View Full Version : getting right lead over the jump

Nov. 13, 2011, 08:34 PM
My mare is "left handed" and 90% of the time lands on the left lead after a jump. When it comes to bending lines and tight turns that require a change to the right lead, I have a hard time asking for the right lead in the air/over the jump (which my trainer says is more desirable than swapping in the middle of the line, and obviously harder to do in a tight turn). I always look where I'm going (right) and use more right/inside rein, but I'm wondering what else I could be doing... any tips for setting up your horse to get the "right" (left or right) lead over a jump and still staying straight and balanced?

Nov. 13, 2011, 09:37 PM
A good tool is to practice over poles on the ground in a circle cantering to the right. Once your horse is holding the lead cantering over poles, then raise to a small vertical. As long as the horse is holding the lead you can raise the jump. Keep your left leg on so your horse does not over bend. Keep your hips in the center or slightly to the left. Do not lean to the right and don't over bend. I will take practice as most horses seem to prefer their left lead. Eventually your horse will become more comfortable on that lead and you will be able to ask for either lead over the jump.

Nov. 13, 2011, 09:56 PM
It's actually a misconception that looking to the right or turning right in the air will help you land on the right lead if your horse is a true lefty. Try cantering a jump at the end of your ring that you'd usually jump off your right lead off your left lead, cantering towards it diagonally with your your body open toward the left corner of the ring and jumping it diagonally. Your horse will start landing right. It's miraculous, I tell you.

Nov. 13, 2011, 10:23 PM
Good suggestions! I will try working on those exercises-- thanks!

Any reason why most horses are lefties (I could understand why TBs are!)?

Nov. 13, 2011, 10:27 PM
I have no suggestions, but I do know that my horse would be way happier if the entire world was on the right lead.

Nov. 14, 2011, 09:17 AM
Good suggestions! I will try working on those exercises-- thanks!

Any reason why most horses are lefties (I could understand why TBs are!)?

TBs in North America race to the left, but always start out on the right (outside) lead. So if a horse has had "good" race training, it is his right lead that he will automatically take in a transition either from a trot or from the starting gate. Since they are on the outside lead on the straight stretches, and switch to the inside lead for the turns, then back onto the outside lead as they reach the next straight stretch. Breaking from the gate, and starting out to gallop each morning (usually at the head of a straight stretch), it is the right lead that is required.

I don't think that most horses are lefties. I think that many horses have a favourate side, and must learn to be ambidexterous. They learn that as they learn to become more flexable. So basic bending exercises will help, with or without a pole or small jump.

Nov. 14, 2011, 11:24 AM
My horse LOVES getting it over the fence then trying on the ground. He is fully capable to do it on the ground, but hates to do it. And Im not overly balanced after I land to ask. For me and Forrest when we are doing anything that would involve me turning afterwards, all I have to do it look and Forrest will land on that lead, works everytime. However the only reason it works that way is becasue when I look I also lean to that side over the fence and he knows where I am going along with open rein.

The hard part is doing a single fence on a straight line that there is no turn for right away. I have learned that sitting balanced to the fence and a deep seat will allow me to leg yield him like I would ask for the right lead and as we go over the fence open the rein in the direction and he lands everytime. I cant honestly tell you how correct that is and Im still not perfect at it, but it works as long as I remember to try to do it and am balanced.

Good luck!

Nov. 14, 2011, 11:45 AM
NancyM: That is a fabulous post on a subject that I have had to repeat far too often when someone says RH's are always left handed. They are what their good training makes them.

And also: "learn to be ambidexterous. They learn that as they learn to become more flexable."

Right on again.

I always ask for lead change over the top of the fence while on course. All it takes is weighting the stirrup of the lead you want. No leaning just a slight step into that stirrup.

Nov. 14, 2011, 12:36 PM
LOVE this thread! We are having the same difficulty lately. Anyone know of any exercises to help promote correctness on the part of the rider to make the lead choice easier on the poor pony?!

Poles on a circle is a great suggestion, what else do we have?

Nov. 14, 2011, 05:16 PM
Someone once told me that if you want to land right, to shift your weight to the left side of the horse over the jump. Works when I have enough wherewithal to remember to do it. Often times when you look right, you lean right so beware of that when you try and get your leads.

Nov. 14, 2011, 05:30 PM
I was told what vbunny said. Makes sense -- if you want the left lead, their front right hits the ground first.

Nov. 14, 2011, 05:40 PM
Yes Vbunny is correct. If you lean to the right, your horse will land left for balance. Move your hips to the left over the jump and put your weight into your left stirrup. Practice first over poles tracking to right and then over small jumps, raising the jumps as you and your horse get comfortable.

Nov. 18, 2011, 11:57 PM
Thanks for the great ideas, and the side note on racehorses and leads... That's fascinating!

Nov. 19, 2011, 09:12 AM
The OTTB I rode years ago was always having problems picking up his left lead for the reasons mentioned (track training). The TB I'm riding now, on the other hand, much prefers his left lead and will land left 99% of the time. The only time he will land right is after we've done the jumping exercise/course two times in a row, then he's learned where to go.
Over the fence, I switch the position of my legs. The new inside leg shifts forward as the outside moves back. I try to stand in (weight) my outside stirrup and not over bend (over bent and the inside shoulder isn't free).
For this horse, his preference for the left lead probably has to do with stiffness or weakness in his left hind. On the right lead that left hind works alone and has to- ideally- reach under and provide the lift and impulsion. When were trotting left I sometimes have to work hard to get and keep his hindquarters along the bend, too.