Life In A Long Trot


Just spent four great days at the “Home Ranch” in Clark, Colorado.  Great meals, great people(staff and guests) and great scenery and accommodations make for a very enjoyable time.

I have never missed the morning wrangle of getting the horses in in all the years I have been going there.  It is just a great way to start the day to get horseback and trot out and bring a bunch of horses in.  It is the best thing in the world for a young horse to get them moving out and forward with their mind.

I like to long trot.  When you trot it is real easy to to keep your horse with you mentally and physically.  You can swing them up to a real extended long trot and them shorten it up to slow down and the horse stays with you mentally because of the way his body moves in the diagonal of the trot. It’s easy to keep a horse soft in the trot and not get stiff in the face and through his body. In the trot, the balance point of the horse is right with you or under you, and it is easy to speed up or slow down.

The lope is a gate that three feet are going together.  The horse must push much more from behind and has lots of momentum up and this sends the mind out forward and puts the balance point ahead of the horse and rider.  With a young horse or one that wants to run off, it hard sometimes to bring the balance point back with the reins because it is way out in front.  With a horse that might want to go quite a bit, I feel it is important to take them from the long trot up to the lope and then bring them back to the trot before they get scared and the balance point is so far out there you can’t bring it back.  This is what is so great about jingling horses in.  They draw the horse your on forward and you can bring them back.  If you can do it strait and not circle or bend the horse, it really helps to get the the mind and the feet much better and the horse understands much quicker.  

Most of the guest want to lope.  It is very exiting for them.  They all take off and most of them are behind the action and out of control and that is a big thrill.  When they take off they want to be in the lope as fast as possible, and if they weren’t on good horses, they would be way behind the balance point and the more they bounce and flop the more they would be sending their horse forward.


If they were riding a colt or less experienced horse they would have a huge wreck.  This is the challenge of having a dude horse.  You need something safe but responsive enough for the guest to enjoy themselves.  Tough to find a horse that fits the bill and harder to keep em good.

I rode two nice young horses while at the Home Ranch, and halter broke a baby.  I really enjoy that part of my time at the ranch.  I get to ride and make changes on horses for the better.  It’s such a great feeling I get working with these horses.  To make positive changes without using excessive or the wrong kind of pressure is what I really am working on and enjoy so much.


Sitting on the plane headed to Calgary I was thinking things over.  I think lots of people are loping through life, on the edge of a runaway.  We try to do to much to fast sometimes and our horse runs off, or we don’t do enough and our horse(life) gets dull and we don’t get very far.  When you are in a long trot you can still see what you need to see, and if you need to lope it’s an easy transition, just as slowing down and enjoying things is. 

This is a pretty good way to think about it.  I want to be at a long trot most of the time when I’m horseback, but able to move up to a lope or run if I need to, or slow down to a walk and enjoy the ride.  I think I will try to live my life the same way.

6 thoughts on “Life In A Long Trot

  1. George Kahrl

    I love the long trot, it can be wonderfully soft and balanced for myself and my horse.The other morning I was leaving a cow camp in the Forest, wall tents and smells of pines, the horse corral tucked into the trees. I asked my horse for a quiet, soft trot to head out down an old FS timer road we use to get into cow camp. The horse was so nice and soft. It had come a long way from the spring when it was a seeming run-away at times. I remembered back in March when I went to loping circles in the sands of the calving pasture just to help the horse find expending all that nervous energy wasn’t helpful. I have also given that mare a lot of affection and built trust with her, different than her previous owner, so now we balance and ride together. When riding in the long trot I feel my breath lengthen so it moves in time with my horses gait. One thing I love doing, which also helps soften my horse, is to change diagonals as I ride along cattle trails through the sage. The horse feels the small change of my weight and leg and takes the direction as I only slightly raise my reins without touching one side or the other of her mouth. Riding on the outside diagonal helps me balance just on the outside of a curve which frees up the horses inside shoulder. Thinking about my breath, feeling the rhythm, and finding my balance helps me move my rhythms into the horses body and we feel as one. Often I drop the reins on the horn and let my hands fall to my thighs as we long trot across the prairie. I often use a change of diagonal when working cattle as well. When I ride along the cattle, I hold and inside diagonal which can help remind my horse to hold just outside the cattle so as to keep them together without pushing in on them. Then when I come to an outside edge, or turn back along the cattle I’ll change my diagonal to be on the outside which helps me center just barely outside the movement on the outside, freeing up the inside shoulder so my horse can reach into the turn without me leaning inside the turn. Being on the outside diagonal also allows me to give gentle leg pressure as I feel my body come down with the shoulder of the horse. The horse feels this and then knows to reach slightly with its inside foot which at that time is moving through the air. It is one of the beautiful feelings of riding, which indeed helps me remember to also find balance in my life as you mention. There are wonderful life metaphors of riding and living, which are beautiful when they are all happening together. Thank you for your writing, your riding, and helping balance into the movements of a soft and long trot through life. George

    1. curtpate Post author


      Pretty in-depth stuff for a “hick with manners”. Real good thoughts and display of what thinking and riding can do, rather than riding without thinking.

      Thank you for sharing

    2. John Teagarden

      George Kahrl, I don’t know you but I should. I enjoyed your thoughts and explanation. Curt, I am fortunate to know you and if you will keep on thinking and writing it down, I will keep on reading it and Thinking. 🙂 John Teagarden

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