Episode 44: How Can I Improve My Horse’s Lope or Canter?
One of the top issues that I get questions about is improving a lope or canter and doing it safely.
In this episode, I use the four square model of the horse’s mind, the horse’s body, rider’s mind, and rider’s body to illustrate some safety precautions for improving your lope and canter. I kick the show off with a call from one of my past clinic participants named Bob. I asked Bob if he’d be willing to share his experience with everyone, and he agreed.
After my conversation with Bob, I have another guest named Michelle that had a horse with very serious metabolic issues and laminitis. I remember things better when they are wrapped in a story, and I’ve never had a horse with these issues. Michelle shares her story of trying to get a diagnosis for her horse, and the treatment that finally helped her recover. Michelle hopes that her story will help others be advocates for their horses.“You may need to improve your horses physical conditioning to improve his lope or canter. You can do this by lunging more on a lunge line or in a round pen” Stacy Westfall Click To Tweet
[01:53] Bob came to one of our clinics, and he lives close enough to us that he’s been able to take lessons with Jesse.
[02:13] His question was about getting a controlled rhythmic lope that he’s seen a lot of other people accomplish. Bob’s lopes were frantic and even scary at times.
[02:35] Bob’s main assignment was to lope more for longer periods of time.
[03:01] After increasing his time, his horse will now rhythmically canter.
[03:41] Bob thinks that the horse was thinking that if he went fast he would get the stop.
[06:10] Bob’s question is one of the most common questions.
[07:19] The improvement has really made a difference in Bob’s mounted shooting. He rides about three to four days a week. He works his horse for an hour.
[08:26] He works on things in the outdoor arena and on trail rides.
[09:26] Let’s use the four square model and begin with the horse’s body to talk about safety when working up to your lope or canter.
[09:36] You may need to improve your horses physical conditioning to improve his lope or canter. You can do this by lunging more on a lunge line or in a round pen.
[10:03] You could also lunge over poles at a canter.
[10:37] You also need to take a look at your horses mind. If you’re unclear about your horse’s body or mind, get a professional opinion to put you at ease.
[11:39] Another square in the model is the rider’s body. What is making you physically uncomfortable about writing more?
[12:23] You should work on your trot to improve your confidence before you work into the lope.
[13:47] You can also improve your physical strength outside of riding a horse.
[14:06] When you go to the fourth quadrant of the rider’s mind, a great exercise to do is write down all of your fears on a piece of paper. Then find a solution for each thing that is holding you back.
[16:45] I believe in analyzing what is going on with the fear rather than just forcing yourself to work through it.
[19:54] Michelle bought her horse when it had just turned three. Her horse was a healthy Tennessee Walking Horse.
[20:35] When Michelle’s horse was seven, she began having acute lameness. It took awhile to diagnose it as laminitis.
[21:25] Some symptoms that the horse had included breaking out in hives then becoming acutely lame. She acted like her front feet were sore, but there was no visible injury.
[23:47] With x-rays at the veterinarian, they were able to see the rotation and the sinking in her feet.
[24:48] After treatment, every six weeks for a year. The horse fully recovered. She still wears special shoes and goes to the vet once a year.
[26:13] She also started medication to boost her metabolism. The lab work did indicate a metabolic issue.
[27:58] The horse is also on a special diet and takes supplements. She is 11 years old now, and she has fully recovered.
[30:23] Michelle followed up with lab work, because the numbers tell you what is working.
[33:34] The horse is now on Metabarol and vitamin E.
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