excercises for improving balance at the lope?
Today was my first ride on my horse since getting her home. I spent most of the time trying to figure out exactly what she does and doesn't know, and what major problem areas we need to tackle first. She need a little bit of tuning at all her gaits, but the lope is definitely in need of the most help. I knew this from test riding her, so wasn't really all that shocked.
First we need to work on the transition. She doesn't get how to move up to the lope without building a ton of speed at the trot. Once she does get loping she's crazy out of balance. She throwing me everywhere, and keeps losing her footing. It really feels like she's just not been loped enough to figure out how to move and balance with a rider. Are there any exercises you guys can recommend to help her along?
for the transition some will say whenever she speeds up the trot, slow her back down and try again, my issue with that is that in the end you spend more time trotting than loping which imo defeats the purpose. others (myself included) will say just get it done regardless of how bad it looks/feels and eventually the horse will figure out without us needing to intervene that it's easier to do a nice smooth transition.
and for balance, unless the horse is violently stumbling at the walk/trot then i'd say the best thing to do is just canter a nice large circle and focus on your own balance. eventually she'll find her feet.
Lope, lope and lope some more. Don't worry about how rough the transition is until she get VERY comfortable loping. Just sit the trot, use legs and 'cluck' for the lope. She will soon learn that when you sit the trot and cluck that she is supposed to lope.
I try to lope very big circles in an open field. I NEVER do figure 8s but will make two or three circles to the lsft, come across my circle, drop to a trot for a couple of strides and lope off the opposite direction. Then, I do two or three circles that directiion, cut across the circle and change directions again.
This give me the opportunity to teach several vital things.
1) They learn lope departures.
2) The two or three circles give me the opportunity to improve their willingness to 'stay between my legs'. This means that I am working at 'bumping' them to the outside of the circle on the side that they want to cut in on and I am bumping them in on the side they want to drift out on. Within 3 or 4 sessions, they should be guiding 100X better.
3) Cutting across the circles and doing simple changes gives me the opportunity to begin teaching them to pick up a particular lead.
Now, let me explain what NOT to do!
When you are on the side of a circle where the horse wants to 'drift out' -- usually on the side of the circle nearest to the barn -- ONLY PULL ON THE INSIDE REIN ENOUGH TO GET THE HORSE'S HEAD POINTED THE DIRECTION OF THE CIRCLE . Then quit pulling. Use more outside leg or tap the horse on the shoulder with a short crop or bat to make the horse 'follow his nose'.
If you keep pulling harder to get the horse to go where you want. you will only teach the horse to 'over-bend' or 'rubber-neck'. If you pull harder instead of 'pushing' on the on the outside of the horse, the horse will never learn to 'follow its nose' and 'stay between the reins' and 'stay between your legs'.
These are 'biggies' and loping big circles out in the open and changing leads (simple changes) and directions teaches much more than just 'how to lope'.
Thanks! Cherie I will have to try that this weekend when I can go down to the field to ride. It's started getting dark out so early that by the time I get off work, I'm stuck in the arena where the electricity is. But that's ok we'll stick with working on collection and bending at the walk and jog for now. She's bad about throwing her shoulder into her turns and counter bending on the long side of the rail. So plenty to work on till we can get a little more room to move up in speed.
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