barrel horse, wont pick up right lead or "round up"

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barrel horse, wont pick up right lead or "round up"

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  • How to get a barrel horse to pick up leads
  • Horse picking up wrong lead to barrel

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    03-05-2012, 10:35 PM
barrel horse, wont pick up right lead or "round up"

I've never thought about using a forum but I figured I would give it a try!

I have a 14 year old QH owned him for about 4 months. We do the high school rodeos and he's fabulous. However I have had a ton of trouble and aggravation with several issues. I bought his as a project and I don't always have money to see my trainer as much as I would like so I figure I would see what everyone has to say!

For one, it is soo hard to pick up the right lead, or even the lope in general. When I bought him his owners said to keep kicking till he picked up a canter. He is better after 7 months but 95% of the time he will always pick up his left... and he doesn't have any "cues" ... Any ideas?

Next, He is very difficult to "round up" or get him into a frame... I am in a constant battle trying to get his head down but he is tense and it is nearly impossible to get him to lower his head and raise his back and be relaxed at the lope.. I put a tie down on him when we run barrels and all but I want to improve his movement and not rely on the tie down all the time (he still fights the tie down to lift his head)

From what I can tell he was never properly trained to use his back and his haunches and he only knows what basics I've taught him.. (Ive had to teach him back up, turn on the haunches, side pass, and I want him to do flying changes but until we can actually get our correct leads on cue that's impossible!)

He is a hit or miss when we are trying to accomplish something and he is incredibly stubborn! Any ideas/tips are greatly appreciated!!

P.s. I also ride english, I have a 11 year old TB that I pretty much trained myself and he is absolutly wonderful and an amazing ride. The difference between him and my QH I think is their willingness to work!
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    03-05-2012, 10:40 PM
Are you sure that your saddle is fitting him properly? It sounds like he is in pain, or at the least, very stiff. Have you had a vet check him over, or a chiropractor?
    03-05-2012, 10:53 PM
Green Broke
I have to agree with CLaPorte, he may be stiff and a little reluctant to do the things asked of him because he's sore in that area.. Or it may be that he just doesn't know what you want him to do. If he was never properly trained to do those things and he's just been let pick up whatever lead for the majority of his riding career, he may just be reluctant to pick up those leads because they may feel "wrong" to him and he's gotten comfortable in doing what he wants...I don't think it's a issue if not wanting to work. Maybe you just have to go back to basics and keep working on the correct leads and such...
    03-06-2012, 12:11 AM
I'd really like to see a video of him running barrels and also just general riding trying to pick up leads. It would be easier to say if we could see something.

If he's a fabulous high school rodeo horse, he's pretty **** good. And he must be switching leads in pattern if he's competitive at HS rodeos. That's why it's confusing to me.
kevinshorses and SkyeDawn like this.
    03-06-2012, 08:06 AM
Does he do any of this on the ground or in a round pen? Does he run with his head up in the pasture? Does he pick up the right lead in the pasture? Have you done ground work just working on lowering his head? Has he had his teeth done? How are his feet? There are a million different things it could be besides just not willing to work. Especially if you have taught him to side pass and all of the other things, if he isn't picking up the basics, it sounds like pain.
    03-06-2012, 09:06 AM
Hey everyone, I am taking him to the vet today but given his age he is rather stiff at times so he is on msm for it and he has done a ton better. He will switch leads in a pattern but we have a lot of trouble getting him to start out on the right lead.. He also needs his teeth done which are getting done next Friday. His feet are good. He does naturally hold his head high, he has built up a lot of muscle on the lower half of his neck but not much on the top line.
As far as reluctant to work.. he loves running patterns working with cattle, etc but When I go back and try and work on those basics sometimes we get it then other days he won't at all and we've been consistently working on this for 2 months.
I sadly do not have access to a round pen so that makes it alittle tough to do ground work...
What are any suggestions? I think someone mention groundwork.. do you have any exercises in mind? And in the saddle (Which does fit him perfectly we had a saddle fitter check him) what are some exercises I could do?
    03-06-2012, 11:08 AM
It would be interesting to see a video, because he honestly doesn't sound all that well trained. More like everything got skipped and he was patterned to soon.
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rob likes this.
    03-06-2012, 11:20 AM
Pain issues aside....

I thought of two things.

1) He is simply stronger on his left side and wants that lead. Rebel used to be the sneakiest horse ever with leads. I would have him framed up for the right lead, trainer said it was perfect, I tried to get him up into it an from the FRAMED position he would fling himself into the left lead. Little rat. What I did right then was break him down immediately and kick his hip around to punish it, then immediately lope off again. When he got it, we would do a half circle and I would let him stop. He learned very fast and we would gradually increase the distance. His muscle came back and now he will pick up either lead no problems.

2) You are unbalancing him and causing him to want his left lead. This is something my lesson kids do all too often. They lean the wrong way instead of sitting square and framing, and the horse will practically fall into his other lead.

I agree with the others that he needs to go back to basics as well. Look up some of Larry Trocha's stuff on youtube, I really like those and find them full of information on keeping a horse soft.

As far as the headset, don't dwell on that. A horse can have a low headset and still have all their weight dumping on their forehand. First off, I would teach him vertical flexion from lateral flexion first. Make sure you can loosen him up by stretching his head to both stirrups, then gently use your hands to draw his head down. Be sure you know when to release too. And use your legs and squeeze as well. Hold steady with your hands, squeeze with your calves, and gently encourage the head to come down. This will also get him to be thinking about driving from behind. He may not have all those muscles yet though, so start at the halt and then the walk, to the trot, to the canter.

Just do a lot of stretching and bending and pushing all the body parts until he gets unstuck.
    03-06-2012, 12:31 PM
Hard to say what is going on without a video like others have said in previous posts. Just a general comment though it sounds like you need to go back to the basics and build your foundation up a bit better. It will require a bunch of work and mostly consistency on your part to make sure that your working on it every time that you ride. Consisency is probably the number one thing I struggle with when I am riding. It can be frustrating at times but its really rewarding when all is said and done.
I rode a horse for my father in law that he had entered in a sale and I had the same problem with trying to get him to pick up his right lead. I would bend him to the left and have my left leg on him to push him out into his right lead. Just as he was about to lope off he would just flip his hips and pick up his left lead. Finally figured out that I wasn't keeping my left leg on him long enough and I was letting him get out of shape to pick up the wrong lead. Pilot error for sure and no fault on the horse.

Good Luck.
    03-07-2012, 11:05 AM
Thanks everyone for all the comments! I think I have some ideas now... I don't have a video of anything accept us running barrels so I don't know if that would help since he does what he needs to do there.. but in order to make him BETTER he's missing the basics.. like Barrelracer23 said, I think someone just kinda taught him to walk trot lope and threw him in a pattern and now at his older age it's even harder to go back to the basics especially with our high school rodeo competition breathing down our knecks..
What are some basic excercises I can do every day to gradually make him stronger? I've read cavalletti work, hill work, I've even looked into some stuff like the head setters and german martingales but I don't neccesarily want to buy one unless I know they will be good for us.. Opinions?

barrel horse, right lead trouble, round up

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