Cross-firing - FRUSTERATING! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-08-2008, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Cross-firing - FRUSTERATING!

My 5 year old QH crossfires on his right lead, his front goes right and his rear goes left, which is horribly uncomfortable and he only does it int he roundpen, meaning he's unbalanced. He occasionally does it in the left lead but if I push him he will level out. Also if he is cross-firing his right lead, and i push him up, he does a flying lead change to his left(comfortable) lead. Am I asking for this some how or is he cheating because he is unbalanced and trying to be comfortable? I also thought that unbalanced horses couldn't do flying lead changes? He does not trip while cantering, walking or trotting so he knows to pick his feet up. He NEVER cross-fires while cantering in the arena, or down a straight section, even if we turn a corner in the arena he keeps his same steady lead.

What can I do to help him become more balanced? Someone said lunging a wide circle would help but I hate lunging... so I'd prefer alternatives.

I tried to work the problems out on his back but both he and I got frusterated.

Our training schedule:

Currenly he is being ridden bareback a lot, the only time I ride him saddled is when we go someplace new or I am doing mostly ring work.
We do serpentines at the walk, extended walk, jog, trot and extended trot about three times a week and I free-lunge him three laps of each gait (w/j/t/l/c) before every ride and that is all I do for lunging, and all I want to do for lunging to be honest. He is ridden at least five-six days a week for about two to three hours a day on the trails and he is ridden longer on training days (Mon, Wed, Fri), where he gets about an hour of training and then a trail ride reward where he can relax and be silly as well as ten minutes of just ground handling before and after each ride, turning on the forehand and hind end, side passing, and backing and after each ride we take a ten to fifteen minute walk down the riding trails to cool down and relax, and spend quiet time.

Is there anything I can incorporate or work on more or will just regular ol' riding and time help?

EDITED FOR- spelling.
Abby is offline  
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-08-2008, 06:41 PM
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I'm very curious to see what everyone has to say about this issue also - no matter how many balancing exercises/flexion ect I do with the buckskin gelding, he STILL crossfires (only to the left, never to the right)...
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-08-2008, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by steffanicgirl
I'm very curious to see what everyone has to say about this issue also - no matter how many balancing exercises/flexion ect I do with the buckskin gelding, he STILL crossfires (only to the left, never to the right)...
same here, my gelding only does it to the right. He has always been very balanced and only started doing this about 6 months ago. It has gotten to the point where i ride him very rarely now. Also he can no longer stand in straight angle floats.. No one seems to know what it is, a vet told me over the phone that it was probably neurological. I am going to ride him this weekend to see if he has improved. About a month ago he seemed to be a bit better, i guess im hoping he will just be magically cured by time lol.
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-09-2008, 08:38 AM
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My old guy, Justin, always used to crossfire going to the left. It was a strength (weak in right hind) and balance issue - we lunged a lot (sorry Abby). I would lunge him until he picked up the correct lead 5 times in a row, then we would quit and start with the actual riding part

I'm sure you've thought of this, but could the roundpen be too small ? (we have some pretty small roundpens around here)

Also, are you riding bareback in the roundpen? If so, you could actually be the one who is slightly off balance (I know I am if I ride in a roundpen @ the canter...feel like one of those "make you throw up" rides at the fair). I might try riding him with a saddle in the roundpen (to rule out it being a balance issue with you). If he's still unbalanced, slow him down and encourage his hind end to move just slightly to the outside while also encouraging his shoulders to come inside - that should get him balanced.

Good Luck and Keep us Updated!

Justin (qh/tb)
Boo (asb)
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-09-2008, 08:59 AM Thread Starter
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I was curious if possibly the pen is too small, I will take some measurements of the diameter and radius and figure out the circumference how many square feet its got it it.

I was riding bareback when the problem arose but I have tried riding him saddled and he still did it. Sometimes he will take the right lead and then he will drop his inside shoulder and switch his hind feet. I have absolutely NO idea how he does it.
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-09-2008, 04:01 PM
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Is he free in the round pen or are you holding onto him with a longe line? Besides the pen possibly being much too small (50 ft diameter or larger is needed) holding onto a longe line might be pulling him off balance enough to encourage cross-firing.

Before I do anything else, I would (if I were you) do more groundwork. Longing him more at a canter to build muscles in the circle. If you see he starts off cross firing, then stop and start him over. This is where patience is key. It may take a lot of "do-overs' to get him to take his lead in back. Once he does, let him go a few strides and then let him rest. Esp on the first time or two, you might even end the session.

