View Full Version : I have a lead question!!!!

Mar. 20, 2012, 12:16 AM
My horse will NOT pick up her left lead. I dont have a lesson on her every time i ride so i was eondering some ideas to work with her on my own. She came off the track so you'd think her left would be her easy way. She gets frustrated when i keep stopping her and starting her. Then when i go home and think about it i get frustrated cause i feel it should come natural.
Anyways any advice would help!!!:confused:

Mar. 20, 2012, 12:24 AM
You didn't say if you have trouble cantering to the left in lessons, or if it is only while you are alone.

I would consider not cantering outside of lessons until you can do it comfortably on both leads in you lessons.

Mar. 20, 2012, 07:51 AM
I, too, had an OTTB at one time that was very difficult about picking up his left lead. I needed to be very deliberate about the way I set him up for a left lead canter departure (properly bent, balanced, etc.) or he would pop the right lead every time. Be sure that you aren't rushing into it. As his training progressed the problem got much better but he always needed a mindful set up for the canter in that direction! Funny thing is he had automatic lead changes and if he did pick up the wrong lead, he would promptly swap off it anyway!

Mar. 20, 2012, 08:53 AM
Lol i still had trouble in lesson...but i did get it...its likr a hiy or miss thing... and my mare will pick up the wrong one...sometimes switch it over a pole...but eill just continue to just canter on the wrong till i stop her....and we arr working on not rushing :)

Mar. 20, 2012, 10:30 AM
I would recommend not cantering on your own either way unless in lessons so your trainer can help. If you only canter her to the right on your own, she will get more used to only cantering that way.

TPF Hunter
Mar. 20, 2012, 11:33 AM
Is she well behaved enough to lunge? I would lunge her on the left lead a good bit so she is comfortable and learns to balance in that direction.

If you do choose to try and canter her when you ride, make sure you are settling her up for success. Moving forward walk... have her moving off of your outside leg and ask approaching in corner and do NOT lean to the inside. If you lean to the inside to "help' the horse you are putting weight on their inside shoulder so it makes it hard for the horse to be comfortable picking up that lead.


Mar. 20, 2012, 12:20 PM
Racehorses (here in the us) run counter clockwise around the track. However, if you watch a race, they all begin on the right lead, and only switch for the turn to the inside leg. They're trained that way :-)
Left lead issues are a very common training problem for ottbs. The one I rode in high school took a year to reliably get his left.

I definitely agree with not cantering on your own without your trainer's input, or a very consistent clear signal for the left.... You don't want to confuse or reinforce the picking up of the wrong lead, and too much right lead cantering (just avoiding the left problems) won't make it any easier for him to pick up and hold his left lead.

Good luck!

Mar. 20, 2012, 12:25 PM
Does she have trouble staying on the left lead, or just picking up the left lead? If you get the correct (left) lead, does she try to break or switch leads?

Mar. 20, 2012, 12:34 PM
How long has your horse been off the track? There are a lot of balance and strength issues that many OTTB's can have coming off the track just due to the nature of how they run when racing.

She has the opposite problem. Her left lead is ridiculously easy to get , but for the right I have to set her up correctly. I have to absolutely balanced in the saddle, bend her, and usually be on a circle to get it the first time. If she doesn't give it right away I slow her trot way down and let her relax for a minute or two by doing some walk/trot transitions, circles or something else to take her mind off me asking for her harder lead.

Ask your trainer about exercises you can do to strengthen her weak side and balance her.

Mar. 20, 2012, 12:52 PM
When you are preparing for the transition, where is the weight in her shoulder? Does she tend to weight her inside front or her outside in preparation? If the steps before the transition feel more like a shoulder in, then focus on getting her weight on outside. Some people may exaggerate this with some haunches in but I tend to not want to do that because I don't want to be in the dressage arena cueing for the canter and having my horse doing a nice little haunches in! I find I have to really concentrate on literally moving the weight to the outside shoulder and then asking for the canter. If I don't deliberately do this, the horse I have been riding will not pick up her left lead. Just a thought.

