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My Arsenal is Dry

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  • My Arsenal is Dry

    I'll admit it's not a very deep arsenal but I'm a bit flummoxed. I have a new to me mare, 12 yo trak (but really she's a eventing bred TB). She's never done just dressage. I've seen her go eventing and she was sorta run around on her forehand. That being said she's doing really well understanding the outside rein and we've had some really great success over the last 10 weeks. However our left lead canter is a disaster to put it mildly. Just getting it is a joke. She either ignores my leg or when I make it stronger races around at mach 10 trot into the canter. no step under just race. This is NOT what we get going to the right. To the right I shift my balance, scoop a bit with my outside hip, support with inside leg and voila right lead canter. it's flatter that I'd like but I can totally work with it.

    Here are the things I've tried to help get the canter in a more controlled manner:

    leg yield into and out of a circle, when back on 20m circle just ask her to step into it. - gets same result head up rush rush rush

    come on quarter line leg yield to wall and ask. - same result

    Just make sure she's good forward and stepping under herself - same result

    from the walk - actually the best result, still rushy head flinging but we got a settled canter much quicker after

    It's now gotten to where it's a thing, I get frustrated go back to something we're good at so there are days we never get the left canter. I know this is perpetuating the issue.

    So what else can I do. Can you maybe give me ideas for what I could be doing with my body to cause this? Other exercises that will make stepping into the canter the easier decision? The mare is a trier, not lazy and has a decent enough work ethic so I really feel like we're lacking a communication.

    Also note on a longe line it's not as bad the first transition is but it gets better after that.

  • #2
    I'd x-ray hocks, myself.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      I was wondering that.... Well her owner is a vet.

      Comment


      • #4
        My horse was/is problematic at the canter. Not comfortable with either lead. I have been lunging him daily, making him do several canter -trot - canter transitions per circle with about 6-8 transitions per side. Therefore if we don't canter as much as he needs in training while I'm on him, he is still getting canter practice. (His frustration and fear over cantering was leading to bolting.) It has helped him get more comfortable with cantering. I hope eventually (maybe a year from now!) he will easily transition without having to concentrate.

        He takes one lead better than the other, (as they generally do) but if not a health issue, perhaps training issue for the horse in question? Just throwing out my experience for what it's worth.

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        • #5
          How about get the good lead, change through trot with a balanced change of bend so the new lead is the obvious choice? Pick it up over crossrails?

          And of course the physical determination of whether or not there is a problem should come first.
          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
          -meupatdoes

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          • #6
            I had a mare that could take either leads but could only change one way. It was probably physical (scar tissue around a tendon) that prevented her from being able to reach under enough with that hind. Now I always train as if any problems are physical, even if we can't find them, and that prevents me from upping the pressure to try to get something that my horse can't do, and may never be able to do.

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            • #7
              Besides the physical check with a vet, I'd second netg's idea---but just using a pole on the ground. If she's an eventer, she should be more keen going towards a pole on the ground. Place the pole near the end of a diagonal line near the corner. Come across the diagonal going right and changing to left---ask for the canter depart to the left over the pole---(hopefully encouraging the left lead because you need to turn left immediately at the corner of the arena). You could also canter on the right lead toward the pole, then come back to trot a few strides before the pole, then ask for the left lead over the pole.

              It would be interesting to see if she avoids the left lead when jumping too. And observing if she always wants to land on the right lead after a jump.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by slp2 View Post
                Besides the physical check with a vet, I'd second netg's idea---but just using a pole on the ground. If she's an eventer, she should be more keen going towards a pole on the ground. Place the pole near the end of a diagonal line near the corner. Come across the diagonal going right and changing to left---ask for the canter depart to the left over the pole---(hopefully encouraging the left lead because you need to turn left immediately at the corner of the arena). You could also canter on the right lead toward the pole, then come back to trot a few strides before the pole, then ask for the left lead over the pole.

