The Walk To Lope Transition.

Question: I need help with my lope transitions, my horse seems to anticipate the lope is coming and when I do ask for the transition into the lope from the walk he pig-roots or tends to jump into the lope or trots before he takes the lope transition. Can you help me get a clean lope transition?

Answer: Absolutely. A smooth, seamless walk-to-lope transition is, as we know called for in the show pen, however, many riders only seem to work on the jog-to-lope transition.

A horse that can easily strike off without throwing his head up and lunging into the gait, or breaking first into a jog is setting the actual lope that follows the clean transition up for a much nicer, more correct, cadenced lope the whole way around the pen, that will give you those “Kodak” moments that you should be striving for.

Your own position and use of the aids is what will help make the difference between a collected, relaxed departure, and a rushed, anxious one, whether you’re teaching a young two year old or retraining a senior horse. If you do it right, lope departures can feel and look super sweet. But do it wrong and you can throw your horse off balance, frustrate and confuse him — and end up with a horse that equates loping with anxiety and trying to get a perfect lope transition on an anxious horse is near on an impossibility.

Here is what I do…

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Equine Health, Five Tips For A Healthy Horse

If you own a horse, you are probably aware of the time and money needed to properly care for this amazing creature. Since horses have a longer life than do most animals, keeping them healthy can be somewhat of a challenge. Still, there are several things you can do to help ensure your horse stays healthy. Below are five tips that will help you get started down the right path.

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Master the sitting trot

Riding a good sitting trot involves staying in the saddle and moving with your horse.  No bouncing and no daylight between your backside and your horses back. I believe not enough time is invested in mastering the sitting trot. It is probably one of the most difficult things to learn when you first begin riding. I believe the sitting trot would be more important in mastering before learning how to post. A lot of the time most riders are left to their own devices, in trying to stay in the saddle and not bounce around.

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Strengthening your horse’s hind end

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Many horses that have soundness challenges or general “hind end weakness” I see it alot during lessons and training. The majority of these horses are in the prime years of their life. At 10-15 years old, they still have many good years ahead if we can assist them in developing better balance and strength. Conformation issues can slow some horses down, but many are able to live comfortably and carry a rider if some time is spent focussing on building up their bodies.

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Old habits die hard!

How to quick-fix a horse’s bad habits in the show pen

Anticipation

I am always on about repetition when training your horses. This is the quickest way to instill into your horse something you want to teach them – repetition! Until repetition of a certain kind backfires on you.

Nothing worse is there, you’re in the class, the announcer calls for a jog, however, it’s out of sequence to what your horse is used to, he hears the mic “assumes” it’s time to lope, suddenly your whole world collapses at your feet, your pulling the reins, he’s lifting his head and trying to lope off, did the judge see it? Most likely, yes.

This is only one scenario that could lose you a place in the lineup.

Horses are incredibly smart animals. They learn to listen to the announcer for transitions instead of to their rider’s cues. They can become anxious and want to move up into what they think is coming next!

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Draw Reins – Part Two

Last time, I spoke about the usefulness of draw reins and the problems that can occur when you overuse them. I love to use them, as I mentioned in my blog “Draw Reins part one” when I am going to train the lope transition.

Why?

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How to manoeuvre the gate with your yearling/2 year old trail horse…

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Using a snaffle on a Senior Horse

Senior horse snaffle bit training…

Or any other bit for that matter!

I think the worst thing you can do once you hunt down that curb/shank bit that your horse loves and works well in is to use it on him day in, day out. When you do find that “favourite” bit the best thing you can do is to keep it for those special occasions like showday.

Lot’s of riders’ do this and it is “common sense” to them to say “Beauty! My horse loves this new bit, I can relax now and stop worrying!” Down the track though, I get calls and questions all the time wondering why their favourite bit is not working anymore. You can liken it to using the same spurs day in day out, after a time the horse starts to become dull to the feel of the spurs you use every day.

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Why do horses shake their heads?

What triggers a horse to flip his head uncontrollably, sometimes to the point of endangering him and his rider?

The amazing thing about horses is how such large, powerful animals can be so sensitive and aware of the slightest sensation, such as a fly on its back or face. Rippling of skin or an occasional head shake is a normal response to the tickling trigger of nerve endings. But, there are times when a horse can’t stop shaking or tossing its head to a seemingly in-apparent sensation; such incessant behaviour is known as head shaking.

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Is your horse leaning or pulling the reins out of your hands?

The main reasons that I have found for a horse to lean or pull on the reins is:-

  1. Teeth
  2. Pain
  3. No release from your hold on the reins

Question: My horse has started leaning on the bit. She was fine before she had her accident and hurt her back leg, I gave her three months off and now she has started leaning on the bit. I don’t know what to do to fix this. What do I do?

 Answer: This is a good question and thanks for asking. If you are 100% sure your horse has no teeth issues and is not suffering any pain, I would hazard to guess your horse is pulling the reins out of your hands because the is no release from your hold on the reins.

So, we are constantly told to be light on our horses mouth. This can be part of the problem sometimes (but not always). When a horse pulls on us, the tendency is to allow the reins to be pulled through our hands because you are striving to do the right thing and be “light” on your horses mouth.

I actually use a similar method when I am training the horse for Hunter Under Saddle, the only difference is, I am holding a firm grip to encourage the horse to “nose out” and get low… read my book From Go To Whoa – Section on Teaching your Hunter Under Saddle Horse. You can also refer to the blog 3 tips to help you win in Hunter Under Saddle. When a horse pulls on the reins, gets release and is not corrected, this actually teaches the horse that pulling is acceptable behaviour. Having been successful, the horse will do it again.

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