OTTB won't pick up her right lead
   

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OTTB won't pick up her right lead

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  • Getting ottb to pick up right lead
  • Counterbending to pick up canter leads?

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  • 1 Post By kcscott85

 
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    05-22-2012, 10:55 PM
  #1
Foal
OTTB won't pick up her right lead

I ride a mare for one of my friends about once a week, and she's been having this problem for years. She doesn't like to pick up her right lead, at all. I've tried every canter aid I know of, and nothing makes a difference. The one way I found that did work somewhat consistently was to bend her waaaay to the outside, move outside leg back, then ask with the inside leg at the girth. Even that was hit or miss though.
I think its a balance problem, as this mare is very on her forehand, and doesn't like to bend or use herself at all. But her owner wants to compete in a show doing flat classes in about a month, so she needs a consistent right lead. Any other suggestions for aids/exercises would be great. One's I've tried:

Classical aids: sit trot, half halt, bend inside, outside leg back, ask with inside leg.

Different way: ask to leg yield a couple steps over to the outside on a circle, and move outside leg back

"advanced" way: sit trot, feel inside/outside rhythm, and put slightly more weight on inside seatbone.

I've also tried all kinds of suppleing exercises before I ask for the depart, like shoulder in, haunches in, turn on the haunches, and head to the wall leg yields.

Any othert suggestions are wonderful :)

P.S. Saddle fits, just got it fitted professionally, horse is not lame, but she picks up correct leads in round pen, so maybe she just doesn't understand aids?
     
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    05-23-2012, 01:36 AM
  #2
Started
She most likely needs to build more muscle in order to support herself on the right lead. Some OTTBs will always have issues picking up the right lead. You also might want to try using your seat as well. Shift your weight to the outside when you ask for the canter lead. I know going to the right I will sometimes lean in and it ruins the quality of her movement until I half-halt and straighten myself out.
     
    05-23-2012, 09:36 AM
  #3
Foal
Ah, yes, one of the main OTTB issues. I've been involved in the retraining of more than I can count and this is most always something that needs a lot of work.

You said that in the round pen, she'll pick up her right lead. Do you work each side equally in the round pen and undersaddle? If you do, then start working her to the right double the time that you work her to the left. That will help strengthen her right side while still keeping her left side fit.

Do a zillion transitions when you ride. Walk to halt, halt to walk, walk to trot, halt to trot, trot to halt, etc. But make sure you are doing correct transitions. If you're doing them correctly, this will help lighten her forehand since she will have to step underneath her to do a smooth transition. Trot poles and then trotting through raised cavaletti and hill work are always good muscle building exercises as well. Working on serpentines, spiral in and outs, and figure 8s are good bending exercises.
Gremmy likes this.
     
    05-23-2012, 10:05 AM
  #4
Foal
Stop in a deep corner. Bend her deep into the corner. Try putting your outside hand on her neck using your inside hand to bend her neck. Once she gets the bend in the corner que her with outside leg moving your inside leg as far back as you can away from the horse. You want the horse to bend so he has no option but to pick up the correct lead. Hope this helps. This is what I did with my mare.
     
    05-29-2012, 08:12 AM
  #5
Foal
Might sound harsh, but scare her into it.

My boy is only 6 and whoever broke him never got him to "step" into a canter, so he is always running. I have tried everything, And every time I fail, I bring him back to a decent trot and think about what I was doing wrong, because my aids must not be clear enough.

Anyway, after a few time of speed trotting I pick up a whip. Now I'm a big fan of voice commands when training. So when I asked him for a canter, I would do the classic aids, and when I asked for it I would hit him on his outside shoulder and shout "cant-up". ("Cant-up" hasn't quite caught on, but "bang" has.) Pretty soon I could ask for it with just "Bang" and a big squeeze and he's a delight. :)
     
    05-29-2012, 03:25 PM
  #6
Showing
Excel has the same problem, and he's been off the track for two years. When doing a hunter course, he gets them almost every single time and doesn't favor one or the other. When we're schooling on the flat, however, he will give me a perfectly balanced counter canter but rarely the right-hand lead. My trainer and I are working on this by putting a small crossrail in the center of the arena and asking for the correct lead over the fence. Horses naturally like to be more balanced when negotiating a jump because it's easier.
     
    05-31-2012, 01:36 PM
  #7
Foal
Has she been looked at by a chiro?

TBs are actually trained to do flying lead changes when they are 2 years old, so leads shouldn't be such an issue. Don't take offense but the fact that she changes on her own in the round pen might indicate that it might be more an issue of one sidedness in yourself. Do you have trouble with other horses or just her? Her right side is probably her weaker side and might be yours too so it could just be a combination. Racehorse leads are done very exaggeratedly if needed, so you might just have to do it ugly until she gets it right.

I agree with possibly trying to "scare" her into it if other methods don't work. I used to gallop a racehorse filly who was terrible at changing her leads, but if I flicked my whip forward just a bit so she could see it, she would switch leads away from it. When I wanted her to switch back, I would switch hands with the whip. Never hit her with it, but it got the point across.
     
    06-01-2012, 12:48 PM
  #8
Started
First and foremost, showing in a few weeks imo is a bad idea and the horse isn't ready for it. You mention a few things that make me want to go back to the basics with this horse:

Quote:
this mare is very on her forehand, and doesn't like to bend or use herself at all
Quote:
horse is not lame, but she picks up correct leads in round pen
this tells me the horse is having an issue balancing with a rider, and that they are doing the flying change the way they were taught on the track (switching at full speed with a rider over the withers is VERY different of a maneuver than switching at a balanced working canter with a rider on/over the back).

