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How to correctly lope

This is a discussion on How to correctly lope within the New to Horses forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • How can i achieve lightness in my horse
  • Best way to relax a nervous lope

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    10-21-2013, 04:18 PM
  #11
Weanling
Let your hips totally move with your horse (You will probably be leaning back pretty far, don't worry about that now!). When you are no longer bouncing at all you can start working on your back position, just keep repositioning your back and eventually you will start loping pretty well and you should no longer be bouncing or leaning back to far. This took me a few weeks when I was trying to learn how to lope properly. Practice makes perfect!
     
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    10-22-2013, 08:46 AM
  #12
Super Moderator
The best way I know how to tell someone how to 'sit' a lope is this:

Sit tall and straight. Do not lean forward and do not lean back. Try to keep you legs straight down under you -- also not forward or back. Then, in rhythm with the horse's lope, push your heel down (put a little more wight into your stirrups) every time the horse's last foot in the stride hits the ground. It is like 'daa, daa, dum --- daa, daa, dum --- daa, daa, dum.

If you watch a horse lope, you will see that there is a slight pause after that last front foot in a stride hits the ground and the first hind foot in a stride hits the ground again. You will also notice that that last front foot to hit the ground reaches out farther that any other foot in a stride. That is the lead a horse is in. A horse circling or turning to the right should be in the right lead. A horse circling or turning to the left should be in the left lead.
Hope that helps a little.
Cherie
     
    10-22-2013, 10:24 AM
  #13
Trained
This worked well for me, although it might be tough in a lot of western saddles...

Quote:
Originally Posted by maura    
Riding the canter correctly and well in a full seat is difficult, and many more riders do it badly than do it well. As Allison stated above, it requires a degree of abdominal fitness, as well as correct position, relaxation and a good understanding of gait mechanics and how the horse's back moves. That's out of reach for a lot of recreational riders. I would much rather see an elementary or intermediate rider cantering in half seat, allowing the horse to move freely, than someone attempting and failing a full following seat and punishing the horse's back in the process.

There is nothing inherently insecure about riding the canter in half-seat or two point as long as the rider is in balance.
Riding the canter in half seat

At a canter, the loins of the horse go up & down a lot. The withers barely move. In a half-seat, you put a lot of weight into the stirrups, which hang nearer the withers than the loin. You are leaning forward, so your weight is off your rump and on your thighs. Your rump is barely touching the saddle. If you are leaning forward the correct amount, you could transition to standing up in your stirrups without needing to adjust your upper body. It is easy to practice it at an easy trot.

When I tried that, I stopped bouncing on my horse's loins, which made both of us happier about cantering. From that position, I can slowly settle into the seat as I feel the rhythm of the horse. Or I can stay light in the saddle and keep going. But with time, settling deeper in the saddle only when I felt the rhythm, I got used to the horse's motion and moving with them.

If you bounce while learning, you also teach your horse that cantering is painful, and you teach your horse to lock its back to protect himself from the bouncing - and the horse's stiff back makes it much harder to ride. It is like sitting the trot. An easy, relaxed jog is easy to sit. A nervous, stiff-backed hard trot is painful to sit. The same thing happens in a canter. A relaxed, easy canter - a lope - feels good to sit for both horse and rider. A nervous, stiff-backed fast canter is like sitting on a jackhammer.

I hurt my back a few months after I started riding at 50, so just relaxing with a flexible lower back wasn't an option for me. Getting my horse to relax, collect some and be happy in a canter - ie, to lope well - makes a big difference in what I can do. For me, learning with horses who were not experienced in cantering themselves, starting in a 2-point, settling to a half-seat, and then moving deeper into the saddle at MY pace has helped a lot. Before that, I looked like I was flying in formation with my horse instead of riding him.

If that doesn't help, just ignore it. My youngest daughter and my daughter-in-law are both far more flexible than I am, and they pretty much just sat & relaxed until it felt right. And of course, being about 75 lbs lighter than me meant they weren't punishing the horse the way I was...
     
    10-24-2013, 06:53 PM
  #14
Foal
It clicked with me when my trainer told me to out 80% weight on my heels and 20% seat. It lighten my seat up a lot
     
    10-28-2013, 02:18 PM
  #15
Yearling

What does he mean by "stopping with your hips" ?


Let your hips be loose while loping and then lock them up to stop?
     
    10-29-2013, 04:02 AM
  #16
Weanling
When you canter, you move you hips in rhythm with the horse. Stopping with your hips involves planting yourself in the saddle and stopping the rythm. It's hard to explain, but it's like closing your hips and seat for a half halt but stronger. Very effective way of stopping, but hard to explain.
     

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