Horse won't lope

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Horse won't lope

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    08-19-2011, 02:59 PM
Horse won't lope

I need help with my 5 year old Paint Mare, she is the first horse who has challenged me with this problem. First, some history behind her, I bought her in November at a 4 year old, who was lightly broke to a walk and some of a trot but very green broke her 3 year old year. Then before I got her she was ridden 3 times, her 4 year old year. So when I got her we had some issues, she wouldnít tie and had feet problems, so our first couple months was all ground work. Then I missed up my shoulder so I was out of training her for a couple months. When I started riding, I rode her in a D-ring and this first month was nothing but relearning how to steer. Now, I can get her to listen at a walk at all times and a trot almost all the time. But she wonít lope. Now, I have tried to push her into it, but that didnít help. So I figured take her back down to ground work. She will not lope on a lounge line either. She will do just very fast trot but will not break into a lope. She was to be a barrel prospect, but she isnít looking like western pleasure. She has a nice lope out in the pasture. Iím going to try to lounge her and once she lopes good like that I will start having someone lounge me on her for a few for her to get the hang of it. The problem Iím having is no matter how hard I try she doesnít lope. Now a trainer is out of the guestion at this time, but Iím willing to read any book or watch any movie that you think would help. I have trained horses to lope before, but never with this much problem. She is becoming a good horse, if I could get her to lope.
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    08-19-2011, 03:23 PM
Do you work her outside of the arena/pen? Maybe until she gets her balance under saddle she would be more comfortable with a long straight away or open field. You could also try going out with another seasoned horse and rider, and ride just behind them going for a nice long fast lope. Maybe that will give her just enough extra motivation to finally break into that stride.
    08-19-2011, 03:43 PM
What cues are you using now to ask for a lope, both on the ground and in the saddle?
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    08-19-2011, 05:40 PM
Originally Posted by Skipsfirstspike    
Do you work her outside of the arena/pen? Maybe until she gets her balance under saddle she would be more comfortable with a long straight away or open field. You could also try going out with another seasoned horse and rider, and ride just behind them going for a nice long fast lope. Maybe that will give her just enough extra motivation to finally break into that stride.
I agree with this advice. Also, maybe post a pic of her so that we can see if there are any physical problems. Have you checked her tack recently?
    08-19-2011, 07:53 PM
I don’t have an actual arena I ride in. Normally training is done in our lane and or in the pasture and or our old garden area. I have attempted to get her going in the lane, and have got her in a lope, but by time I get her in it, I ran out of lane. She has loped like 6 strides with me and they are smooth and balanced. I would be hide another horse when I did this, but finding another rider isn’t always easy. If we get brakes on our truck, I want to haul her to our local trails where you is sandy, safe ground for miles where I normally use to get them in shape. Someone has told me it’s a bad idea to use another horse to train like this, but I have done it for years like this and never had a problem?
Let me try to think of my cues, it’s automatic now. When on the ground I get her trotting then start making like a kissing noise ( I guess that how you explain it) then I hit the ground behind her with the whip getting closer and closer to her. Does that make sense? I have also tried tapping her with the whip. I wondering if the noise of the bull whip with help? Should I try it or any different cues.
When I’m riding her, I trot her then make the same kissing sound and start squeezing with my legs, getting harder and harder until she can feel the spurs. (she is ridden in spurs a lot of times, because she trys to be bossy at times and needs the extra aid) I have tried tapping her shoulder or butt to get her to lope, cause I know horses respond in different ways. Any other ideas?
I will post some pictures of her. Now she is normally ridden in my western saddle, with a tie down and breast strap plus we are breaking her for the back girth. When I work on her loping I would take the tie down off to allow free movement of her head. She has a D-ring snaffle. The back girth has only been on a couple times, but normally it’s also is removed so she doesn’t have many new things at a time. I have left it on the last time to see if many she didn’t like the feel of the saddle. I could try one of our other saddles, but my niece moved her horse and now we only have my English saddle, my western and my dad’s two old heavy western saddles. I don’t have good enough balance to ride the English saddle if she goes crazy on me, but can in the western. I have rode western 12 years and English like 10 times. I know there is still a lot for me to learn in both areas.
Saddled and not happy but being tied. Also on a note this picture I took the breask collar off before I worked in and put a back strap on. I don’t know why I didn’t take a photo of her like that.

