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Suddenly Can't Get Right Lead?

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  • Suddenly Can't Get Right Lead?

    My 4 year old mare has been learning to canter over the past few months. She was rock solid on her leads on the lunge and under saddle. Her right lead canter was her "easy" direction. Suddenly she can't get that lead on the lunge or under saddle without multiple attempts. I can tell she's trying hard so I'm thinking something is out somewhere. Half the time she only gets it in the front and not the back. She doesn't seem off at all and I can't get a Chiro out to our barn for at least a month. Do I stop asking for awhile and just do trot work? Do I ask repeatedly until she gets it? If so, tips? She's moving great in all other aspects. I don't punish her or get upset when she misses. I bring her back down and try again...praising like crazy when she gets it. Any advice would be helpful!! Poor little peanut is trying so hard and just. can't. get. it. I don't want to hurt/stress her. Any tips or help would be much appreciated!
    Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.

  • #2
    It sounds as if she may be out.. my OTTB mare and I have been working on leads and when she got the right consistently it was her "easy" direction too. She started having issues where you could tell she was thinking about it but only offering the left.. I had her adjusted and her hip was stuck (not a professional forgive the layman's terms) and she reverted back to offering the correct lead off of the correct bend. I would get her adjusted when the chiro comes out but in the meantime I don't think there's a problem with giving her the bend and asking. If she's having problems getting it in the back there's a disconnect somewhere.
    Hope it's an easy fix!

    Comment


    • #3
      My 1st young horse did that at age 4, too.

      My trainer told me it was not uncommon in youngsters - they go through growth spurts and need to 'get used to their new legs'. My gelding lost his right lead completely for a week or two, then found it & lost his left lead briefly, then found it and never had the problem again. Other friends with young horses have reported similar occurances.

      I say wait on her. It may just be a baby thing that will resolve itself.
      Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.

      Comment


      • #4
        This happened with my youngin too. He never really "lost" one direction, but the quality of the gait has swapped sides. It used to be that his left lead canter was quite nice while his right lead was, uhm, not so nice (flat and pacey - he IS a standardbred afterall, lol). But then it has magically switched - his right lead has taken on the left characteristics, and the left has taken on the right.

        Did some chiro and found that his hips were uneven -the right side was dropped- would make sense. He's been better since the adjustment. Will likely take a few more adjustments and a very conscious effort on the part of the rider to fix - plus maybe he should stop growing
        My blog: Change of Pace - Retraining a standardbred via dressage

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        • #5
          Had one do this not too long ago, ended up being that muscling had changed so saddle no longer fit (wasn't *terrible*, just a tad) AND needed a chiro adjustment. Don't push her on it until you've explored both options...

          Comment


          • #6
            My 12 year old OTTB mare never had a real issue with either lead - better left than right, but not bad either direction. I got her when she was 4 in TX, then lived in CA, no issues. When we moved back east and she was turned out in muddy pastures, she lost her right lead. I didn't connect the dots immediately, but knew it had to be physical since she's an adult and not resistent to most things.

            I did massage and chiro both; the massage (myofascial treatment, specifically) fixed it in 3-4 visits the first muddy season. That time, she'd slipped in the mud and strained her stifle/gaskin area. In conjunction with the massage treatments, I did hind leg stretches per instruction, and worked her on not-too-small circles. This season, she lost the lead again. It was obviously a pasture thing this time - she was really off when I tried to ride her one day - the first day the new filly at the barn joined the mares They'd run around like idiots, per BO, so I knew something had happened. It was her shoulder this time, but was blocking the right lead - making that whole left side tight. This time, just one massage treatment helped and then I did a big 20+ m circle, and didn't canter a lot, but did the canter transition, 1-2 strides, then back to trot. I gradually built up how long we cantered. My mare could get the lead on both occasions, but would fall out behind after just a few strides. I looked at the transition up as a sort of weight lifting to strengthen her right hind again. Now she's fine again, barring another mud incident!