Forget everything else, forget HOW you are asking her to canter on the right lead, and go back to trot work. Start with trotting on a long rein so you are not holding the horse up. Forward first, frame later. Get her moving forward so she eventually has to pick herself up. Ignore where her head is, ignore whether she is on the fore or not for now, and focus on her moving forward with impulsion. As she builds muscle in her topline and hind end, eventually she will begin to work off her hind rather than leaning on the fore. As this starts to happen, add changes of direction. Figure 8's, serpentines, random weaving and figures to really work on the horse suppling through the spine. A horse on the fore will not leg yield or shoulder in properly and will simply just be counter-bending to complete the maneuver, thus reinforcing the WRONG muscling which is why you aren't seeing a difference in the ability to get the right lead. The horse isn't ACTUALLY suppling.

By doing various figures and movements, the horse will start to have to balance themselves. Again the more you can do on a long rein, the better. When you try to hold the horse up and/or use the reins to steer, that opens the door for false framing, popped shoulders, dropped shoulders, crooked hips, leaning on the bit, and balancing off the rider. The horse needs to move off the leg and through their hips and back.

To test your progress, start frequently changing diagonal without changing direction every few strides. When you can change diagonal on the straight AND the bend intermittently regardless of what direction you are tracking in, AND the horse's body, head, and balance are unaffected, that is when you know the horse is balanced throughout and moving properly. If the horse pops up their head, drops a hip or shoulder, or leans when you change diagonal, that indicates there is a weakness and go back to more trot work.

When the horse is able to balance through the trot, then you can add in transitions to further engage the hind. I have a 3 stride rule - if your horse can't come to the requested gait within three strides, then the horse is not truly balanced and "on the aids". If you are using your reins to steer rather than as an accessory to reinforce the request of the leg, the 3 stride rule will bring out that fault rather quickly.

Once the horse is properly and evenly muscled, the canter will be much easier, regardless of lead. At that point, when ready, the horse should be able to canter by bending to the inside, adding the outside leg to encourage the horse to pick up the inside shoulder (and prevent the horse from diving in or bracing/leaning on the inside aids) and be able to move into the canter with a light rein contact off the hind.

In addition, all the above will make for a much better muscled horse, smoother more balanced ride, and better placings at ANY show, regardless of discipline because the quality of the movement will be dramatically improved.
     
    06-01-2012, 12:53 PM
  #9
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mstar    
Has she been looked at by a chiro?

TBs are actually trained to do flying lead changes when they are 2 years old, so leads shouldn't be such an issue. Don't take offense but the fact that she changes on her own in the round pen might indicate that it might be more an issue of one sidedness in yourself. Do you have trouble with other horses or just her? Her right side is probably her weaker side and might be yours too so it could just be a combination. Racehorse leads are done very exaggeratedly if needed, so you might just have to do it ugly until she gets it right.

I agree with possibly trying to "scare" her into it if other methods don't work. I used to gallop a racehorse filly who was terrible at changing her leads, but if I flicked my whip forward just a bit so she could see it, she would switch leads away from it. When I wanted her to switch back, I would switch hands with the whip. Never hit her with it, but it got the point across.
the whip in the case you described above was not effective because you were scaring her into switching leads, but rather you were just giving her the cue they were trained to respond to on the track. Watch when the horses change leads after the turn onto the stretch - jockeys switch the hand the whip is in to cue the lead if the horse doesn't auto-change. Because the jockeys are so far over the horse's withers and neck, their legs are rendered ineffective as aids, hence the reliance on the whip.

Scaring a horse into a canter isn't a successful training method as it does nothing to fix the underlying cause. If the horse isn't balanced as was indicated by the OP here, the balance needs to be corrected. Getting the right lead by chance, fear or startling, or severe counter-bending will yield a canter that is every bit as unbalanced as the cue given to obtain that lead, and will be no more successful in the show ring than getting the incorrect lead.
     
    06-02-2012, 05:50 PM
  #10
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ82Sky    
the whip in the case you described above was not effective because you were scaring her into switching leads, but rather you were just giving her the cue they were trained to respond to on the track. Watch when the horses change leads after the turn onto the stretch - jockeys switch the hand the whip is in to cue the lead if the horse doesn't auto-change. Because the jockeys are so far over the horse's withers and neck, their legs are rendered ineffective as aids, hence the reliance on the whip.

Scaring a horse into a canter isn't a successful training method as it does nothing to fix the underlying cause. If the horse isn't balanced as was indicated by the OP here, the balance needs to be corrected. Getting the right lead by chance, fear or startling, or severe counter-bending will yield a canter that is every bit as unbalanced as the cue given to obtain that lead, and will be no more successful in the show ring than getting the incorrect lead.
Actually she was a 2 year old that I broke to ride and was galloping her on the track, so initially she was changing leads because of being startled away from the whip, and once she finally got the concept I could rely more on changing by weight/rein aids and her automatically knowing change when going into and coming out of the turn.

Racehorses aren't trained to switch leads on whip cues, although a jockey make use it to get the horse to switch if he can't get him to do it otherwise. It wouldn't make sense, because the horses are trained to NOT flinch away from the whip, and certain horses and situations require whipping in a different hand. Racehorses are trained to response to weight shifts and rein cues to switch leads, and most of them should do it automatically.

And I do agree and retract my original statement about trying to spook her into it. If all other options have been considered, maybe, but it's probably not the best approach here.
     

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