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JackSprats Mom
Sep. 18, 2009, 06:52 PM
Ok so I'm pretty sure this problem is caused by me (although not helped as my horse is stiff to the right too).

My horse starts off ignoring my right leg and when tracking right wants to bend left (during the initial warm up of no rein contact just letting him walk a couple laps to loosen up).

He does this consistently, as in it hasn't improved in several months (obviously after he's warmed up he improves and works off the right side just fine)

I am very concious of my weight distribution as I wondered if stiffness is causing me to weight a seat bone more then the other but can't say that I feel a difference.

So, what obvious thing am I missing thats causing this? Any suggestions?

slc2
Sep. 18, 2009, 07:07 PM
Ok so I'm pretty sure this problem is caused by me (although not helped as my horse is stiff to the right too).

My horse starts off ignoring my right leg and when tracking right wants to bend left (during the initial warm up of no rein contact just letting him walk a couple laps to loosen up).

He does this consistently, as in it hasn't improved in several months (obviously after he's warmed up he improves and works off the right side just fine)

I am very concious of my weight distribution as I wondered if stiffness is causing me to weight a seat bone more then the other but can't say that I feel a difference.

So, what obvious thing am I missing thats causing this? Any suggestions?

--I would recommend not warming up without rein contact, as it is not good for dressage training. When you drop the contact on a lower level more green horse, you can't bend your horse correctly, and when he isn't bending, you can't school him about responding to your leg if he isn't responding. There's also the more basic problem that horses in dressage need to be ridden on a contact. It may be light to start the ride, but it should be there. Riding on a dropped rein doesn't have any schooling value - the horse just winds up unsteadier and more confused when contact is picked up.

--Consider not warming up that way. Instead, warmup on a long rein at a walk briefly, but with a connection and a light contact, and bend your horse to the left...to a slow count...doing a slight leg yield, then bend him to the right, to a slow count, doing a slight leg yield from that side. Then go on to working at a trot doing the same exercise, with a light contact, but with a connection and bending.

--If your horse does not respond to a leg aid, reinforce it. Keep it simple. Give the leg aid, if there is no response within a second, reinforce the leg aid with your whip, and praise the horse when he responds. Then repeat the leg aid, and look for a response. No response, use your whip. When he responds without the 'backup' praise him. Do not use a firmer leg aid and keep re-applying it without any response. Leg, nothing, whip, horse responds, big Good Boy.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Sep. 18, 2009, 07:47 PM
If I don't do any ground warm up first, I often warm up at first on a loose rein (or I just drop the reins, when you have a nutso OTTB you can do this) and I do some exercises to make sure I'm (1) not stiff (2) not crooked (3) feel how his back is. Often I do this without stirrups. All I ask for, at this point, is forward. And I don't just grab contact, I ask for it in steps, when I'm ready. I ask my horse to go into one bend - position left, then neutral, then position right, and as we move forward I will start to ask for more contact and more stepping up from behind.

I really try and get a feel for (as my trainer calls it) "the four corners," and where I am. It is amazing how you think you are open and you are really blocking - it doesn't have to be your whole body, just a small part.

I have this funky left hand. It used to be dominant (I played sports with it, I drew with it, I eat with it) but over time my right hand has become dominant (everything that broke broke on my left side - wrist, hand, fingers multiple times). Now that I am aware of it, it feels like it's paralyzed (not that it is, it is just magnified to my senses). My hand is actually what is causing the blockage. It's not obviously grabbing back or swinging wildly, it just doesn't allow, and it often says, "down on your forehand" or "I know I asked but this hand ain't gonna let you step through."

I also have a weaker left leg, so my right side has compensated to cover.

You know, it can be the smallest things. But they are so sensitive, it is huge to them.

