Colt-Starting: When to Start Loping

Before you ask for the lope, keep these three things in mind.
Miles Baker talking to audience
Miles Baker's colt-starting series on Ride TV covers all the basics for starting a horse right.

You’re at the point in your colt-starting journey where your young barrel horse is backed and knows the basics. So when is it time to start loping? Miles Baker, one of the leading horse trainers in the industry, shares his thoughts on when it’s time to progress to the next level of training.


How’s your trot?

Miles Baker trotting young buckskin horse in outdoor arena
Watch the full training video.

“I don’t lope them until they’re really comfortable long trotting. They need to be comfortable with me up here bouncing and flopping while they’re trotting. I spend a lot of time long trotting and eventually they usually just kick into a lope themselves. They generally find it themselves when they’re ready for it.”

Ride the horse your horse is today.

Miles Baker trotting a young buckskin horse who isn't paying attention and looking around
Watch the full training video.

“The horse I’m riding here has been loped but he hasn’t been ridden in five or six days. He’s looking around a lot and he’s not traveling out. After I ride him a few days consecutively, he’ll probably put his head down and quit looking around. And then I’ll probably feel comfortable about loping him. But today, there’s no need.”

The right time is when the time is right.

Watch the full training video.

“There are colts I’ve loped in the first five or 10 rides and then there are some colts I didn’t lope for the first 60 rides. It’s part of developing a feel for what your horse is thinking. A horse will tell you when he’s ready to go to the next step. It’s your job to listen to him and go to the next step when it’s time, not to push him to a step he’s not comfortable with. If it takes a colt a hundred days, then it takes him a hundred days. I’m here to make sure that he gets trained and goes on to be successful and help somebody else be successful. I’m on his time; he’s not on my time.”

The Complete Colt-Starting Series

Check out the complete colt-starting series on Ride TV. From the first 30 days to drilling a pattern, coaches like Miles Baker and Justin Briggs walk you step-by-step through starting a barrel horse.

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