Borrow Some Horse-Training Advice

Circles naturally strengthen a horse’s ability to maintain an uphill balance with his weight behind. Journal photo Circles naturally strengthen a horse’s ability to maintain an uphill balance with his weight behind. Journal photo

October 11, 2017
Borrow Some Horse-Training Advice
Learn how to extend your horse’s lope and slow back down.

From AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm

This article is a continuation of last month's advice. This month, we show you how to get an extended lope from your horse.

What to Do
Use correct aids. Remember, changing speed in any gait is a transition, just like changing gaits.

As a rider, you must:
1. Maintain a perfectly balanced position
2. Prepare and clearly cue the horse with coordinated aids for the changes in speed. To properly execute an extended lope and slow it back down, here’s what you do:
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At the lope, your hips swing forward and back, following the horse’s rhythm. To extend the lope, emphasize your hips’ forward movement a little more strongly in the forward swing and use your leg aid lightly on the horse’s sides.

To slow down, bring your shoulders back so you can stay in the center of your horse and keep your balance. Stop the movement in your pelvis by tightening your lower stomach and buttock muscles, which puts weight in the seat. That will help the horse engage underneath and get more uphill.
Keep your legs close on the horse’s sides so the hind legs keep moving.

Let your reins come slightly upward (remember, your outside rein is your brake rein - use it upward if you need more response) to encourage an uphill balance as he slows down.
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Don’t worry about where he carries his head unless it is below his topline; in that case, use your legs and forward motion to bring it back up. If the horse’s head is too high, forward motion and a curving line will help it drop. As your horse gets balanced and coordinated in his three gaits, he will relax his head and neck down naturally.

Any time you start a horse under saddle, the horse will travel in a quick, faster stride, especially at the trot or lope, because he’s learning how to carry your weight and maintain his balance. All horses go fast when they are not in balance, are weak or lack coordination. Slowness comes with relaxation as the horse develops correct balance and strength.

When you first ask him to extend, it’ll take him more strides to respond to your cues, and he’ll travel flatter in his frame. As he gets stronger and more confident at the new speed, his self-carriage will improve.

Continue reading about perfecting the collected lope at AQHA Daily.