Age to start loping the horse
Just wondering what is the best age to start loping the horse... I had discussion with 2 people recently who thinks loping 2 year olds is a good idea. Personally I don't think so at all. What are the opinions?
Hmm, well, consdering I wouldn't be ON a horse until it was at least 3, I think 2yrs is definitely too young.
After that, I think it depends on the horse. Usual practice here is to break at 3, get some solid foundations in and give the horse a nice break for a few months before bringing it back in and start seriously working at 4yrs. Some people just keep the work very very light until 4yrs instead of giving the break.
Cantering/loping, IMO, shouldn't start, in an case, until the horse has a god solid foundation in walk and trot i.e. is well-balanced on both reins evenly, strong and flexible. Once a good walk/trot is established, possibly with some groundpoles too, you can go up the paces and work on the canter/lope. I would say if everything was progressing very well and quickly you could introduce a few canters when the horse was 3, but if I was going by the usual 'holiday and then serious work begins at 4' system 4yrs would be when I started to look to introduce canter.
I'm in agreeance with Kyani, and she wrote a really good response, but I thought I'd chuck my two cents in.
If I got a horse as a weanling, I would make sure it knew how to lead and tie, pick up his feet, stand patiently to be groomed, and be respectful of your space. Other than that, I would let the horse just be a horse!
I would reinforce these things until the horse was 3, then bring it in to be lightly started. I would start with groundwork (ground-driving), slowly introduce the bridle then saddle, and get them started lightly under saddle. I won't force them to do anything, but rather let it tell me when it was ready to progress. I would be fine with cantering a 3 year old, but on a large circle, and just briefly.
Once the horse was okay with basic walk, trot and possibly canter, I would chuck them out to pasture for a few months, then bring them back and start over again.
I would never start a 2 year old though...
In Norway loping/canter doesn't start before the horse have been ridden in least 6 months, so 4 years old is a fine age.
But in driving we canter with the horse from it is 3 years old :)
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