As he builds up, keep him going longer and longer.

When it comes to riding, make sure you aren't the problem with your balance. Have an instructor come watch a time or two. Perhaps you are even cueing wrong and pushing his hips out of alignment.Or he really just needs more muscle tone and practice, riderless and with a rider.

And finally, some horses are just late bloomers or lazy when it comes to their leads. My 7yr old can canter in any lead and do flying lead changes..until he' s tired, then he drops in the back end. He didn't catch on to not cross firing under saddle to the left until he was late in his 5yr old year.It took a lot of practice and work to get him to stop. He's a very mellow guy. I find that the eager beaver horses have a lot fewer issues with their leads.
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-09-2008, 05:01 PM
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You might need an exercise to isolate the hip, and teach a cue to change the hip not just the front. Here is a copy of a response I have given others about leads and lead changes and cross firing:

Okay, teaching hips in will help your horse learn to move her hip over when you cue her. Teaching her to move her hip over when you cue her will help her pick up her leads properly. When you ask for a canter depart, you will first use hips in to set her up, and then ask her to depart. In time, she will quickly adjust and take off with the correct lead with just your leg position. When her hip is in the correct position in the first place, she will lead with the correct leg in the back, which will drive the front into the correct position naturally.

Begin asking for hips in by bending her to the curve of a circle. When her head is soft and flexed in, pick up the outside rein (but not enought to bend to the outside - you just want the touch of outside to be associated with the hip going in). After making contact with the outside rein, keep you inside leg on the girth and slide your outside leg back behind the girth. Next add pressure with the outside leg to say "get that hip over" (it will help to play porcupine game with that area first from the ground so that she will want to easily move from your leg pressure). Next, if she does not make any attempt at moving her hip over, drive with both the outside and inside leg at the same time, and keep contact with the bit (with head still slightly inside). drive until the hip moves over, even a little. Her head should stay soft and responsive, and in a desirable position...keeping contact while driving will help that.

When she does hips in at first she will want to stop. That is okay, just encourage her to walk back out. Eventually you can do it at the trot, and again she will slow, but again encourage her to trot back out. When she gets it down, use hips in to pick up the correct lead...bend head into direction of lead slightly, ask for hip to come in, ask for canter depart, hold leg position for additional support while cantering if necessary (at first....eventually she should be able to balance herself).

Here is what hips in looks like at the walk...sorry for image quality

At some points he is four tracking, which is a little extreme, three tracking would still get the idea of "move your hip over" okay too...but he is still learning. In the first part where we are walking away, I was actually cueing him to move his hips to the left, but as you can see, he went the opposite direction at first....I kept persisting, and he fixed it though. Teaching it is helpful, but you have to be very exact with your cues...there is some confusion in communication early on, but it makes a world of difference. When I was first really teaching it, he would try to give me extreme hips in when I was asking for a canter just have to cue very precisely (canter depart for him is hips in position with actual drive from the inside leg, but he would just think I wanted his hip in farther
Once you teach hips in, you can put the hip into position before asking for the lead.
AKPaintLover is offline  
post #8 of 13 Old 05-09-2008, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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I do not ride him with anyone else around because it distracts me, we do not ride on a lunge line, I ride him freely. I have asked for him to switch leads on just the hind, tap with my heel and he will change his hind, if tap with my toe, he changes his front, if I tap with my whole foot and give a slight squeeze, he switches leads completely,I found this stuff out on accident to be honest. If I do get him to level out, pops back over after a few strides. He does not seem to get the idea and that is why I'm frustrated. I hardly do any lunging, I don't like it and I think it bores the horse. I try to do as little as possible.

eta- I'm wondering if Lunging is like THE solution, everyone seems to think. Thanks for the Advice AK, I will give it a shot, hopefully he will stay in the correct lead.
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-10-2008, 12:59 AM
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1) Ride with tack and proper equipment
2) Find a trainer
my2geldings is offline  
post #10 of 13 Old 05-11-2008, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by My2Geldings
1) Ride with tack and proper equipment
2) Find a trainer
I kind of found this a little rude. I do ride with a bit and bridle. I do not ride with a saddle and that is my preference. I do not like saddles.

I have a trainer, I just thought it would be easier to self medicate the problem then pay her to tell me the same thing.
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