Canter Leads - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Canter Leads

My horse is an arabian cross so he is very flexible. I cannot get his left lead for the life of me. Help!
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post #2 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 02:39 PM
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More information is needed. How are you asking? What have you already tried? Does this happen on the lunge or just under saddle? Have you done anything to work on your horse's balance and strength?

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post #3 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 03:06 PM
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"Corporal" (1982-2009, RIP), was very left handed and preferred to counter canter rather than pick up the right lead. The best thing to do, IMHO, is to first focus on shoulders in and haunches in until he is REALLY obedient to cues for those. You will use a haunches in to ask for the lead bc it points the lead foot, or inside foot, forwards. Also, post the trot and STUDY your horse, so that YOU can tell what pair of feet are hitting the ground as you are riding him. Then, try to ask for the lead, while sitting the trot, and cue for the canter while the right hind foot is hitting the ground. That foot begins the canter, then LH & RF together, then the left front, the LEAD foot.
You will ask for the correct lead from the trot bc you want to make sure he has the momentum, at this preliminary stage, to canter, instead of giving you a "road trot."
There is no guarantee that he'll pick up the lead correctly the first few times since it's become a habit to always try to try to canter on the right lead. If he still picks up the wrong lead try circling tight, or drive him into a spiral. AS SOON AS he picks up the right lead, canter maybe 3 strides, than lay on the praise and try again.
ALSO, ask for the canter, haunches on, on the straight. It won't work asking on the turn. I've tried it...for YEARS. Julie Goodnight had a great program about this last year. Check out her site.
When he reliably takes cues for both leads, school for the canter from the walk. If you have any cavaletti, this sometimes helps to ask for the canter as you ride over the low setting.

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post #4 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corporal View Post
AS SOON AS he picks up the right lead, canter maybe 3 strides, than lay on the praise and try again.
I couldn't disagree more with this if I tried.

DO NOT break that horse back down to a trot once it gets the correct lead. Go go go! Make him run 4 or more laps with the correct lead THEN try again. Breaking him back down right away isn't going to teach him anything. You break him back down to the trot when he gets the WRONG lead. So why break him down when he gets the correct one?

Only allow him to lope around on the correct lead. Once you get it, lope around for a while and try again.

99% of lead problems are body control problems. Do alot of shoulder movements and re-directing.
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post #5 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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More information on my horse: His muscling is underdeveloped for the left lead, but I know he can do it. (At the shows he will pick up the right one because he KNOWS he needs to). I ask with my outside leg, as I always have been taught. (i have tried many different ways though) he does get his lead on the lunge, but just not when I am riding
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post #6 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by .Delete. View Post
I couldn't disagree more with this if I tried.

DO NOT break that horse back down to a trot once it gets the correct lead. Go go go! Make him run 4 or more laps with the correct lead THEN try again. Breaking him back down right away isn't going to teach him anything. You break him back down to the trot when he gets the WRONG lead. So why break him down when he gets the correct one?

Only allow him to lope around on the correct lead. Once you get it, lope around for a while and try again.

99% of lead problems are body control problems. Do alot of shoulder movements and re-directing.

I largely disagree with this, as I used to do it. The key to training is release, which is a reward. Plus, if you just canter and canter, muscling isn't built. It is built through transitions.

Especially with my horse, if I push and push him, his attitude towards me worsens. (Meaning he won't allow me to catch him and will have heck of an attitude for several weeks)
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post #7 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 04:33 PM
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Okay here is what we did for Sky.. who hadn't cantered previously.

We started on the ground until he got his leads down pat and was balanced, then I did this on his back too.

Once we caught him the word "canter" and he did it freely, we focused on leads. If I wanted to do a right lead canter, I'd watch his feet and when his back inside hind was coming up, ready to strike down, I'd ask for the canter. He'd pick up the correct lead everytime and if he didn't, I'd make him trot right away, get him back to a nice working trot and then ask again.

Never let them go in the wrong lead forever if that isn't what you want. With training, you can't focus on too many variables. If he canters when you ask him, you have no need to offer further praise if he picks up the wrong lead when you asked him for the opposite lead. You'd only offer praise when he gets the correct lead.. or you'll just confuse the horse.

