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Dear Dana: Help! My horses doesn’t transition well on a loose rein

By DANA HOKANA / Horsetrader columnist - May 19th, 2010 - Q&A Dear Dana

DEAR DANA: I am having problems with my lope transition. My horse’s first inclination is to not push with her hindquarters, but to pull her forehand up and round out to go into the lope. I worked most of last summer on this and what I do is pick up the reins and drive her into the lope. I’m not feeling that these transitions are getting much better, and she doesn’t go into it properly on a loose rein. Should I continue on the path that I’m taking, or is there a better exercise to work on this?
–Charlene Smith

DEAR CHARLENE: My goal is to be able to control the flight and step of the hock with my outside leg.  I do a lot of exercises to move my horse’s hindquarters over with my leg, but I hold and push with my leg or spur until my cue and his step get together.  That way, I can leg my horse into the lope and not release until he is committed into the lope.  With this in mind, try again and see if you are missing it by releasing too soon, or if he is laying on — or ignoring — your leg. 
Another exercise I do is to back squares.  If I’m working on the right lead departure for example, I will back him in a square off of my left leg, and when I can feel his acceptance and willingness, I will then do a 180-degree turn on the haunches toward the right or into the direction I want to lope off.  This will often get him off of his front end and it also demands that he move over off of your leg.  Plus, it builds acceptance and strengthens him for the departure.  Try this and it should help a lot!

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