The English canter is equal to the quarter horse’s lope. After teaching your quarter horse to move from a trot into a collected lope with his rear end engaged, it is important to keep practicing so you both feel comfortable. Some riding disciplines, like western pleasure and reining, require loping as part of the show regimen. Additionally, performance horses, such as roping and barrel horses, benefit from warming up at a lope before completion.
Practicing longeing your horse at the end of a longe line gives you control of him from the ground. Longe lines are available in lengths ranging from 20 to 45 feet. The line attaches directly to your horse’s halter. When you give the cue, such as by making a clicking noise or popping a whip on the ground, your horse moves faster in a circle until he begins to lope. While holding the longe line, keep him moving at a slow lope and work him in both directions.
A round pen with good footing, like sand or soft dirt, provides a safe environment in which to lope your horse. Your round pen may consist of tubular pipes or a solid wooden wall. With the ideal size ranging from 40 to 60 feet, the round pen lets you lope your horse freely from the ground or from the saddle while riding. Starting with large circles and then moving to smaller circles helps your horse collect his rear end.
An open field allows your horse to lope freely without the confinement of a longe line or round pen. After your horse learns to collect his rear end and lope in a tight circle, an open field gives him the chance to practice in a different environment. After all, it is important to keep yourself and your horse from getting bored while practicing.
Reining horses must complete the figure eight in their competition pattern. The figure eight is a great way to practice loping for any quarter horse owner. Also, it helps teach your hose to change leads while loping. For instance, on the right lead your horse reaches out with his front and back right legs simultaneously, while pushing with his left legs. Half of the figure eight should be on the right lead and half on the left lead. Generally horses pick up on the lead changes pretty quickly with practice.
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