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Balking From Left Leg Only

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  • Balking From Left Leg Only

    My coach gave me homework last week, I am stumped, can anyone enlighten me?

    I have a young dutch mare whom we are beginning to teach turn on the forehand in hopes this will teach her the concept of moving her hindquarters away from my leg when I give the aid.

    We have had no problems turning on the forehand away from my right leg but left leg is another story.

    My aids and position are the same but she just stands still and balks. No response at all, other than the annoyed mare look I know she is giving me.

    I have attempted to teach her on the ground and used voice aid "O-VER".... again right side works, left doesn't.
    I have used a whip to tap her bum and give her the idea....nothing...

    I am Stumped....

  • #2
    Before I opened this thread, I said to myself, "I bet this is about a mare."

    What does your vet say? It sounds like discomfort to me.
    2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

    A helmet saved my life.


    • #3
      Keep in mind horses lack the connection between the two hemispheres of their brain that humans have, so a horse can be quite advanced on one side and non existent on the other. I teach give to pressure from the ground because that is how I was trained.
      Some mares find the lash of a whip offensive, so you might try a tap or bop with the handle, or get a whip with a flat bat like end.
      I'd start with her 45* toward a wall and ask her to move her hindquarters to parallel on the wall,and then march forward. I'd personally do this with the horse in side reins
      Last edited by Petstorejunkie; Sep. 23, 2011, 02:55 PM. Reason: comprehension and spelling
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by TheHorseProblem View Post
        Before I opened this thread, I said to myself, "I bet this is about a mare."

        What does your vet say? It sounds like discomfort to me.
        Love this!!!

        Thank you for the tip I had no idea about that... I thought she would think "well she asked for this on this side... so..."

        No problems... vet said she was stubborn lol


        • #5
          FP who is a gelding, feels equally strongly about the difference between right & left.

          Left is easy
          Right is what was that again, you want me to do whaaaat??? here let me show you how I can do that with a left bias


          • #6
            it is totally normal for a horse to be stiffer on one side than the other.

            turn on the forehand is a preparatory exercise to the horse learning lateral aids.

            to get your mare to move off your leg, it is best to teach her from the ground first. so you can be standing next to her ask her to take a step forward and at teh same time press her side and ask her to move over - be sure to press her side right as her crossing leg is coming off the ground - otherwise she cant respond. you can also bend her nose around so she has to move her bum.

            normally it takes just a few tries to get them moving as you wish.

            now, you can mount up and try it again..... be halted, and turn her nose to the left (away from the direction she will move her bum) and as you ask her to bend her neck, apply your leg in a pulse. if she doesn't move, no worries. ask her to take a step or two forward and as she is moving forward, repeat the bending of the neck and pulse of the leg. if she still will not move over, you can enlist a helper to ask her from the ground while you are on her back.

            it may take a few repetitions, but she will get it. just remember that she is green and stiff on one side so it will take time for her body to change enough for her to be ambidextrous.


            • #7
              It's normal for a horse to be stronger on one side than the other, both physically and mentally.

              As others have suggested, start on the ground first. Apply pressure to her hindquarter; do so in phases of pressure. Phases: hair, skin, muscle, bone. Touch hair and apply increasing pressure (say, 1-10, keeping in mind the aforementioned 'phases'), then hold. Wait for a response. If you're holding pressure at phase 10 of 10, tug on her lead a little to pull her nose around, which will disengage her. If she still doesn't disengage, use your other hand to twirl the rope at her bum, even touching if necessary. Make sure not to push with your fingertips, but to hold - the difference is when the horse moves away from the pressure when you're simply holding, there is a release. If you push, you'll tend to follow and won't get that instant release and therefore reward. Use your fingertips instead of your hand - the pressure will be more concentrated using your fingertips and therefore will encourage your horse to move away because it's less comfortable. The key is the phases of pressure, and to hold that pressure until she releases - if you're not persistent and give up early, you're releasing and thus rewarding the incorrect answer.