My trainer had the idea to wear a brace - because then if I try to do some of these things, Ill be alerted far more quickly. And I tried it out last night - and oh my. Did my horse salivate equally for the first time in ages? Yes. Was he equally supple? Yes. Am I a freaking moron sometimes? ....yeeesss!!!

angel
Sep. 18, 2009, 09:31 PM
When you are riding on the loose rein, are you riding with one hand, or with both hands? When you are riding on a clockwise track, which of your legs feels to be more forward? Are you riding with your toes pointed to the ground? Which of your legs feels more closely in contact with the horse's side? Is your left elbow away from your body while your right elbow is held close to it? How close are your shoulder blades to your spine? Are they equally close, or is one closer than the other? Which shoulder blade is closer?

ThreeFigs
Sep. 18, 2009, 11:10 PM
Do you have an instructor or ground person to observe your position? As has been suggested by the previous posters, this could be due to a very small, seemingly insignificant asymmetry in your body.

Or your horse could just prefer to travel crooked, in which case you do need to warm up with enough contact to ask him to bend right with your inside hand and leg. It sounds to me like you need to insist that he listen to that right leg, and do not allow him to push back against you with his ribs/shoulder to the right. Exaggerate the right bend a little, and when riding him to the left, think riding him in mild counter-bend, rather than bending him left. That just plays into his tendency to push his ribs into your leg on the right. Eventually he will become straight, but you must be sure you're not doing something to encourage him to bend left when traveling to the right.

mbm
Sep. 18, 2009, 11:34 PM
your horse sounds very normal as all horses start out "crooked" and that is what dressage training is supposed to do over time - help create a straight horse that can work evenly into both reins etc.

so what you are experiencing is normal. you may or may not be making things worse.....

as for walking on a lose rein - this is fine... you should walk your horse for about 10 - 15 minutes before you start the real warmup.... everyone i know does this walk on a loose rein or at most a light contact....

once you have walked for 10 minutes, then start your real warmup and at this point you should have a contact - an even feel on both reins, even if this over bends the horse one way or another..... don't worry about this .. just concentrate on an even feel in the reins....

if your horse is heavier on the left then you want to always be opening and closing your fingers on that side gently asking the horse to soften but dont give up contact on the right rein...

do a lot of LYs, keeping even contact and dont worry too much where the neck is as the neck will align when the horse moves correctly and when that happens the horse will also feel even on both reins.... this is what you want ...

it will probably be easier to leg yield away from your left leg then your right....

do a lot of bended lines - serpentines are good as it gives the inside leg a break each time you cross the center line.... by doing this you are trying to get the horse to reach into the contact evenly.....

if you do your work correctly the horse will do a bunch of releases (ie yes responses) and relax over the top line... at this point the horse should be bended correctly, working into the outside rein and then you can flex it to the inside a tad....

this is very hard work for the horse as you are asking it to work unused muscles - kinda like you learning to write with your non writing hand....

so dont over do it, but dont expect miracles in one day either... it is a new way of moving for you and your horse.

good luck and do get competent instruction which will help you a ton.

Dune
Sep. 19, 2009, 11:23 AM
Am I correct in understanding that you are worried about which direction his head/neck are in before you even take up contact? :confused:

slc2
Sep. 19, 2009, 03:23 PM
I know, that surprised me too.

2WBs1TB
Sep. 20, 2009, 09:18 AM
If it is extreme, as in the horse completely falling in on his shoulder, then yes, there is a reason for concern. Some OTTBs do this because their training has been so "one sided" and it is very difficult to overcome.

meupatdoes
Sep. 20, 2009, 10:12 AM
Am I correct in understanding that you are worried about which direction his head/neck are in before you even take up contact? :confused:

She never said anything about his head/neck.

She discussed his bend.

Am I correct in understanding that you think "bend" is only about the direction of the head and neck?

slc2
Sep. 20, 2009, 10:44 AM
No, you're not correct, like all the many other things you accuse me of believing, I also don't believe that.

meupatdoes
Sep. 20, 2009, 10:59 AM
No, you're not correct, like all the many other things you accuse me of believing, I also don't believe that.

Slick, I wasn't even responding to you.
Read it again.

