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So unbalanced to left

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  • So unbalanced to left

    So my OTTB has the most beautiful, balanced canter to the right. Yes you read that correctly, right. To the left I have to counterbend to get the lead and he falls in like mad. We start out on the outside rail and end up doing 20m circles, and I feel like we're going to fall over!

    We're really working on straightness at the walk and trot and responding by moving off the leg. Canter work for now, is more for exercise and we aren't specifically working on things there yet mainly because to the left it does feel like we'll slip any moment.

    I know it will come with time, but just looking for ideas to help him get his balance going to the left. He's had a chiropractor appt, and massage therapy to help with some tightness.

  • #2
    If you can work him in trot in shoulder-in right, you may get him more responsive to your left leg, and also encourage him to carry himself straighter. If you do this, be sure to support his right hind quarter so he keeps it straight on the track and does not swing out. He finds it difficult to stretch his right side, so compensates by dropping on his left shoulder, instead of curving on his left side.

    I would make all of his circles as big as possible initially, while you insist he stay off your left leg. He is probably doing the same thing at the trot, but it's far more apparent at the canter.
    Last edited by merrygoround; Feb. 27, 2013, 05:11 PM.
    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.


    • #3
      My gelding was a mess to the left and acupuncture worked like a dream for him. We found some pain in his left hip that once we treated he was much better at the trot, but mostly at the canter. Chiropractics helped too, as well as estrogen shots, but I saw the biggest change with the acupuncture. So sad that my acupuncture vet moved to Colorado!


      • #4
        In some cases, OTTBs are taught to pick up the right lead whenever they're asked to canter-- they break from the gate on the straightaway, where they should be on the right lead. Then they swap to the left for the turns, swapping back right in the stretch. My OTTB was very well schooled to take his right lead, but a bit confused when I first asked on a left circle. It could just be how your horse was trained at the track.
        “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
        ? Albert Einstein



        • #5
          Keep up with the chiro etc, but it just takes time to make muscles. It will come. Just canter on the straight sides for now.
          Unrepentant carb eater


          • Original Poster

            That's a very good point about always picking up the right lead out of the gate. He was moderately successful gelding so did 4 years on the track. On more than one occasion I've felt like he was saying, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG! And maybe indeed I am.


            • #7
              I wouldn't counter bend him into the left lead. Have you tried leg yielding him on the straight to the right, right before the turn, then in the turn weight your right iron completely and bring his nose in a touch to the inside and ask at that moment? I've just found that starting the canter with counter bending makes it a hard hard habit to break in a horse as the get stronger. Also you can try and use a pole in the turn.
              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


              • #8
                It's completely normal. Many OTTBs are used to breaking on the right lead and the lean like hell going to the left.

                I'm restarting one right now and he's a dream on the right lead but has trouble holding his balance to the left.

                Here's what's worked for me:

                - Keep circles large. 20 meters is tough for them. I mostly ride in a large field so that we're working on big, sweeping lines.
                - Work on keeping your horse straight; bending will come next
                - Massage your horse after riding if possible. You're asking him to use new muscles and they get tired and sore.
                - If you have trouble picking up the left lead, try asking over a pole or a cross rail. My current OTTB hated picking up his left lead but I could get it easily over a cross rail.
                - Be patient. It will get better!
                Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                  It's completely normal. Many OTTBs are used to breaking on the right lead and the lean like hell going to the left.

                  I'm restarting one right now and he's a dream on the right lead but has trouble holding his balance to the left.

                  Here's what's worked for me:

                  - Keep circles large. 20 meters is tough for them. I mostly ride in a large field so that we're working on big, sweeping lines.
                  - Work on keeping your horse straight; bending will come next
                  - Massage your horse after riding if possible. You're asking him to use new muscles and they get tired and sore.
                  - If you have trouble picking up the left lead, try asking over a pole or a cross rail. My current OTTB hated picking up his left lead but I could get it easily over a cross rail.
                  - Be patient. It will get better!
                  Thanks so much. I didn't mean to sound like I wanted him on a 20m circle, we just sort of spiral in! Tonight was more successful after a LOT of leg yielding. But he definitely gets this tension like he thinks I am doing it all wrong. Which from his perspective is true. I can't ride outside right now, but hopefully soon. Our indoor is prett big at 100x200, though after the track I'm sure it feels claustrophobic for him. Straight and in a tempo is really what I work on at this stage. He's doing pretty well at it.


                  • #10
                    Agree with all the above. Plus what has helped my girl and this might sound crazy but counter cantering. We pick up the lead and I allow her to canter normally until she starts to either tence and bounce or feels out of balance make a big circle threw the center and hold that lead but change directions. Maybe do half the ring and make a big loop back to the right direction and suddenly that seems much easier for her and she settles.


                    • #11
                      At W/T for now, work on spiralling in and out of a circle. You should be leg yielding for the out, pushing the barrel out, not just running out over the shoulder. This will get him reacting to your left leg, stepping under with that inside hind, and bending rather than leaning. All things that will come in veer handy for that canter where he wants to fall in. When doing the inward spiral, close him in with the outside aids, but don't just let him fall into it. You will need to still use that inside leg to keep his body curled to the circle shape.

                      I would also do lots of transitions between walk and trot, with a focus on the quality. That is, get the walk you want in terms of rhythm and straightness, and only then ask for the transition....immediately then establish the balance and rhythm you want for the trot. Same thing in reverse for the downward. At first you may lose him a little during the transition, but if you have the gait you want right before and after, soon it will be smooth between as well. Working on these should help the canter transition. I know when I do the due dilligence on my w/t transitions during a ride, my canter transitions fall into place like magic.


                      • #12
                        Be sure the cause is not due to a physical problem that prevents that horse from being able to take a balanced left lead.

                        If you're experienced lunging with side reins, doing so in moderation (in addition to the under saddle work) can be a tool for helping a horse to learn self balance. Adding a few canter poles that your can guide the horse over from time to time, can be an effective part of the lunging process.