help! trouble telling left and right leads - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-30-2010, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy help! trouble telling left and right leads

Hi Everyone!
I have a mental block when it comes to being able to tell if and when my horse is on the correct canter lead. I know its suppossed to be horsemanship 101, but for some reason this just eludes me.
I know i am suppossed to see it in shoulder, but when i look down to check it throws him off. I know i should be able to tell when we go around a curve or the end of the arena, that it should feel pretty uncomfortable as we go into the bend...but he keeps himself well balanced even on the wrong lead so its hard to tell. Typically he tries to pick up the right lead no matter what, and has trouble with the left.
Help! i have a show coming up and will be mortified if we do the flat classes on the wrong lead the whole time. Do you have a good way I can tell which lead i'm on?
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-30-2010, 10:53 AM
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in the canter, the inside leg leads. so you will see that shoulder move out more than the other. when you look down dont tilt your head down, just use your eyes for a quick second. if it is really throwing him off when you look down, keep your out side leg on at the same time.
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-30-2010, 11:15 AM
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Also when you are in the right lead think about what your hips are doing. If your in the right lead your right hip will be leading, and your left hip will be slightly lower. And vice versa with the left lead. Hopefully I explained that right.
I am great at telling what lead I'm in until I ask for a flying lead change. My problem is that I'll ask for it and it takes about 5 strides for me to figure out that she actually changed 5 strides back haha. Which isn't a big deal I'll figure it out the more I do it.
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-30-2010, 07:32 PM
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If he always canters on the right lead, and struggles with the left, then I'd say it would be fairly conclusive as to which lead he is on if you're travelling to the right and he is cantering solidly, he's going to be favouring his right lead. On the left I'd assume he's be quite unbalanced if he struggles with it? If you're going to the right and he's on the left lead, a horse that struggles to pick up canter to the left is not going to have a balanced counter canter, making it quite conclusive as to which lead he is on???

Try cantering a 3 loop serpentine. Pick it up to the right, his stronger side, and canter a full circle, then start your serpentine. Notice that your inside hip will be working harder than your outside (note what KateS said). As you change rein to go to the left, your horse will be in counter canter and you will notice that you feel slightly awkward as your outside hip should still be more forward when instinctively you're inside hip wants to lead.

If you really can't tell, try putting your horse onto a 15m circle. If he falls apart he's probably on the wrong lead!
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post #5 of 8 Old 05-01-2010, 12:23 PM
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Just use your eyes to look, not your whole head. And keep that hip tilted inward with your outside leg while you do it if it really is bothering you. If he has trouble with the left lead, you should be able to tell because he'll be having trouble with it and it will feel awkward.

I honeslty don't know how to explain it. It's really just a feel thing, learning to tell. There's just an ever so slight change. Hell, I still hven't figured Annie out. She's so smooth on both leads that she feels the exact same. Hell, I can do two-time changes on her without even knowing it I just move my legs and pray she's doing it right. I have to have someone else tell me. But then on the other hand, Jester is so distinct I can tell no matter what he does.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #6 of 8 Old 05-07-2010, 12:26 PM
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Been there! It takes some people a while to learn. The trick about just glancing out of the corner of your eye is a good one, because the harder you look the more you can confuse yourself. The best way for me was to have a ground person (my instructor usually). I would pick up the canter and then say whether I thought it was the correct lead. The ground person would tell me whether I was right or wrong. Had to do this for a couple of months before it started to sink in. Eventually I got so I could feel the bend. Even now I don't really use the shoulder to tell.

If you don't have a ground person, another thing you can do is put your horse on a small circle right after you pick up the canter. If he's on the wrong lead, you'll feel him bulging out to the outside of the circle. If he's on the correct lead, he'll more likely be falling into the circle. Try to feel what his haunches are doing, because they're what's really controlling the movement. Good luck, it takes persistence but you can get it.
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post #7 of 8 Old 05-07-2010, 12:34 PM
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I agree with the advice given already.

Just wanted to add that when you do get your leads solidly, you will be able to tell which lead he is on by the feel. most horses have a smoother canter one way over the other so eventually you won't have to look down.

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post #8 of 8 Old 05-07-2010, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everybody! I feel like such a noob for not always being able to tell. we'll just keep was a little embarassing last weekend at a show when he did the entire left canter circle on the right lead. boo.
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