Ajierene
Sep. 20, 2009, 11:24 AM
I always warm up on a loose rein and on a 20M or so circle. It helps that the circle has been defined in the ring by my constantly warming up in the same spot and the ring never gets dragged or anything.

This does help me as I can see where my horse is having issues, if any. I work on long and low first every time we start a dressage session and the length of time going each way depends on the way my horse is moving. This has helped stretch my mare out in a tight direction in a way that is relaxing and somewhat independent of me. It helps her be more supple for the next ride and so on. I do not pick up contact until she is moving at the walk and trot long and low and bending on the circle.

She has had time where if I let the rein go one way, she immediately turns the other direction. I know where this comes from in my mare, so your experiences may be different, but this works for me.

DressageReine
Sep. 20, 2009, 11:58 AM
Gotta add my two sense because I struggle with this issue daily! After a month or so of my horse ignoring my right leg more and more, it got so bad that even at a walk he would throw his right shoulder in and haunches and just completely blow through me (what it felt like). It was strange because when we halted, he would move off my right leg just fine to do a TOF, so I know he KNEW what I meant, I thought he was just being disrespectful. I was so frustrated that day I knew I wasn't going to get anywhere so I just got off to put him away.

I talked to my BO who is an equine massage therapist, and she looked at him really quick. She stood on one side and pulled his tail to see if he would bend one way, and he tensed up like you wouldn't believe! He did the same the other way too, but less severe. She then looked at his back muscles, and as she ran her hand down his back and his the lumbar area, his whole body spasmed! It was really shocking.

So his problem is not that he didn't want to contract his right side, but that he didn't want to stretch his left. It's been a week and I've been massaging his lumbar region everyday, and we have a good chiro/massage person coming next Thursday.

Definitely check him for soreness, that made ALL the difference in my guy! Now I feel bad for insisting he try to bend for so long! He's normally such a willing partner, so it was weird when he was so defiant. Good luck!

Dune
Sep. 20, 2009, 12:05 PM
She never said anything about his head/neck.

She discussed his bend.

Am I correct in understanding that you think "bend" is only about the direction of the head and neck?


Actually my question was directed to the OP, who I wish would come back and answer, then perhaps I'd have something to add. I think it would be more helpful if you had answers for the OP's questions (or more questions for *her*) than for the responders. And if you still have more questions, start your own thread. ;)

meupatdoes
Sep. 20, 2009, 01:30 PM
Actually my question was directed to the OP, who I wish would come back and answer, then perhaps I'd have something to add. I think it would be more helpful if you had answers for the OP's questions (or more questions for *her*) than for the responders. And if you still have more questions, start your own thread. ;)

Your question was so clearly aimed at being helpful too. Not trying to pithily imply that she is "doin' it rong" in any way. The general mood of your post to me seemed like, 'Ach, I am all agoggle at your bumbling attempts,' complete with the little 'Ach Mein Gott' emoticon at the end.

I am surprised that nobody has mentioned most horses' natural, leftward crookedness. Most horses prefer to contract the left side and stretch the right. They generally prefer to be little backwards Cs, along their whole spine, not just in their head and neck. It is perfectly good riding to notice this before "taking up contact". It is something that needs to be addressed in the horse from the start of his training through the end.

So, OP, that is a very natural tendency you are experiencing there.
Rather than trying to pull his head in to the inside, I would focus on trying to 'stabilize' his nose and then pushing his shoulder to the left away from that stabilized place to counteract the tendency. Aim for a feeling that his nose and hips are staying in the same spot, but his rib cage is curving back and forth between them.
Spend more time going right than left, but give frequent changes of direction.

OK Dune, now it's your turn to come up with something helpful.

slc2
Sep. 20, 2009, 01:49 PM
I'm with Dune on this one. I am surprised anyone would expect what the OP expects of a young or green horse. I just don't think it's realistic.

