Trivia Challenge: Ways of Going

Answer the questions, then check at bottom for the key. For more fun and interesting information about horses and horsemanship, read H&R’s ‘The Ride’ newsletter. (Not getting it? Sign up below.)

Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

1. A horse that’s ‘soft in the face’ is:

A) crazy in the head.

B) not very fine-boned.

C) responsive to the bit.

2. What is a four-beat lope?

A) the transition from lope to walk

B) a desirable, well-modulated lope

C) an undesirable, overly slow lope

3. True or false: A horse’s ‘hollow’ side is his easier-to-bend side.

T / F

4. In proper carriage, the face of a collected horse is:

A) roughly perpendicular to the ground.

B) roughly parallel to the ground.

C) drawn in towards his chest.

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. C is correct. Saying a horse is “soft in the face” means he’s actually soft in his mouth and responsive to all your cues. When you pick up on the reins and close your legs, he softens through his jaw, flexes at the poll, and rounds through his topline.

2. C is correct. A true lope at any speed has three distinct beats. If you try to dial the speed of a lope back too far, your horse becomes unable to maintain the purity of the gait. That means his middle beat—the diagonal legs—will no long come down together. Instead, one will hit the ground a bit before the other, giving the total stride four instead of three beats.

3. T is correct. Horses are naturally stiffer on one side than they are on the other. The side that bends more easily is called the “hollow” side; your job is to supple his other, stiffer side and keep his hollow side from overbending.

4. A is correct. Viewed from the side, the face of a well collected horse is at or slightly in front of the vertical. If his nose is drawn in towards his chest, he’s overflexed and bending in the middle of his neck instead of correctly at the poll.

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