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-   -   To trot, or not to trot? That is the question... (

Griffith361 09-07-2012 01:16 AM

To trot, or not to trot? That is the question...
Ok so I'm a little frustrated/flustered.

I guess I should start by asking what yalls opinion is on not trotting constantly, and loping for the most part instead?

The reason I'm asking is because Kix's trot is a total nightmare! I've known this for years (he's 11 and I've had him since he was 9 months) so its not a shock, but up until I decided to start training for this LD, I just dealt with it or loped instead. I know that hasn't helped the problem but it's really become an issue.

He's a Quarab, and his gait is just awful. Granted I was raised riding western but have intermittently ridden "dress up English" as I call it because I've never taken proper lessons, and have started riding him in my all purpose English saddle since it fits him so much better. I dont think my seat/balance is that bad considering. Yes i post, maybe not always the correct diagonal but posting is not kind to my knees regardless. He just beats you to death and I can't get an even paced, jog, trot, or even extended trot! I know after referring to my gps, I need a decent extended trot to hit 6-7 mph but I can't hold him there without jarring my brains out! His lope/canter is beautiful in comparison though (as is often the case with many horses) and I can rate him MUCH better at that gait.

I guess It boils down to "why NOT lope more?"

Here is how my brain is working right now.....
--"Is it too high impact compared to a trot?" I say yes as a general blanket statement, but maybe not in this case as I'm not bouncing in the saddle and adding to the impact when cantering.
-- "Does it cause skyrocketing heart rate?" I have no idea. Don't have a monitor. --"Is the loping then walking/trotting transitions too variable? I guess by that I mean; is the roller coaster of higher speed loping, to walking, to loping again, too inconsistent for that distance?

I apologize if this is confusing, it's way past my bedtime.

Joe4d 09-07-2012 03:14 AM

just too many variables, we can argue and conjecture till we are blue in the face but really wont know.
To answer your question you need a heart rate monitor. Preferably one you can use riding.

Skyseternalangel 09-07-2012 03:24 AM

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I think as long as they're fit, they can handle more loping than trotting. Some horses have awful trots and the lope is usually the smoothest of the gaits. Just be smart about it.

usdivers 09-07-2012 03:41 AM


Originally Posted by Joe4d (Post 1674656)
just too many variables, we can argue and conjecture till we are blue in the face but really wont know.
To answer your question you need a heart rate monitor. Preferably one you can use riding.

That is exactly the point I was going to make. Put a heart rate monitor on your horse, and then try different surfaces, hard trail, soft sand, etc....and monitor which gait gets you a lower static heart rate while in work, and you will have your answer.

IE...I have a TWH...and on all surfaces his HR is higher on his flat walk, then when he is in top gear in a running walk where it feels like he is almost cantering.

maura 09-07-2012 06:43 AM


I think as long as they're fit, they can handle more loping than trotting.
Skye, do you have a source for that info? I ask because it's contrary to everything I've been told/taught over the years.

Now, I am NOT a LD or endurance rider, but in general, I thought a long, stretchy cross country trot was the most efficent gait; maximizing ground coverage while minimizing energy expended? While a canter or lope was faster, you burned more energy to cover the same ground?

That's in general, so I'm guessing that if a horse had a really awful, choppy, short trot, it's conceivable that that individual horse could be more efficient at the canter than the trot? Which is why other posters are suggesting a heart rate monitor?

bsms 09-07-2012 08:52 AM

Some data here:

Trot V Canter

I don't know about the trade-offs myself...

clippityclop 09-07-2012 09:21 AM

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...

I have friends who lope 50 milers, but their horses have been doing 50 milers 2-3 times a month for several years in a row (like 5 years or more) so they've had the proper conditioning for it and their horses are so fit, that they just do a little dressage between rides and the rides themselves are conditioning enough...

I agree about getting a HR monitor but then you have to be so careful because you can bring a horse up to cardio fitness in as little as 6 weeks, but the ligaments and tendons for loping a 25miler, will need over a year or more.

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.....

definitely put a hr monitor on your want list! I don't know how I ever made it thru my first decade of distance riding without one.:wink: especially if it comes with a GPS that has the little screen with the breadcrumb trail so you can back track when you get lost (like me) LOL!

Celeste 09-07-2012 09:38 AM

I suspect that he will not be able to perform as well at the canter as he will at the trot. I would work on improving his trot.

maura 09-07-2012 09:40 AM

Interesting article, bsms, thank you.

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?

mls 09-07-2012 09:42 AM

With a lope or canter, more stress on the front legs. You have to be especially careful of those horses that prefer one lead.

You can also get more lift to their back and thus less stress on the whole body with a correct trot.

An extended trot with canters/sprints thrown in here and there is the best with the least amount of impact on the over all condition of the horse.

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