Horses don't actually all show left crookedness as m. has said. Crookedness and its symptoms varies, sometimes a horse feels very strong in the rein on one side, sometimes neither rein feels stiff/strong and the horse just falls in, sometimes it's more the shoulder that seems to fall in, sometimes it drops the hind quarter in more than the shoulder and gets quick on one side.

And the best case is with the horse that starts out very even. Not all horses are crooked. Not everyone gets that kind of horse, though.

Horses aren't, in most cases, born quite as crooked as they then become if they aren't getting correct training. Not correcting crookedness means a slight problem becomes much more. Too, a pro will often take a horse that's initially extremely crooked and right from the start, by appropriate work, bring the horse to a much straighter posture.

But the assumption is that the horse is turning its head one way when warming up with no rein contact, because it is crooked through the shoulder, body and hind quarter, which doesn't make any sense to me as a 100% always true thing. Crookedness, unless extremely severe, shows itself when the rider picks up a contact and asks both legs to push forward in the same way.

I'd be cautious in assuming what is causing the horse doing this - quite often a greeen or young horse does this simply as he gets used to having a bit in his mouth, and it doesn't indicate an actual crookedness at all, just a twisting of the head as the horse figures out accepting the bit.

meupatdoes
Sep. 20, 2009, 02:27 PM
I'm with Dune on this one. I am surprised anyone would expect what the OP expects of a young or green horse. I just don't think it's realistic.

Horses don't actually all show left crookedness as m. has said. Crookedness and its symptoms varies, sometimes a horse feels very strong in the rein on one side, sometimes neither rein feels stiff/strong and the horse just falls in, sometimes it's more the shoulder that seems to fall in, sometimes it drops the hind quarter in more than the shoulder and gets quick on one side.

And the best case is with the horse that starts out very even. Not all horses are crooked. Not everyone gets that kind of horse, though.

Horses aren't, in most cases, born quite as crooked as they then become if they aren't getting correct training. Not correcting crookedness means a slight problem becomes much more. Too, a pro will often take a horse that's initially extremely crooked and right from the start, by appropriate work, bring the horse to a much straighter posture.

But the assumption is that the horse is turning its head one way when warming up with no rein contact, because it is crooked through the shoulder, body and hind quarter, which doesn't make any sense to me as a 100% always true thing. Crookedness, unless extremely severe, shows itself when the rider picks up a contact and asks both legs to push forward in the same way.

I'd be cautious in assuming what is causing the horse doing this - quite often a greeen or young horse does this simply as he gets used to having a bit in his mouth, and it doesn't indicate an actual crookedness at all, just a twisting of the head as the horse figures out accepting the bit.

Slick, I thought at the very least you read the books of the great masters to have something to parrot before dispensing all of your advice.
You seriously think that the general tendency for horses to be left-sided is hogwash?


There is a reason Heydebreck's last words on his death bed were, "Rechter zuegel!........rechter zuegel!"
(Source: Hans v Heydebreck: "Die Deutsche Dressurpruefung das Gebrauchspferd, p 217.)

See also: "Usually, the horse's left side is stronger. The muscles of the left will be slighlty shorter and tighter than those of the right, where the muscles are longer and not so strong. The left hindquarter will be flexed more and carry more of the horse's weight, while the right leg will be straighter and stiffer. When at liberty, the horse will tend to go to the left, and will show a preference for cantering on the left lead."
Walter Zettl, 'Dressage in Harmony', p 88.

And: Ride your horse forward and put it straight. (Quoting Steinbrecht there, but I digress) This is our next training aim. Experts have discovered that nearly all young horses have difficulties in going straight. One talks of the natural crookedness of the horse. As most people are right handed so are most horses bent to the left.
Reiner Klimke, Basic Training of the Young Horse p 52.

While I still did not phrase my comment as a "100% always true thing" (please pay careful attention to the words 'most,' -as opposed to 'all', and 'generally' -as opposed to 'invariably') I have not found my experience to contradict Heydebreck's, Zettl's or Klimke's.

