To trot, or not to trot? That is the question... - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 17 Old 09-07-2012, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by clippityclop View Post
I wish I could SEE him in action... sometimes just some training in the arena can help him carry himself more efficiently - but sometimes they really do just have a 'shake your teeth out' trot...

Have you exhausted every avenue with trying to work with his trot to see if collection and balance exercise can help? I've converted two like that myself...that's why it is the first thing that comes to my mind.....
Clippity, what did you do to work with your horses?
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post #12 of 17 Old 09-07-2012, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by maura View Post
So my interpretion of that data is that there's no benefit to pushing your horse to have a big, extended trot? That there's a "sweet spot" so to speak, at the bottom of the curve, at about 3.5 mps, where the trot is most efficient, but when you push for more, say 4.5 mps or above, the canter may be more efficient?
I will have to find the links to the treadmill studies, but I can recall reading about the biomechanics of the "big trot" versus the "regular" trot.. which basically said that maintaining that BIG trot was very stressful on the shoulders especially and not ideal for longterm soundness. When you got faster than the regular trot, the horses stopped pushing from behind and started pulling themselves from the front.

I thought that rather interesting, as Dream much prefers the trot to the canter, so I started really paying attention to the way she moved when we were training and what her heartrates were at specific speeds. And while I knew her "power trot" felt very different than her regular trot, I had never bothered to look down and see what made it different (her regular trot will be 6-10 mph, the power trot was generally 12-14 mph). When I started to pay attention, I could actually feel her weight shift as she went from mostly pushing from behind to mostly pulling from the front! Since then, I make a point to keep her from doing the power trot for very long and instead ask her to move into a canter. Also, her heartrate would drop when going from the power trot to an easy canter.
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post #13 of 17 Old 09-07-2012, 08:35 PM
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eache gait is gonna have a sweetspot, but there can be alot of difference from horse to horse. Feel him out and hard numbers from a HRM , which are only about $100 these days will let you know.
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post #14 of 17 Old 09-07-2012, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Griffith361 View Post
Clippity, what did you do to work with your horses?
I cross trained with dressage and used hill work regularly. One of the horses was a big boned (and heavy at the time) gelding that reminded me of a freight train - the faster you asked him to go, the faster his legs went - the more flat he got and strung out - there was hardly any real way to post to his trot because it was almost out of rhythm.

We did a lot of trot 20 feet, stop, back up a few - over and over until he lightened up a bit in the bridle (he was also very stiff necked and didn't like to turn) and once he was softer going forward, I started asking him for collection and then to continue his forward momentum (slow trotting at this point) and then added circles around cones. Then I added the hills - while going UP, I would stop him half way and then ask him to walk forward again and concentrate on getting him to use his REAR to get up the hill, not pulling with his front - about 15 minutes every day on the uphills (horsie version of the stairmaster LOL!).

That was the one thing they had in common - they pulled themselves along rather than pushed and once they got their strength built up in their hind end, suddenly we had two or three speeds of controllable trot. Time line from nothing to noticing a difference in the way they carried themselves was about 6 months (probably every other day riding)- and then you just make it a part of how you ride all of the time and then it becomes habit.

Maybe worth a try! It worked for these guys....they basically were just stiff all over inside and out. It reminds me of what it is like to suddenly start taking pilates or yoga and then one day you bend down to tie your shoe, and for the first time ever, you can actually put both palms flat on the floor.
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post #15 of 17 Old 09-07-2012, 09:39 PM
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I have been trail riding for decades. I have always felt that a good trot is a sign of a good rider and a good horse. When I want to cover a lot of ground quickly, the trot is my preferred gait.
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post #16 of 17 Old 09-08-2012, 12:06 PM
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Just my two cents:

Working trot is the most efficient gait for endurance, conserving energy over the course of 25 miles and allowing your horse to regulate itself while still travelling at a decent speed. This is about 8-9mph. An extended trot (my boy can cruise at 13-14mph) puts too much strain on the ligaments, and it would be better for the horse to lope. However, you generally don't want to do this over the majority of the ride, and loping puts more strain on the ligaments than does a steady working trot. This is the reason the AERC changed the rules for finishing an LD - too many riders were loping the 25 and their horses were suffering because of it. Now, you place in the order that you pulse down. For example, say you come in first, but your horse isn't pulsed down. Someone comes in afterward and pulses down first - they take first place and you take second (or third or whatever depending on how many riders pulse down before you).

In addition, you need to take into account the horse's metabolics. Loping too much can mess with these, and they don't always show up in a vet check. You need to know your horse, and by the time you notice something is off, it may be too late.

Do an experiment: Take your horse out and lope him for a while. Usually, he's going to start sweating and really get wet a lot faster than he would if he were trotting. This is evidence of two things: your horse is working much harder and is therefore sweating more; your horse is losing water much faster.

Also, horses sweat differently from humans. In humans, only water and salt comes out in our sweat and our blood concentration changes, signaling us that we're thirsty and need to drink. Horses, on the other hand, sweat isotonically, meaning whatever is in the blood comes out in the sweat and their blood concentration doesn't change, so it doesn't signal to the horses to drink more and replace not only the water, but also all the electrolytes and nutrients you're losing. If you don't, you're going to be in trouble and the normal vet check may or may not pick it up.

One final thought: As other riders have said, there are a lot of variables. I know that some riders do lope their horses, but usually they have been doing this kind of things for decades and so know their horses and signs of trouble inside and out. Then again, I also watched a veteran rider almost loose a horse this year at a ride because she was overridden - and it wouldn't have been the first horse he'd lost. Get someone in your area who has done this for a long time to ride with you and mentor you. If you only began doing this in the last couple of years, your horse likely is not ready to lope a 25 and you could end up with a serious injury, most likely to the ligaments as they take at least a year, sometimes longer, to strengthen. This is not a sport to take lightly any decision about how to run your race - 25 miles or more will turn a small bad decision into a very big problem. And if you plan on ever doing 50's or longer, you need to teach your horse to pace itself on a 25 or it will not be able to mentally prepare itself for longer rides.
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post #17 of 17 Old 09-08-2012, 08:45 PM
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Thank you for asking this question! It has occurred to me as well since my boy is similar- his lope is wonderful and his trot made us both want to die. I will say that over the nearly year I have had him, his trot has actually gotten good enough that *I* am now obviously the weakest link, so there is hope.

"All" I did with my guy was hours and hours of transitions and bending at the walk and the trot- real horse trainers may have a more efficient method. Only in the past month or so have we actually been able to reliably work on different speeds of trotting without his trot going back to horrible jackhammer. I think my guy just needed to have the strength, rhythm and balance of trotting hammered home forever...

Time for a horsie heart rate monitor.
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