Join Date: May 2007
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Tipping the horse's head to the outside is not preferrable, but it does actually work as a sort of band-aide fix to get the desired lead. By tipping the head to the outside, the inside shoulder is left a the balance point where the weight will go, the the horse is sort of forced to lead with that side.
Doing this is is really quite ugly when it comes down to it, and does not reflect good training of a horse (it teaches the horse to stiffen an brace against the rider when cantering). If the horse is taught to supple nicely, when you tip the head in using the rein and the hip in usinig the rein, the horse should pick up the proper lead comfortably.
I went to a clinic a few years back and asked the trainer for help because I was having a problem getting my four year old to pick up the right lead. The trainer told me to tip my horse's head to the outside. It worked, and he became much easier to pick up that lead, but he was very stiff when he cantered. I later learned more about suppling and properly picking up a lead, taught him to supple up, and he moves beautifully in both leads now. No permanant damage done. Tipping out worked. Since then, I have taught my new youngster to pick up his leads by suppling and tipping in - I find it much nicer for control, and collected movement.