What exactly is the OP exepecting unrealistically of her horse?
She has noted he tends to be bent to the left, which is no surprise since legions of riders before her have noticed the same, and asked whether it was something she was doing (Maybe, or maybe it's the natural tendency of her horse, or a combination of both) and for assistance in addressing it. None of which, for the record, you have provided.

Ajierene
Sep. 20, 2009, 05:15 PM
Interesting, meupatdoes, the research (conducted by Princeton University, Yerkes Primate Research Center, University of Washington, etc.) that I have read shows that animals are about 50/50 in terms of 'sideness'. Meaning, 50 percent of the time the animal will have the right side of the body be stronger and more dominant, while 50 percent of the time will find that the left side of the animal's body will be stronger and more dominant.

the difference that can emerge with training animals is human dominance. About 85 percent of the human population is right sided and about 15 percent is left sided. A right sided person can influence a horse's sideness in terms of how crooked they are and how stiff they are on one side, when training a young horse. I believe this is what Reiner Klimke was referring to when he discusses human handedness compared to horse's inclination to bend.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Sep. 20, 2009, 08:39 PM
I think it's very commendable that the OP noticed the issue and is looking to address it. It is so much more difficult when your own issues exacerbate the problem for the horse, and of course, unless those are addressed, your struggles continue.

I wish there was a simple way - like when you get a filling or crown put in at the dentist, and they give you the carbon paper to bite down on so you can see where something needs to be adjusted. It is so very easy to convince yourself you are truly straight when you are not (because many times when you do achieve straightness it is so different you feel crooked!).

OP - do you have good eyes on the ground? Mirrors aren't always very helpful as you'd have to keep focusing on yourself and not so much on your horse. Have you tried books like Sally Swift's and Mary Wanless'? Different visual imagery, but when you find something that helps, it's wonderful.

Dune
Sep. 21, 2009, 11:08 AM
Your question was so clearly aimed at being helpful too. Not trying to pithily imply that she is "doin' it rong" in any way. The general mood of your post to me seemed like, 'Ach, I am all agoggle at your bumbling attempts,' complete with the little 'Ach Mein Gott' emoticon at the end.

I am surprised that nobody has mentioned most horses' natural, leftward crookedness. Most horses prefer to contract the left side and stretch the right. They generally prefer to be little backwards Cs, along their whole spine, not just in their head and neck. It is perfectly good riding to notice this before "taking up contact". It is something that needs to be addressed in the horse from the start of his training through the end.

So, OP, that is a very natural tendency you are experiencing there.
Rather than trying to pull his head in to the inside, I would focus on trying to 'stabilize' his nose and then pushing his shoulder to the left away from that stabilized place to counteract the tendency. Aim for a feeling that his nose and hips are staying in the same spot, but his rib cage is curving back and forth between them.
Spend more time going right than left, but give frequent changes of direction.

OK Dune, now it's your turn to come up with something helpful.

Wow, it must be a very unhappy place you come from, if you read all that into one question. :lol: I'm still waiting for the OP to clarify her question. :yes:

slc2
Sep. 21, 2009, 06:38 PM
I think the reason 'most people haven't mentioned a horse's natural leftward crookedness' is because it doesn't exist. Some horses start out a little crooked left, some a little crooked right, some start out rather straight. They may not STAY that way, LOL....

meupatdoes
Sep. 21, 2009, 11:33 PM
I think the reason 'most people haven't mentioned a horse's natural leftward crookedness' is because it doesn't exist. Some horses start out a little crooked left, some a little crooked right, some start out rather straight. They may not STAY that way, LOL....

Takes some cajones to ixnay what Steinbrecht, Zettl, Heydebreck and Klimke (to speak only of books that I happen to have directly on hand at this time) have all seen fit not only to say but to publish.

rileyt
Sep. 22, 2009, 08:30 AM
A couple of thoughts for you, OP...

1) It is not uncommon for a horse (especially a green/young horse) to be somewhat crooked. That seems to be what you're experiencing, because on a loose rein, he *should* go straight.

