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Hi everyone!

So I have a sort of long and hopefully a non-complicated question. First, it should be known that my horse is an 8 year old Quarter horse/Paint. I've been riding for about 2 years...(maybe a little shy of 2 years). I'm having trouble with my lope transitions with my horse. His previous owner didn't think too much of transitions, so she always took him from trot to lope. I'm okay with that, however, I take riding lessons on my horse and my instructor pushes us to transition from the walk into the lope. I have little experience in the lope, and my horse is far from comfortable with walk to lope transitions.
My problem is, I want to take him from the trot to the lope for awhile until we both get more comfortable with loping, as he doesn't have lots of experience with it either, but whenever I get a lesson, my instructor pushes the walk to lope and my horse gets terribly confused.
My question is, does it really matter which gait I start from until we both get used to loping? Or should I really just start from the walk all of the time? I want to make this easier for my horse and myself and do what is actually correct.
Also, what is the proper way to signal my horse to pick up the lope from either the walk or the trot? I want to make sure I am doing it correctly to clear up any confusion.

I really hope that wasn't confusing and that y'all can help me out. I've been so confused on what is the "right way" lately.
Thank you!
:runninghorse2:
 

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I've not met a horse that couldn't learn to transition to a lope from both the walk and trot.

I teach the ones I ride to respond to the same cue regardless of at what gait we start. Even a stand still.

Consistent cuing and practice will bring success.
 

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How fit is your horse? To lope from a walk takes a lot of hind end power which may be lacking

Or your horse could be confused about what you're asking.

Either way you'll get there. I personally would work on loping from trot and then once you've got that down, try it from walk. Maybe even assign a vocal cue to help understand the transition.

Good luck, have fun, and be safe
 

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Does your instructor tell you the basics you need for a lope transition?
Yes, the cue to lope is the same, regardless of whether you do it from a jog/trot, from a walk or from a standstill.
The degree of difficulty increases from a walk versus a trot and from a standstill versus a walk.
There are also two ways a horse can pick up the lope.
The first is used on green colts, where one just lets a horse trot faster, chasing the horse up into the lope, out of foreward momentum
The second way, is a collected departure, where the horse drives up from behind, while keeping frame and topline, and for that you need several basics on the horse
-shoulder control
hip control
horse knowing how to give in the face and poll
You use outside leg,(opposite of the lead you want ) slightly back of the cinch, make sure inside shoulder is up, holding inside rein against shoulder, and drive that horse up into the lope from behind,and not by allowing him to trot faster, stick out nose, elevate head, ect
Once the horse does good transitions from the jog/trot, you can start asking from the walk, and finally from the stand still
If you haven't got basics on your horse, as mentioned, you will not be able to do good walk to lope transition, and not really from the jog either.
 

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For the barn/lesson horses I ride, I've noticed a few things.

First, they have to be very active in the head to be sensitive to the cues. For example, if it's the start of the lesson and we haven't cantered yet (loped), they might not catch on right away that's what I'm asking for because they're kind of in this lazy, warm-up mode. We try not to do tight circles or dressage moves until they've walked and trotted for a few minutes. During this period, they can fall into a lull that makes it harder for them to feel your signals.

Generally, the first time I ask for the canter, they trot a few steps. But once they realize it's cantering time, they respond right away. Horses that are used to riders who aren't perfect sometimes need more obvious signals about what you want.

Also, if the horse doesn't respect you much (lesson horses are bad this way sometimes), you might have a harder time getting them to respond and to do a nice, sharp transition, even after the warm-up part of the lesson. For these horses, I recommend showing the horse who's boss right from the start of the lesson. That means ask,tell, demand from the very first "walk on" command after you saddle up. If they don't walk off smartly like they're ready to work, some heel and then if there's still no active walking (meaning they're plodding), give 'em a crack from the crop.

Even the most lazy, stubborn horse at our barn responds to that kind of attitude. It's fair as long as you ask with leg pressure, tell with a kick from the heels, and then demand with the crop.

After a cropping or two, they stop looking around worrying about what the rest of the world is doing and start flicking their ears back to you, waiting for your next instruction. That's also when they feel that outside leg sliding back and quickly jump into the canter.

At least, that's been my experience!
 
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When on their own, most horses transition from a walk through the trot to a lope or canter. You might think of this as going from first gear through second gear to third gear in a car. A common exception is when a horse is frightened. However, such quick movement from walk to lope or canter generally includes tense muscles. With proper work and development of collection in the walk, such tension may be mitigated when riding. Without prior work on collection, bad habits involving unnecessary tension may result from requiring a horse to go from a walk immediately into a lope or canter.

In order for a horse to develop a better feel for cantering under the weight of a rider and for the rider to develop a feel for moving with the horse in a canter at an earlier stage in training, it is best for the horse to be allowed to transition naturally from the walk to the canter through the trot. In this way, the horse’s muscles may better maintain relaxed suppleness.
 

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If you're not looking for show ring perfection, you can try what worked beautifully with one of my horses. I had a voice cue to tell her I was about to ask for a lope. "Ready to go?" meant "don't change gait yet, but be ready." Her head would come up, ears pricked, and strides energetic. Then I would kiss and squeeze with one leg, and, because she was ready, she would immediately lope without trotting (or walking, if we started from a stand still).

The other benefit was that when we dropped back to a walk, she would relax because she knew she would have warning if I wanted to lope again. I only attended local shows a couple of times a year, so I didn't care that my cues weren't "proper." They worked for me. I also rode bareback a lot, so I often avoided trotting. ;)
 
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