This is how I did it for Sky, and my other minor training projects.

You also do the same under saddle. You cannot focus on too many variables at first. So if you are working on cantering under saddle for the first time, the leads aren't nearly as vital to get because you want to encourage the horse to canter. However if they can canter fine, again you focus on the leads. Do not let them canter on the incorrect lead. Bring them back to a trot (nicely not jerking them around) and ask again.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE FEET. If you ask for a canter when the inside hind is already on the ground.. it's really hard for them to pick it up without jumping into it. Then you build bad habits...

Remember, set your horse up properly. Think about where their feet are. Know the way their feet move in all four gaits. This will help you to understand what each foot is doing at any time. Feel it.

I sound crazy don't I? But seriously.

~~

Just to clear things up, I don't agree with cantering the pants off of a horse when they get something right. The trick is to correct a wrong lead canter ASAP and then allow the horse to canter on the correct lead for at least 5-8 strides.. and slowly build up to longer and longer.

Try on the ground first, OP. Since he's lacking muscle on that side, it'll be very difficult for him to do so under saddle so trying on the ground before each ride will help him out tons!

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #8 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by KylieHuitema View Post
I largely disagree with this, as I used to do it. The key to training is release, which is a reward. Plus, if you just canter and canter, muscling isn't built. It is built through transitions.

Especially with my horse, if I push and push him, his attitude towards me worsens. (Meaning he won't allow me to catch him and will have heck of an attitude for several weeks)
Letting him lope around IS his release. If you keep breaking him down and trying again, that IS pushing him. Muscling IS built by loping around, that is the silliest thing I have heard in a while.

From what I am reading sounds like a body control problem. You mentioned he is very flexible. Sounds like he is a squirmy horse, doesn't follow his nose with his body, and has issues going straight. Work on straight lines and keeping him between your reins. Goodluck.
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post #9 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 05:09 PM
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Heck, I would get annoyed if someone kept breaking me back down after I got it right. Sounds like this horse is confused from all the mixed signals.
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post #10 of 29 Old 01-14-2013, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel View Post
Okay here is what we did for Sky.. who hadn't cantered previously.

We started on the ground until he got his leads down pat and was balanced, then I did this on his back too.

Once we caught him the word "canter" and he did it freely, we focused on leads. If I wanted to do a right lead canter, I'd watch his feet and when his back inside hind was coming up, ready to strike down, I'd ask for the canter. He'd pick up the correct lead everytime and if he didn't, I'd make him trot right away, get him back to a nice working trot and then ask again.

Never let them go in the wrong lead forever if that isn't what you want. With training, you can't focus on too many variables. If he canters when you ask him, you have no need to offer further praise if he picks up the wrong lead when you asked him for the opposite lead. You'd only offer praise when he gets the correct lead.. or you'll just confuse the horse.

This is how I did it for Sky, and my other minor training projects.

You also do the same under saddle. You cannot focus on too many variables at first. So if you are working on cantering under saddle for the first time, the leads aren't nearly as vital to get because you want to encourage the horse to canter. However if they can canter fine, again you focus on the leads. Do not let them canter on the incorrect lead. Bring them back to a trot (nicely not jerking them around) and ask again.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE FEET. If you ask for a canter when the inside hind is already on the ground.. it's really hard for them to pick it up without jumping into it. Then you build bad habits...

Remember, set your horse up properly. Think about where their feet are. Know the way their feet move in all four gaits. This will help you to understand what each foot is doing at any time. Feel it.

I sound crazy don't I? But seriously.

~~

Just to clear things up, I don't agree with cantering the pants off of a horse when they get something right. The trick is to correct a wrong lead canter ASAP and then allow the horse to canter on the correct lead for at least 5-8 strides.. and slowly build up to longer and longer.

Try on the ground first, OP. Since he's lacking muscle on that side, it'll be very difficult for him to do so under saddle so trying on the ground before each ride will help him out tons!
I would focus more on feeling where his feet are rather than watching. Looking down at your horse is a nasty habit that can cause lots of problems, especially when you are teaching leads. Alot of the time, it causes you to lean to one side or another which throws the horse off and makes it more difficult to pick up the lead in the first place.
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