, you must have the same softness in the bridle. I'd settle for "too fast" in the lope until I got the feel in the bridle and with his hind end that I wanted.

    There are a number of ways to do that. Faster/slower, a bit of leg yield in or out (or you can spiral as someone else said, but that may involve too many strides before a change.) You need to have a lot of feel so that when he does give you his hind end (he reaches under with it) and you feel lightness in the bridle, you reward him by leaving him alone or going straight for a few strides. When he falls apart, you fix it, again doing nothing unless you have the right feel in your and from his hind end first.

    If this horse is dull to the leg, that's your very first problem, IMO. Fix that at the trot and make him "rideable" there. If you don't have responsiveness and a horse who can keep his balance at the trot, you won't have it at the canter.
    The armchair saddler
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  11. #11
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    Some of the things we do with our young reining horses are:

    Lots of transitions. Don't lope around and around. Loping correctly uses a lot of muscles and it takes time to develop. Halt. Lope for five strides. Walk for three strides. Back to lope.
    The quick transition back to lope immediately after you walk is great for lifting their shoulders.

    Two. Does your horse give to pressure? Do you ride in a twisted wire or a curb? If you ride in a curb keep reminding yourself to lift straight up with no backwards motion. As you're loping and you start to feel him going everywhere, close your leg and lift straight up. Do whatever you need to to keep the lope. If he flings his head ten you've lifted too quickly. If he just resists, continue to push him forward and keep that hand steady. As soon as he shows any softness, RELEASE. Now continue to ride your lope until you feel him fall apart again. It may only be three strides. Repeat the lifting and sending forward.

    What's important is that you don't hold them together. Fix them, then let them make their own mistakes. You will fix them a lot.

    I also would work more on your horses softness at the jog. Counter bend and soften his rib cage.

    As he gets a little bit more balanced you can also counter lope, this is also excellent for softening the rib cage.

    And lastly, you can try riding a shoulders or haunches in on a straight stretch.
    Don't worry so much about where that head is as long as he's fairly soft. Don't ride your horses face. Ride your horses hindend and the face will come.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHunterKid90 View Post
    Some of the things we do with our young reining horses are:

    Lots of transitions. Don't lope around and around. Loping correctly uses a lot of muscles and it takes time to develop. Halt. Lope for five strides. Walk for three strides. Back to lope.
    The quick transition back to lope immediately after you walk is great for lifting their shoulders.

    Two. Does your horse give to pressure? Do you ride in a twisted wire or a curb? If you ride in a curb keep reminding yourself to lift straight up with no backwards motion. As you're loping and you start to feel him going everywhere, close your leg and lift straight up. Do whatever you need to to keep the lope. If he flings his head ten you've lifted too quickly. If he just resists, continue to push him forward and keep that hand steady. As soon as he shows any softness, RELEASE. Now continue to ride your lope until you feel him fall apart again. It may only be three strides. Repeat the lifting and sending forward.

    What's important is that you don't hold them together. Fix them, then let them make their own mistakes. You will fix them a lot.

    I also would work more on your horses softness at the jog. Counter bend and soften his rib cage.

    As he gets a little bit more balanced you can also counter lope, this is also excellent for softening the rib cage.

    And lastly, you can try riding a shoulders or haunches in on a straight stretch.
    Don't worry so much about where that head is as long as he's fairly soft. Don't ride your horses face. Ride your horses hindend and the face will come.



    We do a lot of the shoulders in on the straight at the jog. I set up cones inside the "track" and I have to pass through those. Essentially, you're pushing him off the wall (rib cage in) and then after I pass through the cones, I push him back to the wall (rib cage out).
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post


    We do a lot of the shoulders in on the straight at the jog. I set up cones inside the "track" and I have to pass through those. Essentially, you're pushing him off the wall (rib cage in) and then after I pass through the cones, I push him back to the wall (rib cage out).
    The "we" being me and my gelding!
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  14. #14
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    Horse can have a lot of pain which affects their gaits and ability to *hold* a gait. Has he been checked out for joint pain, back pain, shoulder pain. I'm working with a chiropractor/vet. I amazed at how many places my horse reacts to stimulus and he's actually working quite nicely. Doesn't mean it doesn't hurt tho.

    Sorry if you're tired of this line of thought. If it isn't pain, then it could be a strength issue...which can lead back to pain. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.


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