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CTRL ALT DELETE
May. 6, 2009, 05:30 PM
I've recently acquired a project horse. He's around somewhere between 9 and 12, and was a driving horse in a previous life. He's absolutely adorable, has a great trot and a rocking-horse canter. He frames right up and is an absolute sweetheart. I really think he'll make a great low-level eq/hunter with a bit more work! I would love to bring him to a few B/C shows this summer to get him out there, BUT...
He doesn't pick up the right lead canter.
I suspect it has something to do with his past in driving. I've only ridden him twice, but his owner said that she has never been able to get it out of him either. He won't even pick it up on the longe line! The only time he will canter on the correct lead tracking right is if you start left then do a lead change to the right. Obviously in a flat class at a show you can't do this!
He is kept at the owners house, and for the time being I only have a round pen to ride him in so doing l-r lead changes then working him on the right lead canter from there to build muscle is out of the question. I have been working on trotting him a lot tracking right though. He is not my horse, so as far as I am aware he has no soundness issues that would prevent him from picking up his right lead.

Suggestions?

Mayaty02
May. 6, 2009, 07:35 PM
well unless you know for sure (as in have done a full vet workup) my first guess would be that there's something making him sore....

MintHillFarm
May. 6, 2009, 08:05 PM
I have one that was the same way. It took a year for him to figure it out. What helped me was to attempt the lead as I trotted over a pole on the ground. Feeling when the balance was right and inside hind leg underneath him, I would ask. It took awhile as I said, but it's a none issue now. I did watch him canter on both leads loose and the quality of the canter was the same each way. He had no soundness issues so I kept trying...I never made a big deal out of it either. Good luck and try the pole on the diagonal line as you change direction to the right...

grabmaneandgo
May. 6, 2009, 08:07 PM
I had a similar problem with the right lead. After lots of detective work, it turned out to be a significantly arthritic elbow. That may sound kind of funny, but it was a soreness at the root of our problem. Perhaps it is yours, too.

Kestrel
May. 6, 2009, 11:14 PM
We had one like that who turned out to have a bone cyst in the stifle.

CrazyDog
May. 7, 2009, 06:59 AM
If you don't think this is a physical issue but simply a training one, it might help to leg yield a few steps into the corner (as it establishes the bend and helps engage the hind end)) before asking for the canter. You should be able to leg yield into the corner, then simply move your outside leg back slightly and he should pick up the correct canter lead.

2DaPoint
May. 7, 2009, 07:02 AM
Chiropractic??
KD

zahena
May. 7, 2009, 10:29 AM
I have a similar issue with my horse, only he'll pick up the lead but not consistent. My trainer has me take him down the quarter line, push him away (like a leg yeild towards the rail) support with my inside leg and then press away with my outside leg to the inside rein. As soon as his legs start to cross, I ask.

Believe it or not, it works well with him and now he's fairly consistent on both leads down the center of the ring.

findeight
May. 7, 2009, 10:58 AM
I dunno, he probably never cantered much hitched to a buggy-at least not on purpose. Probably just does not know nuthing 'bout no leads.

He also probably does not know anything about laterals and displacing the haunch that have to be in place before you can ask for a lead and expect any kind of shot at getting it.

Right now, I'd do as you are, round pen to the right mostly trotting, put the side reins on and let him learn to balance and bend on his own and build up some muscle.

There are some ground things you can do. Try leading him from the RIGHT side-we actually teach them to be left sided by handling exclusively to the left. See if you can't teach him to move away from pressure by pressing your hand against him, especially that haunch-that will help unlock him.

When you ride, start teaching a little leg yield and some simple small circles at the walk using a direct (leading) rein while you step on the ouside stirrup and push with the inside leg. Go easy, not too much, keep it simple. Go to the trot only after he figures it out at the walk.

See where you are in 90 days or so.

Vet? Not OPs horse. A little early to ring that bell anyway, he may just not know, give him a chance (and save the owner $800 or so for now anyway).

meupatdoes
May. 7, 2009, 11:29 AM
Physical issues aside, this usually is a result of a horse that is not even in his lateral yielding. So he probably snugs up against the right aids, is easier to bend to the left, is harder to spiral OUT going clockwise, and likes to fall in going on turns to the right. It is probably difficult to move his spine to the left, away from an inside right leg.

If this is the case, school him to the leftward lateral yield from the right inside leg, and then maintain that sungged-upness to the left outside aids while asking for the canter.

Sometimes asking for the canter with some extra inside leg will help.
He needs to be sitting on the OUTSIDE hind, and have extra freedom to bring the inside hind and foreleg up and forward.

cnvh
May. 7, 2009, 12:18 PM
When I acquired my 5-year old OTTB last fall, be wouldn't pick up his lead to the right for anything (big surprise). I tried everything-- asked with outside leg-inside rein, asked only on corners when he was bent properly, lifted the inside rein, threw all my weight outside, cantered on the incorrect lead in progressively smaller circles to encourage him to change, blah blah blah. Nothing worked, at least not reliably.

What finally worked made no sense to me whatsoever, but apparently it did for him-- I started asking bass-ackwards, with my OUTSIDE rein and INSIDE leg behind the girth. Once I asked like that, he'd get it about 95% of the time, whether we're in a corner, on a long side, whatever. He was initially REALLY unbalanced to the right, but he's been getting steadily better and now his left and right leads are pretty identical; I've also gradually weaned him off of the bass-ackwards aids, and he gets the correct one almost all the time, both directions.