Mar. 20, 2012, 02:49 PM
She has been off the track since november, and she doesnt have a problem staying on the left lead... i have to push her a little more because she wants to break into the trot...its not a physical thing i guess its something she didnt have an issue with before, she is only 4 so shes still young and learning. I do put a lot of weight into my outside stirrup to try to balance her and set her up better, but she still picks up the wrong lead

Mar. 20, 2012, 02:52 PM
Your trainer sees you every day and -- hopefully -- is helping you learn to ride and train this horse. All the rest of us on COTH know is that you can't get the left lead outside of lessons (you still haven't said it you can get the correct lead in lessons?).

As I said before, I would stop trying to canter on your own. Tell your trainer that you aren't going to canter outside of lessons until you can get the lead properly 95% of the time during your lessons. Ask her to make sure that it is something that you work on together.

Mar. 20, 2012, 04:03 PM
My trainer is helping...i was just asking for some more advice i could do on my own, i mentioned how i did get the lead in lesson... some of the time... its like a hit or miss thing...i most of the time cant get it. I want to work with her cantering on my own, thats why i was asking u guys. My trainer does help when i ask, just seeing if u guys had some other tricks.

Mar. 20, 2012, 04:06 PM
You've gotten a few suggestions here, I'm just warning you that if you're already having trouble, trying out "tricks" that you get on the internet may not be the best idea. You said that you are already frustrated and that your horse is frustrated. Going off on your own and trying a million different ways to pick up the left lead is just going to freak the both of you out even more than you already are.

Because of this, and because you DO have access to a trainer, you should ask HER to help you with this. She is the only one who ca see exactly what it is that you are doing, and is the only one who can hop on the horse and see what is really happening.

Actually, that's a good question -- what does the horse do when your trainer tries to pick up the left lead? That'll help determine if it is a physical problem with the horse, a training problem with the horse, or a problem with the way that you are asking.

Mar. 20, 2012, 04:23 PM
Have you checked her right hind for any issues? The right hind is the first step of the left lead canter and it needs to be strong enough to lift the other 3 legs (and the rest of her, and you) off the ground and into the canter.

As mentioned, be sure you are setting her up well from an active walk, a bit of an iside bend, preferably into a corner.

Mar. 20, 2012, 04:26 PM
She said when she first came she didnt have a problem on it...but im the only one who rides her... even when she sees i asked her the right way she still doesnt do it... i will just ask my trainer to help me when ever im ready to canter to the left

Sing Mia Song
Mar. 20, 2012, 04:43 PM
You can also do a search on here for other threads on this topic. It comes up quite often, because there is a general misperception that racing TBs only use the left lead. But as noted above, they are taught to use the right lead on the straight, the left lead on turns, and swap back again on the straight. And starting gates are never set on a turn.

Generally what I do with my OTTBs is to evaluate the quality of each lead of the canter by picking up the right and then changing direction down the diagonal over a pole on the ground. My last OTTB was so automatic that he wouldn't hold the left lead down the long side of the ring until he had done a lot of strengthening lateral work at the trot.

There's lots of exercises to get them to pick up the left lead (I personally like ground poles or crossrails on the turn with an opening inside rein), but they first have to be strong enough to do it and--most importantly--you have to be able to work on it without getting flustered or frustrated.

Right now, your horse is doing what has always been expected of her. Rider asked "canter?" and the correct response has always been "right lead." Suddenly you're telling her that what she has always known and believed in is wrong.

Think about it this way--what if you suddenly landed in a country where shaking your head meant "yes" and nodding it meant "no?" It would take you a while to develop the correct reflexes, and you'd still mess up every once in a while. By the same token, it's going to take a while for your horse to learn the new customs of Hunterland.

It's easy to mess this up by getting frustrated, so I agree with the poster that advised you to concentrate on this in lessons. You have to be quiet and consistent until she develops the ability, and that may take weeks or months. Some will always need to be set up for it.

Mar. 20, 2012, 04:57 PM
I'd ask your trainer to hop on the horse. In fifteen minutes she can probably solve your entire problem.

Mar. 20, 2012, 06:21 PM
Can you point the horse's nose to the left but still push her out to the right and prevent her from turning to follow her nose?

Can you (just to test) bend her significantly to the left but still travel straight up the longside without turning?

If this is hard or you end up promptly off the rail heading for the middle, the problem is that you have not installed sufficient ability to send her away from your left leg toward the outside on the right. If she is sitting on your left leg the left "side" of her body will be too heavy for the left lead to come through. Keep both your and her weight "off" the inside pair of legs so that lead has room to come through. No leaning in over the wither!