              Once your mare is responsive on the ground, teach the same exercise u/s. Start by asking your horse to bend her nose around to your knee. Keep your weight centered (important!!) and reach down your rein about halfway, pinching the rein between your thumb and pointer finger. Gently apply your other 3 fingers as you softly close your hand and bring your hand around to your thigh. If possible, rest your fist on your thigh, thumb up. If she's too resistant and actually fights your hand, work with what she can give and gently ask for more each time - if she yanks her head back, follow her gently, and re-ask immediately (don't increase pressure, you can even decrease a little, but don't release). Wait for her to release (not leaning on the rein, though that's acceptable initially if it means it's an improvement over her initial response), then release. To start, 3 times each side - you're waiting for that relaxation (feet still, she puts slack in the rein as she releases). When she's comfortable and understands just standing relaxed and waiting, bring her nose around as usual, then slide your fist from your thigh to your belly button, thumb out. Again, if she fights you, be soft and gentle - follow her head and re-ask until she tries. Lifting your hand by your belly button tips her nose up slightly, which enables/encourages the disengagement and turn on the forehand. As you slide your hand to your belly button, slide your leg back slightly, apply pressure, and hold. Meanwhile, LOOK around back at her haunches. They usually understand just with this but if she's 'stuck', you can wiggle a dressage whip at her haunches and touch (VERY LIGHTLY) if absolutely necessary (wiggle first!). Eventually you progress the maneuver to where your body language is not so extreme and you can maintain your correct position while asking for the TOF.

              ETA: it's all about being in the proper position and being persistent and patient in that position. Hold the position and wait - when the horse responds, release (reward). So long as you have the proper position for what you are asking, it will happen if you hang in there and wait.
              Last edited by naturalequus; Sep. 24, 2011, 09:54 AM.
              ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
              ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


              • #8
                Mare is just not straight. Put her on the cross ties and stand behind her. You will probably see that her barrel sticks out more on one side than the other. Her body curves so that she has a concave side and a convex side. This is a habitual posture having to do with dominance of one side as others have posted above. Then mounted, you will probably feel her barrel pressing up against your leg on the convex side.

                She will need to soften, relax and lengthen all of the muscles on the concave side of her body, and strengthen and shorten the muscles on the convex side to be able to stand and move with her two front legs lined up in the middle of her two hind legs, and her barrel even in the middle of her body. This takes time.

                I would spend some time on the longe line with her. Make sure to use side reins if you have them to keep her straighter, and use a round pen if you have one to keep her hindquarters from falling out. You can also use a double longe line to control her haunches. Make sure that when you are longeing on the circle left that she is reaching forward and underneath the center of her body with her inside hind leg. It is also helpful to spiral slowly and gently in and out on the circle to get the correct bend.

                Once you straighten her body, she will be better able to respond to your left leg and move her barrel over.
                "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


                • #9
                  I always teach a green horse to move away in hand first. But not just to turn on the forhand but to move away in general - and I use the end of a rope twirling rather than a whip. In a roundpen I will free lunge a horse this way. It helps to get the horse really paying attention to my body language. I feel it also creates a level of respect that translate to under saddle.

                  We have a gelding now who used to balk to the leg when asked to yield off the left leg. He came to us 'trained' they said. So we went back to the ground work above and it was clear he did not have work ethic - he was not paying us attention and THINKING or caring much for anything we were asking of him. So we basically re-connected with him in this work and it translated to under saddle. NO, he did not yield perfectly off the left leg immediately but he only needed a little touch of the whip and he would say OH OK. Three months later, shoulder-in work was lovely and no balking.

                  Since its on the ground as well as under saddle and you have had her vet checked - it must just be that she doesnt understand and perhaps she mentally is not looking at you to figure it out. Balking is a statement saying "la la la la la I am not listening I am not listening la la la la la" so I would start THERE - get her looking at you and thinking and then ask.