            BTW, I talked to my chiro about the soft tissue issues in the mud, and he said that is a much better issue to have than the horrid alignment issues he treats in horses stabled 24/7. So, I just back off when she falls out, get massage if needed, and build back up.

            I'd just go back to walk and trot work and not push her until you rule out physical issues. If there is pain, she could compensate or learn bad habits in attempting to push her, so good you are sort of taking her at her word. You could play with lateral work to see if that inside hind is stiff/not wanting to cross - in-hand or under saddle, and it might tell you more about what's going on physically.

            Once cleared to try again, as far as getting the lead, I rode lots of babies, and sometimes a counterbend into the transition frees up the inside and makes it easier. Another trick, not to use too often on babies, is to reinback, then open inside leg and hand, use outside leg behind girth, and they magically pop right into the correct lead. I find this done too often is a) hard on young joints and b) stresses out hot horses, but done occasionally, not a bad technique.

            Comment


            • #7
              At that age it could be a number of things. My Arab went through periods while he was growing that he couldn't get one lead or the other. He had periods where his trot was GOD AWFUL one way or the other. He had periods where he seemed to forget how to coordinate his legs in any meaningful fashion at all and he fell on his face a couple times. Each thing lasted up to a week or two and seemed to resolve themselves just with some time. He couldn't produce a decent, comfortable canter until he was over 5yo. He could canter, but it was jackhammer-ey and horrid to ride until then. I wound up giving him a couple months off at the end of the winter of his 4yo year because the weather was terrible and no indoor just made it too hard to get anything done. I got back on in the spring, did a lot of walk/trot work for a couple months and then was shocked when a really nice canter materialized when I started to work on it again that summer.

              It could also be something like needing a chiro adjustment or needing a different saddle due to growth or changing muscling. Now (at 8) he will do things like buck, cross canter, or just refuse to pick up a lead entirely if he's out somewhere. Basically anything to scream SOMETHING'S WRONG!!!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                At 4, growth is the most likely explanation. I'd give him 2 weeks off, then start with a week of trotting before trying again. Be sure to check saddle fit too.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks for all the tips!! Her saddle was just fit but i triple checked it tonight. No problems there! We had a terrible ride tonight and she has now forgotten how to walk, trot, stop and turn. Ugh. Babies! We're off to a clinic on Monday and another saddle tune up. If she's still in a funk 2 weeks off will definitely be on the calendar! Thank you for the advice!
                  Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Keg-A-Bacchus View Post
                    Thanks for all the tips!! Her saddle was just fit but i triple checked it tonight. No problems there! We had a terrible ride tonight and she has now forgotten how to walk, trot, stop and turn. Ugh. Babies! We're off to a clinic on Monday and another saddle tune up. If she's still in a funk 2 weeks off will definitely be on the calendar! Thank you for the advice!
                    Excellent you'll have something very concrete to work on
                    If you're mostly just in the arena with her, I'd give her the weekend off (starting today) & just hand walk her out off the property (just in case she's feeling sore somewhere) or trailer out for a relaxing hack or walk.

                    If you can't see any obvious issues with the saddle fit, check for a shoulder possibly "hitting" a tree point - 1st she decides "can't canter" then "noooo, really can't trot or walk either" in anticipation of the tree point ...

                    Video while you're riding may clarify what the saddle is doing while she's in motion; lunging u/s is not quite the same as there are no rider effects. If your saddle rep/fitter is able to bring a wider version (I assume, as she's 4 & growing) this may help, or
                    a similar saddle with a slightly different tree shape.

                    Also check the wither clearance when riding at WTC (if wool flocked panels, perhaps they've gone a bit wonky).

                    Obviously you've somehow neglected to include the link to her latest photo shoot

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Every young horse I've ever known went through phases in their training where one day they'd be great at something, and the next it was as if they'd completely forgotten how to do the exact same thing. Frustrating, just keep working through it.
                      Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

                      Stop Wasting Hay and Extend Consumption Time With Round Bale Hay Nets!!