Come up the quarterline, open (not pull back) your inside rein to bring her nose IN, use your inside leg to send her OUT to the rail, and then cue with outside leg when you get to the rail. It helps if you time your arrival at the rail to be just before the short side turn.

Posting on the wrong diagonal also helps.

Mar. 20, 2012, 06:37 PM
Does she ever pick up the left lead when she's turned out? If not, I'd wonder about hock pain.

Mar. 20, 2012, 08:01 PM
Having your trainer or another professional give her a few pro rides sounds like a great idea.
Secondly, I would try, trotting down the long side of your ring make a circle about halfway down - just as you come back to the rail - ask her to canter. Try it in both directions, the circle will help get her bent correctly and the fence line in front of her will encourage her to pick up the correct lead.

Mar. 20, 2012, 11:07 PM
Thats one thing i dont understand....how can posting on the wrong diagonal if your trotting when you post...not cantering? Lol

Mar. 21, 2012, 01:34 AM
Thats one thing i dont understand....how can posting on the wrong diagonal if your trotting when you post...not cantering? Lol

The horse strikes off into the canter from his outside hind.

Most riders naturally use their leg in the sitting phase of the posting trot. It is tough to cue when you are mid-post.

Therefore, changing your diagonal changes the timing of your cue to better align your timing with the outside hind. When you are sitting (cuing) the outside hind is about to leave the ground, as opposed to already committed to its trot stride.

Some horses differ in which timing works best for them. Some dressage trainers cue legyield with the "wrong diagonal" timing, because the inside hind is swinging and you can influence it over, others say cue legyield with the "correct diagonal" timing, because then the inside hind is "about to leave the ground" and you can tell it what to do in the next step it takes. Personally, my horses don't care (which is really great for me because I can't for the life of me keep "about to leave the ground" straight without doing it out slo-mo with my fingers on the table) and I think some horses have quicker reaction times so some might be able to change their inside hind trajectory mid stride and others may need the extra notice when they are "about to leave the ground."

So basically if you change your diagonal you might change your timing to something that is more suited to your horse's reaction time.

Mar. 21, 2012, 09:42 AM
Ok thank you...that makes sence

Mar. 25, 2012, 03:55 PM
I just wanted to say i had a lesson on friday, it took a few tries but i got the left lead. I rode yesterday and today on the 3rd try each one(got to get her to know what shes doin) but she got the left lead! Yesterday she only went half way around the ring then quit.... today she went a time and a half!!! Just so excited i had to share!

Mar. 25, 2012, 05:10 PM
I just wanted to say i had a lesson on friday, it took a few tries but i got the left lead. I rode yesterday and today on the 3rd try each one(got to get her to know what shes doin) but she got the left lead! Yesterday she only went half way around the ring then quit.... today she went a time and a half!!! Just so excited i had to share!

Just want to say make sure *you* are making the decision on when to bring her back down to a trot. If you 'let' her quit that'll become an issue too. Don't let her break until you ask. Otherwise, sounds like progress!

Mar. 25, 2012, 06:52 PM
When your horse is turned out what does she do? How does she track at the walk? How does she carry her tail? When you walk & trot does she carry her head straight? When she's standing square without tack look at her muscle definition fromt he front and rear to see how balanced she it...I'm trying to 'think out loud'! :)
I have a gelding who had trouble w/his left lead and he was actually out in his right hip...the right hind leg is the push off for the left lead.
Pls feel free to call or message anytime and Good Luck!

Mar. 25, 2012, 07:00 PM
Shes just slow in general... i let go into the trot. I know it eould become an issue thats why i pushed her more today :).
Shes totally when shes out in pasture. She canters on the correct lead most of the time, and holds her tail like every other horse. Its not a thing of her physically not being able to do it... just more comfortable on the right.

Mar. 25, 2012, 07:17 PM
My very first horse, long ago, was the same, would only pick up the right lead. I solved the problem by cantering her along a hillside, with her left side on the downward side of the slope. She had to use the left lead to keep from falling down! I didn't have a trainer at the time, and this seemed to make sense to me :lol:. It worked great, and after a few tries it translated to flat land. (I assume you're already asking in the corners of the arena until she gets the idea.)

Mar. 25, 2012, 07:43 PM
Hahaha thats awesome...but does make sense