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Suggestions for lead issues/confusion

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  • Suggestions for lead issues/confusion

    A friend of mine has a 3'6 horse that has been struggling with lead issues over a period of time. He has been checked out head to toe, and has no lameness issues. He's been seen by a chiropractor, acupuncturist, etc etc and the issue has not changed in the slightest.

    If given the chance, the horse will swap off his lead evenly both directions. L-R or R-L doesn't seem to matter. If you don't ride the jump perfectly straight with your body perfectly straight he'll swap. If if you DO ride the jump perfectly straight with your body perfectly straight, he might still swap. It's almost like it seems he thinks he's SUPPOSED to swap. He'll also swap off the correct lead to the incorrect lead. For example, when riding down an outside line where the next lead will be a left, he'll be on the left lead down the line, swap to the right at the oxer on the out of the line, and then land left. He does this both ways (LR RL) as well.

    This same horse will also land cross cantering after some jumps, but not consistently. He tends to do this in an in&out most often than any other regular jump. He'll jump into the in & out fine, land cross, then fix the lead the next stride so he's all even again and jump out. Every once in a while, he'll also land cross after big oxers, but mostly its in the inside of the in & out.

    The third thing that he will sometimes do, is that if the jump is looooong, is land "pogo sticked" with both front legs together instead of as if he was coming out of a canter stride.

    It seems in general this horse is very confused though none of these lead issues affect his way of going. It doesn't interrupt the jump and when he lands cross he fixes it on his own the very next stride before the rider can even do anything at all.

    She feels like she has exhausted all of her options from a pain perspective.

    Any thoughts, insight, or experience would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Not sure whether you're looking for more thoughts on the pain perspective or then things like exercise suggestions, but generally any time I start to see confusion in a horse I take a step (or steps) back. Is this something he only does when faced with jumps of significant height?

    Since pain has been addressed, my initial thoughts would then be to take him back to basics for a little while. Lateral work, and exercises over ground poles or low fences, say 2' or less. Lots of bendy exercises.. circles & figure 8's over them to get him listening and re-directing his focus on what he's being asked, rather than just being allowed to anticipate what he *thinks* should come next, lead-wise.

    Also, when you say "over a period of time", are you meaning that this is a new, recent issue, or something that's always been a problem? A few years ago we had an older, experienced horse come back from a lease who had developed a similar habit of being swappy with his leads. Was suddenly very unpredictable and the slightest change of the rider's balance, he'd swap off. We took him back to flat/lateral work to start, then the lower jumps, building up to figure 8's and serpentine exercises with a pole or jump after each turn. Then started working on all different types of approaches (& landings).. bent, straight, on an angle, on a curve, etc.. Then we moved to the "circle of death". It took a couple of months (we had several "green rider" quirks to fix), but under a more consistent rider, he straightened out.

    Has a trainer ever watched the horse go?


    • #3
      A lot of them will swap alot more when they are right at the top of their scope. Maybe they can handle the height just not a whole course of them. With spreads.

      Not knocking friend's riding but some horses just need a dead still ride and perfect spots, it's the way they are.

      What does the trainer say?

      Also, by checked out do you mean ultra sounds and x rays all around? Things like kissing spines can result in this type of sort of erratic performance.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.