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Dear Cherry,

I’ve just started loping recently and when i do i feel like im gonna fall out of the saddle, and it makes me nervous. And sometimes i find it more difficult to steer my horse. Do you have any tips on this? And also what’s the differences between loping, cantering and galloping?

Desirae

Hi Desirae,

Your nervousness when loping is a common anxiety with new riders. I’ve answered similar questions on this blog.

To search for topics, just type the subject in the search box (there is one at the top of the page and one in the right hand column) and click on Search.

For example, entering loping, you will find the following articles:

Overcoming the Fear of Loping

Aids for the Canter or Lope and Sitting the Canter or Lope

Overcoming the Fear of Loping (another rider, another reply)

Here are  the difference in the terms you ask about.

The canter and lope are both a three-beat gait with the following foot fall pattern:

1.         initiating hind leg or outside hind

2.         the diagonal pair or inside hind and outside foreleg

3.         leading foreleg or inside foreleg

4.         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.

Canter is the term generally used to describe the gait of an English horse.

Lope is the term associated with a Western horse and is a relaxed version of the canter with less rein contact and a lower overall body carriage.

An extended canter or lope (sometime called a “run”) is a canter/lope with a long, strong stride, head and neck reaching forward.  The extended canter/run has maximum ground coverage per stride while retaining the tempo of the ordinary canter/lope.

There should be no increase in the rhythm of the hoofbeats from a canter/lope to an extended canter/run  – just an increase in reach. There should not be a shift into the gallop.

The gallop occurs when the horse increases tempo AND length of stride so is maximally extended at full speed. It is a 4 beat gait because the diagonal pair work separately.

The term hand gallop is often called for in the hunter show ring.  In many cases what is really desired is an extended canter.

RELATED TERMS

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.


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