Problem with the lope- pain or just needs conditioning?

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Problem with the lope- pain or just needs conditioning?

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  • Positioning to lope
  • Problems with the lope

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  • 1 Post By Annanoel
  • 2 Post By tinyliny

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    04-11-2013, 11:48 AM
Problem with the lope- pain or just needs conditioning?


I have been having lots of trouble with my geldings lope. His trot is completely fine- he easily picks up a level headset (even free longing he carries his head correctly and trots slow with good cadence). However, when I ask him to lope, he falls out of the lope, counter canters, and on a longe line has an awkward headset. I can keep him out of the counter canter if he moves really fast. He also lopes really fast and uncomfortably under saddle. His lope does seem to calm down a little bit when he's going in a straight line for a period of time, but at any turn or corner he falls apart. His saddle should be fitting properly as I have been working with a saddle fitter. The whole ordeal looks very awkward.
My question is- how do I determine whether he has some sort of pain that is causing him problems at the lope, or if he's falling out of his gait because he's lazy and just needs conditioning and work at collection?

I have thick skin. If this is a rider error don't hesitate to call me out on it!
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    04-11-2013, 12:29 PM
It could be LOTS of things -- a few questions first.

How old is this horse?
What has his training been like?
What do you usually do with him (discipline wise)?
Any ongoing problems?

Rider errors could be how you're asking him to set up for the lope / canter, how your position is going into it, hand position, leg position. A video would be GREAT to look at.

Now, does he just stop loping or is he giving up and just not listening to your cues? Sounds like there may be pain involved, I'd get a video if you could that'd be the easiest for us to see some signs. Overall though, if it's pain I'd get him an exam just to make sure everything is right.

My guy is young and throws his head up and hollows out frrom time to time at the canter. He's still learning and is getting more comfortable everyday with it. We've been working on the basics before asking him to really carry himself and his head, now though he's dropped it and is really driving from behind like he should. Before though when uncomfortable he looked awkward and gangly, almost like he was in pain but he's slowly understanding.

If you can rule out pain issues, I'd work on transitions and cantering / loping exercises. That would be the best at this point to get him going easy and comfortable.
tinyliny likes this.
    04-11-2013, 02:30 PM
Is he better at picking up his left lead? He may not have been taught to use the other and is resistant to doing so. In time it becomes more comfortable. It doesn't always mean pain but it could. Can you write legibly with both hands? One isn't as well developed as the other from lack of use, and would tire quickly.
    04-11-2013, 03:41 PM
Reno does pick up one lead better than the other, I'm kicking myself for not remembering which one it is. He tends to alternate between super fast crazy lope and breaking into a crazy trot thing. Someone else looked at him and said that they didn't think it was pain because he was not bobbing his head. I will see what I can do about a video.
    04-11-2013, 04:53 PM
Yeah, a video of him on lungeline and with you riding would be great.

How well does he back up? Will he back up straight, or in an arc, and if so, curving in which direction? (this applies to how stiff he might be on one side of his body)

I suspect that his issues is not so much pain, like lameness pain, but rather real body stiffness.

I would trot him out more , more vigorously, so that his back is really moving more, and allow him to place his head where he wants for abit.

Work on transitions from walk to trot to walk, a LOT. Then, trot to canter, canter a very short amount, then back to trot.

Walk him kup and down hills and put out poles for him to walk over. All things to build up his balance and abdominal strength.
Annanoel and Skyseternalangel like this.
    04-11-2013, 06:47 PM
Reno tends to back crooked, off to the left, but only on the ground. And I'm pretty sure its my body positioning telling him to go the wrong way. As for speed, he moves at a good clip to get out of my space on the ground (he will almost run backwards), but he backs slower under saddle. As far as I noticed he seems to back straight under saddle. Tomorrow I will see what I can do for a video of him longing.
Thanks for the great help guys :) I'm a huge worrier and was worried he was majorly in pain.
    04-12-2013, 01:40 AM
My horse has lameness issues and appears sound at the trot. Don't let a horse that trots "sound" fool you into thinking they are sound. If he is worse on corners, and counter canters when free lunged, then a good lameness exam is in order.

It could be saddle fit, it could be that he is really out of shape, but any horse that consistently counter canters and does not improve with work has a lameness or physical issue.

Do you know anyone who can do flexion tests?

The easiest way to find out if a horse is lame is to ride it. A good rider can feel when a horse is not moving right. If the horse feels "weird, off or otherwise unusual" compared to other horses than that horse is probably lame. I can't stand riding a lame horse- I can pick up on it as soon as the horse starts to move.

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