                It would be interesting to see if she avoids the left lead when jumping too. And observing if she always wants to land on the right lead after a jump.
                Those are some great suggestions. Since I broke my back a couple years ago I don't jump...But maybe I can get her owner out to see what she can do.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Lateral work in the walk and trot. She sounds like a horse that is very stiff in her body and thinks that leg pressure means "speed up". I would bet money that she is stiff in her body, kicking her haunches out to the left ... which makes picking up the left lead canter very difficult. Work on moving her haunches to the inside and outside, turns on the haunches and forehand, leg yielding, shoulder in. It doesn't have to be perfect, "competition ready" lateral work at this point, but you need to able to use your seat and legs to position her body without her speeding up.

                  Once she can willing move her body laterally when you ask, I have a feeling the problem will gradually fix itself.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    She sounds like an interesting, if somewhat frustrating project. Two questions: does she go into left lead canter if free longed or in turnout? And second does she bend equally easily left and right (and here I mean bend through the body, not just neck)?

                    Suggestions are: if she doesn't pick up left lead when free, have a good chiro look at her (if her vet owner will concur). Might be a subtle soft tissue problem associated with shoulders or withers. If she will pick up when on her own, maybe saddle is pinching her somewhere, so stand on a chair behind her and see if there's any asymmetry you can appreciate. You'd be surprised how many times saddle doesn't fit each side of a horse the same way because horses can change over time.

                    If she resists bending left (by which I mean ribcage swung to the right), that's a different issue to work on. I had a mare a but like that and until I got her really well balanced I had to pick up left lead with a slight counterbend. It allowed me to keep her shoulders and haunches where they needed to be. We gradually got to the point where she could pick up the lead straight, and then with correct bend.

                    But I'm a recovering eventer. What do I know?
                    They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Sticky Situation View Post
                      Lateral work in the walk and trot. She sounds like a horse that is very stiff in her body and thinks that leg pressure means "speed up". I would bet money that she is stiff in her body, kicking her haunches out to the left ... which makes picking up the left lead canter very difficult. Work on moving her haunches to the inside and outside, turns on the haunches and forehand, leg yielding, shoulder in. It doesn't have to be perfect, "competition ready" lateral work at this point, but you need to able to use your seat and legs to position her body without her speeding up.

                      Once she can willing move her body laterally when you ask, I have a feeling the problem will gradually fix itself.
                      I think we have a winner! She is sooo stiff all the times. And we spend 15-20 minutes at the beginning of every ride just getting her to lose the tension. I haven't thought about her haunches going left but I'll pay close attention tonight. And you're right when we work on lateral work she tenses, and rushes and I have to bring it all back. If I'm understanding you correctly this left lead is just a symptom of this overarching issue we have (which is do feel like we're tackling a little bit every ride).

                      As for saddle fit - I just had the fitter out three weeks ago so I think we're ok there. But overall weakness is definitely an issue. I started riding her about 10 weeks ago and she'd had almost a year off so this could be a strength issue too.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I will share an exercise my coach gave me for my moms horse that I ride and train who also struggled with left lead (OTTB). She now gets it no issue.

                        From centreline leg yield to the wall in trot. Once in the corner transition to walk. Right away transition to trot again, back down centreline, repeat exercise. Continue the exercise with the leg yield - walk - trot - transition. Once you feel you are successful and the horse is off your aids to your liking, instead of the walk transition you ask for canter. You may need to do the exercise 5 times you may need to do it 20 times to get the right feeling of when to ask. It sounds easy but it all actually comes up very quick but it puts your horse on your aids and in the correct balance for the canter.

                        I have given this to a few people and all were successful in bettering their canter transitions. Best of luck.
                        Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I recently started working with a horse that had issues picking up one lead. Chiro exam turned up issues at the poll and shoulder. Once they were fixed he was better, but not better enough. Had his teeth done by my favorite equine dentist (horse's owner said he was previously done just a few months prior by an expensive specialist who said he'd be fine for a year) and he's been a different horse since. It can be very frustrating figuring out what the root issue is, but it is so much easier in the long run than treating like a training problem when it isn't. Good luck!
                          www.TheSaddleTree.com
                          www.TrainingTree.net

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