Makes no sense, but it worked for us.

findeight
May. 7, 2009, 01:01 PM
What finally worked made no sense to me whatsoever, but apparently it did for him-- I started asking bass-ackwards, with my OUTSIDE rein and INSIDE leg behind the girth. ...
Makes no sense, but it worked for us.

Ummm...inside leg outside rein is NOT backwards but what most teach and how most are trained. You have to push the horse outside to free up the inside foreleg and weight the outside hind where the canter stride originates. The inside leg behind the girth is the only thing that is a little unusual, usually right at to unweight that side while the outside leg steps on the gas a bit behind the girth.

Inside rein can tip them inside and overweight the inside while lightening the outside-so you get the outside lead.

You may also be tipping your body down and inside or leading with the shoulder which also weights the wrong side. When you switched it up, you may have inadvertently corrected yourself.

Remember step OUT and push with inside leg while NOT yanking on either rein, contact and a little tug on the oputside rein for best results with sticky cantering issues.

CTRL ALT DELETE
May. 7, 2009, 01:28 PM
Thanks for the suggestions! I will definitely be trying some of these out for my ride tomorrow.
He is also fairly out of shape- his owner and him don't really get along under saddle, which is how I ended up in the picture. I'm planning on getting him a bit more in shape then talking to his owner and seeing if she'll truck him to my trainer so I can get some work done in a real ring, and maybe even have my trainer sit on him.

In regards to vet/chiro suggestions...I do not own the horse. I also have only ridden him twice, so maybe the third time will be the charm. I was looking for suggestions on how to coax it out of him, things I may have never thought to try. If I try all these suggestions, bring him to my trainer, etc. and he still does not get the lead? Then I might suggest a vet visit, but I really don't want to be stepping on any toes...I'm lucky enough to have permission to do what I want with the horse in the first place! :)

mojo7777
May. 7, 2009, 01:50 PM
Many moons ago, I had this exact problem. Picking up the right lead finally clicked with my little horse when I reasoned that he would naturally choose this lead when cantering across a hillside with the right leg on the downhill side. It only took a couple times on the hillside before he got the idea, and then it transferred easily to "the flat."

Fairview Horse Center
May. 7, 2009, 02:15 PM
Horses know their leads from birth, and will naturally choose the correct one as long as the rider's balance and aids do not interfere.

If you ride a figure 8 and ask for the canter depart just as you approach x going from the left circle to the right, they will pick it up easier. The body position is good for an easy right lead depart when the horse has been on left bend, and just beginning to straighten.

Another thing you can do is to set up corner cavalettis. I use 5 with the inside set at 4' intervals. The outside set at 5' intervals. Then you trot in, and as you approach the last pole, you push your inside hand and seatbone/hip forward, asking for canter over that last pole.

What you don't want to do is bend their heads/necks to the inside, so they "fall" out thru their outside shoulder. In that position, they will always strike off on their inside hind, giving you the outside lead.

cnvh
May. 7, 2009, 10:41 PM
Ummm...inside leg outside rein is NOT backwards but what most teach and how most are trained. You have to push the horse outside to free up the inside foreleg and weight the outside hind where the canter stride originates. The inside leg behind the girth is the only thing that is a little unusual, usually right at to unweight that side while the outside leg steps on the gas a bit behind the girth.

Inside rein can tip them inside and overweight the inside while lightening the outside-so you get the outside lead.

You may also be tipping your body down and inside or leading with the shoulder which also weights the wrong side. When you switched it up, you may have inadvertently corrected yourself.

Remember step OUT and push with inside leg while NOT yanking on either rein, contact and a little tug on the oputside rein for best results with sticky cantering issues.

I was always taught "outside leg behind the girth, inside rein for a little bend to the inside." (Granted, this was 25+ years ago, but anyway...) It's how I've always asked ever since, and with the exception of this horse, it's always worked. I'm not the straightest rider and I'm sure I was complicating things in ways I wasn't aware of. But this is the first horse I've ever ridden where I had to use a lot of INSIDE leg, significantly behind the girth, to ask. It was just very bizarre and counter to everything I've been taught.

MagicRoseFarm
May. 7, 2009, 11:24 PM
I would suggest a bit of bute for three days , the see what u have, if the issue is still the same, then it might not be pain..

one thing we used on OTTB's was a pole on the ground, always getting the horse there on a different diagonal pair

Riding in a straight line ask for the lead over the pole a few times , having left the trot at the pole after always the same "planting leg" or do not ask... then leave the work , and come back and use the other "planting leg"

many horses left to their own, will adjust to always leave the ground off one leg from the trot.. it is using this to help educate them about their body and balance that helps them with learnign to get the lead

CTRL ALT DELETE
May. 8, 2009, 05:57 PM
Thank you all so much for the suggestions! Today, we got the right lead! Not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES! Not consecutively, but still, three is much better then zero!

I ended up putting a ground pole across the track and trotted him over that a few times. After he got used to that idea, I asked for a canter over the pole and put my weight all to the left. He picked up his right lead! :) It was as unbalanced as they come, but I'm sure that will correct itself with time.