I’ve had several queries in regard to the post about No Fear of Loping so here is some more information on the lope or canter.
Aids for the Canter or Lope
and Sitting the Canter or Lope
Aids for the canter or lope, right lead:
Apply the aids when the left hind leg is about to land
Think – “Come under behind, come up in front, and roll forward smoothly into a three-beat gait.”
Seat – Right seat bone forward and up; left seat bone back and down.
Push down on the left seat bone then follow the forward movement to the right (without leaning forward) just as the horse creates the forward movement, not before.
Legs – Right leg on girth; left leg behind the girth; both active
Reins – Right direct rein to create flexion and an appropriate amount of bend; left supporting rein or bearing rein to keep horse from falling in on right shoulder.
- initiating hind leg or outside hind
- the diagonal pair or inside hind and outside foreleg
- leading foreleg or inside foreleg
- regrouping of legs or a moment of suspension.
If the initiating hind leg is the left, the diagonal pair will consist of the right hind and the left front, the leading foreleg will be the right front and the horse will be on the right lead. When observing a horse on the right lead from the side, his right legs will reach farther forward than his left legs. The right hind will reach under his belly farther than the left hind; the right front will reach out in front of his body farther than the left front. When turning to the right, normally the horse should be on the right lead.
The canter has an alternating rolling and floating feeling to it. The energy rolls from rear to front, then during a moment of suspension, the horse gathers his legs up underneath himself to get organized for the next set of leg movements. The rider seems to glide for a moment until the initiating hind lands and begins the cycle again.
A lope is a relaxed version of the canter with less rein contact and a lower overall body carriage.
HOW TO Ride the Canter, Right Lead
It is not enough that your horse is on the correct lead. You must ride every step of the way to keep him in balance and in the correct position.
Right seat bone forward, left seat bone in normal position
Upper body erect
Outside shoulder forward, inside shoulder back
Right leg on girth, active, creating right bend and keeping horse up on left rein
Left leg behind the girth, active, keeping hindquarters from swinging to the left, maintaining impulsion.
Right direct rein to create appropriate amount of bend and flexion
Left supporting rein or neck rein if appropriate
USE All western performances and Training Level dressage.
NOTE The trot-canter transition develops a good forward working canter.
Disunited is when a horse is on one lead in front and another behind. Also called cross-leaded. This is very rough to ride.
Counter-cantering is cantering on the “outside” lead on purpose as a means of developing obedience, strength, balance, and suppleness. If counter-cantering on a circle to the right, the horse would be on the left lead and he would be flexed left.
CAUTION Don’t force a horse to carry his head too low or he will be unable to round his topline and bring his hind legs underneath himself and will subsequently travel downhill, heavy on the forehand.
Don’t slow a horse down too much at the canter or the diagonal pair of legs can “break” (front landing before its diagonal hind) giving rise to a four beat gait where the horse appears to be loping in front and jogging behind.
Be sure the horse is moving straight ahead, not doing the crab-like canter.
Hope this was helpful. Have a great ride !