Other side

Her sitting tied

First ride on her at my place maybe. I had tons of layer on. So you can’t tell much from how I was sitting.

Does this saddle fit her better? It’s heavy and old so I don’t use it, unless someone is ridden my retired mare.

I will try to get better pictures if they will help?
    08-19-2011, 08:06 PM
Super Moderator
There is nothing wrong with this mare other than she has made up her mind that she does not want to or have to lope. She is not unbalanced or sore or afraid. She does not need more ground work. Her riders have just asked her several times to lope and she knows they did and she succeeded in having the ride end without loping. You only have to fail once to have a horse be more difficult to get into a lope. After several tries that end with failure , they REALLY, REALLY do not want to lope.

I have seen it over and over and have written about it many time here on this forum. When I trained for the public, this was not an unusual problem to come my way -- usually (but not always) brought to me by a do-it-yourself novice rider/trainer.

You say you cannot put enough pressure on her to get her to break out of a fast trot. I say you have just not put enough pressure on her to make her WANT to break out of that fast trot.

If a horse is manageable at the walk and trot, I go out to an open field or on a long trail that is not rocky or real rough and go for a really long lope. I usually take my long harness leather split reins and spank one with an 'over and under' action. I do not like a whip or bat and have found that getting after one on one side just teaches them to duck around and head the wrong way. They usually do ANYTHING they can to get you to let them stop, so I make sure they are loping freely when I ask them to come back to a trot. Then, I make them trot a good ways before I let them walk. Again, I want to call ALL of the shots.

I have seen so many of these horses, that I have always made sure I taught horses to lope by the 3rd or 4th ride. I have many of them lope on their first ride. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of teaching horses good forward impulsion and a good work ethic early in their riding.

If you do not have the resolve, confidence, balance or riding ability to ask a green horse to lope/canter, you should let someone else ride the horse for a while so that the horse learns that very important impulsion and work ethic.
    08-19-2011, 08:17 PM
Green Broke
The way I ask for a lope or canter is... Pressure with the inside leg... a heel roll or rub with the outside leg. It tells them what lead to pick up.
    08-19-2011, 08:34 PM
I would start to differentiate your cues for trot and lope. Here's my basics:

Trot on the longe - cluck NOT kiss, and raise the whip so that it's pointed at the hocks, if they don't take the cue, I raise it higher, then tap the ground with it. If you move closer, make sure your taking a very precise first step with your leg that's closest to her hindquarters. The whole idea is that you're steadily increasing the pressure, and as soon as she gives in, you release.

For canter on the longe line, that's when you kiss, and do the same with the whip as for the trot, except you raise it a bit higher, and almost take a lunge towards her with your leg that's closest to her hindquarters. If she still doesn't take it, then you can pop your whip. DON'T pop the whip unless you absolutely have to, that's your ace in the hole, and if you use it all the dang time she's going to get completely dull to it.

The poster above gave the right cue for the canter - inside leg at shoulder, to keep her shoulder up, and slide your outside leg back to her hip so as to push her into the right lead, kiss and squeeze.

Once you get her longing on the line, after you've trained her the difference between kiss and cluck, it should be pretty straight forward. Give her a pop with the reins if she doesn't get it, get out of the arena, and increase the pressure until she gives in. Be sure to reward, and give her every opportunity to do it right. Going straight to your big guns (like spurs!) will just make her increasingly dull to the cues.

The goal is to reward her for being responsive, not to force it, so make sure you're breaking everything down into enough steps that she has a chance to give you the right answer.
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    08-19-2011, 08:51 PM
Super Moderator
I am afraid that at this point the cues have absolutely nothing to do with the horse picking up a lope. Cues have to be taught to mean something. This horse it at the point where it just needs to lope any way you can get it to. The refinement of specific cues, specific leads, collection and a slow comfortable lope are all waaay in the future. Any kind of lope is perfect at this time as is any cue that gets the horse to lope.
    08-19-2011, 08:53 PM
I had the same problem with my 4 yr old mare and Cherie ^^^ told me what to do and I have not had a problem since. I used the split reins in the "over and under" action as she suggested and my mare picked the canter right up and I have not had a problem since.

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