2) Its very hard (maybe impossible?) to fix this by riding on a loose rein. It's better to work on it when this horse is on the contact, as only then can you really influence his back and help rehabilitate him.

3) Despite number 2, I think warming up on a loose rein is a helpful thing with most horses. But he should still be stretching over his back, and seeking the contact... so I'd focus on that when you do your loose rein warm up.

4) The real question I think you're asking is, is the horse naturally crooked? Or are you making him crooked? It's impossible to tell from my computer, but I do have a suggestion for something you should check: I have seen many riders who block the horse with their left thigh. If the left thigh is pressed into the horse's back, the horse will pull the left side of his back down, and voila, you have a crooked horse. I think this is a common problem for two reasons: 1) most riders are weaker in their left leg, so instead of having a strong, stable, long leg with their weight evenly distributed down it... they "anchor" it with their upper thigh and hip, creating a pressure point against the horse's back. 2) We are often told to use the inside leg to create the bend. The harder you use that inside (right) leg, the more anchor you need in the other leg (your left, in this situation) to stabilize your body against the pressure you're applying with your right leg. So, if you already have a weak left leg, you are MORE likely to create that pressure point with your left thigh/hip.
That is a very long-winded explanation of this: Make sure that you are really really opening your left thigh/seat, and giving him a place for his back to go. This is especially true when you are simultaneously using your right leg.

It may well be that, especially at the free walk,... this is NOT a rider problem. It may be that he's just crooked... but its something to think about anyway... because with any horse that tends to improperly bend left, you want to be conscious about the same issues (and creating space for the left side of his back) when you ride him on the contact.

Good luck

JackSprats Mom
Sep. 24, 2009, 10:21 PM
Sorry for the late replies all. First chance I've had to sit down and log in for a while.



Am I correct in understanding that you are worried about which direction his head/neck are in before you even take up contact? :confused:


The answer to that would be yes. I am concerned that, on a loose rein, he has a significant bend to the left. Even on a loose rein he should be responding correctly to weight aids and leg aids and so it concerns me that there is an obvious issue here.

That said I don't expect my horse to work through it on a loose rein. He comes through the issue nicely after a warm up which includes asking him to stretch F/D/O at all three gaits and then some LY.

While my horse is still fairly young (6) he is old enough and well schooled enough to understand weight/leg aids on a loose rein (he's going 1st level nicely schooling some 2nd-mostly the lateral stuff) so my thought is this is me (perhaps not helped by him). If this is the case then although I can correct it with contact my weight or something is obviously off.

I've had my instructor watch me and she can't see anything obvious but as we all know the most minute thing can make a difference especially as my horse is very sensitive through his back,

RileyT gave me some food for thought which I will look at as I had mainly been focusing on my seat bones and perhaps have missed a thigh issue I didn't know I had...its hard to relook/refocus when you ride the same horse each day and I guess what I wanted was suggestions like look at your thighs, focus on x or y...something that I may have missed.

Hopefully this answers your questions. I guess I feel this may be showing an issue that I am having or maybe, like many have said, I'm reading too much into the bend on a loose rein :confused:;)

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Sep. 25, 2009, 01:57 AM
rileyt, great post! very useful.

slc2
Sep. 25, 2009, 05:30 AM
If a horse is turning his head to one side when the reins are dropped, I would suggest that the problem isn't that 'he's crooked' at all, but that he simply isn't marching forward in the walk or paying attention to his rider. With a young horse it's fairly accepted that he isn't going to be paying 100% attention to his rider when warming up, but the rider would be working on getting that attention more focused, make it a very purposeful walk that keeps his attention, even when walking on the buckle, and to just give a little bit of an indication with the rein and leg to try and turn his head a little straighter. You can make a little direction here and there with the leg and rein even when riding on the buckle, without losing the value of stretching in the warmup, even if you are so unfortunately, against riding on a contact when stretching and warming up(no one said a hard, agressive, unyielding contact, just a contact, any contact).