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                      • #12
                        i am not sure time off is a good idea..... i would not canter but work her in trot and walk if that is what she is capable of.

                        when they are young they grow and loose balance. but taking her out of work is not something i would do. first if she is used to a certain level of work abruptly stopping that level of work is not good.

                        second the work is therapeutic.

                        you might just want to lunge for a few days bit do keep working....

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mbm View Post
                          i am not sure time off is a good idea..... i would not canter but work her in trot and walk if that is what she is capable of.

                          when they are young they grow and loose balance. but taking her out of work is not something i would do. first if she is used to a certain level of work abruptly stopping that level of work is not good.

                          second the work is therapeutic.

                          you might just want to lunge for a few days bit do keep working....
                          Horse has gone from reluctant to canter, to reluctant to move at all in a couple of days, I'd be looking for a reason rather than just forcing her to work - as I recall, this mare has a wonderful "try", so if she's stopping, I'd wonder if she did something in turnout etc ...
                          Not sure how a couple days off is a bad thing, especially if she's hand walked, hacked, turned out etc

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Is your veterinarian a chiropractor? If not I would start with a veterinarian, if the problem persists.
                            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Mbm I DO need to update photos so you can all squeel over her adorableness! I'll get on that!

                              She has a great "try" which is why I don't generally push her if she says no to something. We just slowly work around it and eventually she gets it. Everytime she's said "NO" in the past I have been able to find an answer that makes sense. My gut says she's out/stiff in her hips and/or growing. I do her in-hand work before rides and she can step under with both legs evenly and doesn't seem to be struggling with that at all. On the lunge she looks beautiful at the walk/trot (better movement than normal actually...which is interesting now that I think about it!! LOL) She's just turning 4.5 so teething could be an answer as well. She LOVES contact and my last few rides she has been curling and not wanting to take a contact. I'm giving her the weekend off and will see my saddle fitter/massage therapist Monday before my lesson. She can check my saddle and give her a massage once-over to see if something feels out. Hopefully my trainer and saddle fitter can see from the ground if something is going on. She's having a hard time even completely untacked on the lunge getting that lead so I think it's most likely growing and/or being out somewhere.

                              I don't have access to a good vet where I live so I have to haul her 3 hours for any serious workups. The vet up here gave her a good once over and couldn't find anything but honestly that doesn't mean much. Not trying to be rude as I love these vets but they aren't good for lameness issues. If it persists for more than a month I'll definitely haul her in for a workup.

                              Hoping this is just a growing/teething thing and we can get back to good work soon! SOOOOOOO FRUSTRATING as she was doing SPECTACULAR up until last week! She suddenly was through and round, forward, her back was up, contact was beautiful, she was leg-yielding correctly and doing very well on her shoulder-in. I had even emailed my barn owner asking if she had been playing dressage-how-to videos in Willa's stall at night because she was suddenly INCREDIBLE! 3 weeks later and we can't go forward, turn or get anything other than pissed off stubborn draft pony. Ugh...babies. WHY did I want a young growing horse again!?!? LOL We'll see how our fitting/massage/clinic goes on Monday and if they see something obvious I'll get a vet workup done. My saddle fitter has an incredible eye for lameness as she's also a massage therapist. Fingers crossed it's just a baby thing and we'll be back on the up-and-up soon! Nothing worse than feeling all that incredible dressage awesomeness and then in a day reverting back to a newly started horse who can barely turn LOL
                              Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Well shoot! Just found out the weather in Wisconsin isn't going to cooperate so we can't get to the trainer/saddle fitter next week. I'm looking at 2 weeks before I can get any eyes on us. SOOOOO....throw her out for 2 weeks? Work her lightly in a jump saddle, forget dressage and stay up off her? Ride normal? What should I do!?!? Doh!!!
                                Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Keg-A-Bacchus View Post
                                  Mbm I DO need to update photos so you can all squeel over her adorableness! I'll get on that!
                                  pictures for me ???





                                  Must go now but will send you a far too lengthy pm or email later

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