Most of us tend to walk as if we're going to an Elephant's Funeral, and walking marching forward purposefully fixes an awful lot of problems.

Dune
Sep. 25, 2009, 12:03 PM
First of all, OP, thanks for coming back. :) I agree with a lot of what slc posted and Rileyt's post is good as well. I guess you can decide to worry about it or not. If you are truly just getting on your horse and warming up by walking around on the buckle and said horse is "crooked" I would really try not to read too much into it. As someone already pointed out by picking others apart, it's not truly "bend" anyway if it's just the head/neck that are googling about. The horse is just warming up himself and may have some stiffness issues to work out or may like oogling the scenery. If you've already done that and you are in the arena doing loose rein walk "work" then you can make subtle adjustments either via your body position or the reins. I would make little notes if said horse's chiro/body worker/vet starts to make comments about him being particularly stiff/sore/out in one particular area on a consistent basis or if you notice the muscling being distinctly different on one side versus the other. Hard for us to tell via the internet, maybe post a video if you're really that concerned???

JackSprats Mom
Sep. 27, 2009, 06:56 PM
Thanks Dune, maybe I am worrying over nothing...that said I am trying to persuade DH to come up and tape me tomorrow so I can see how things are progressing (or not!) and if he's there in time for the initial mount I'll post it.

Seems to be a general consensus though that what he does bend wise on a loose rein shouldn't be a concern....

rcloisonne
Sep. 27, 2009, 08:55 PM
Interesting, meupatdoes, the research (conducted by Princeton University, Yerkes Primate Research Center, University of Washington, etc.) that I have read shows that animals are about 50/50 in terms of 'sideness'. Meaning, 50 percent of the time the animal will have the right side of the body be stronger and more dominant, while 50 percent of the time will find that the left side of the animal's body will be stronger and more dominant.
In most primates perhaps but the study of primates does not tell us much about the horse.

Ask almost any experienced farrier and he/she will tell you one foot of many horses is held back consistantly when grazing. This often results in that foot being slightly smaller than the other. That foot is the right one about 85% of the time. Not at all surprising there would be some crookedness or preference for the left lead.

BTW, cockatoos prefer their left foot for holding their food 87% of the time. We're not the only species with strong sidedness tendencies.

slc2
Sep. 27, 2009, 09:04 PM
I don't think the preference for a lead comes out of putting one foot forward to graze, I think it comes from the hind leg and how the horse habitually angles his body. When not being ridden, I think horses pay very little attention to cantering on one lead, and they often canter disunited or swap leads behind or in front without paying much attention to staying on one lead, so that they can turn this way and that easily. I don't think most horses lead with one leg when grazing, either.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Sep. 27, 2009, 09:17 PM
My horse does. Now, which came first? Who knows. And almost always, he grazes with left leg front.

Of course, he could just be unique.

slc2
Sep. 27, 2009, 09:43 PM
Perhaps. Perhaps not.

But I think that most problems with the leads come from training/riding issues, and I don't think they come from which foot the horse grazes with in front, whether most horses have a preference of which foot to put in front or not. Always amazing and humbling when someone else gets on the horse and has no problem; makes it look less like some intrinsic thing and more like PLBKAC.

JackSprats Mom
Sep. 27, 2009, 10:16 PM
Ask almost any experienced farrier and he/she will tell you one foot of many horses is held back consistantly when grazing. This often results in that foot being slightly smaller than the other. That foot is the right one about 85% of the time. Not at all surprising there would be some crookedness or preference for the left lead.

Actually this is very true (not sure about the grazing theory) BUT my new farrier also confirmed that the 'tight' side of the horse will have a smaller more upright hoof. Its my horses right hoof which is his tigher side. Now like I said, not sure the cause is grazing or....

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Sep. 28, 2009, 12:01 AM
I don't think it's grazing that causes this, just that the one leg is always out front, and that would be the "preferred" leg. Just like what hand you eat with (cultural mores notwithstanding).