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Moonshadow16 06-10-2013 11:56 AM

Help with Leads- OTTB
I was recently (in the past 2 weeks) given a 4 yo OTTB to train. My main riding goal is to train horses, and he is my first project! Don't worry though-I'm working with 3 very experienced trainers so I'm not alone (:
Anyway, I had a dressage lesson with him yesterday and he couldn't seem to pick up his left lead. He wasn't in any pain or anything, it just seemed like he genuinely didn't know how to pick up his left lead. Does anyone know any tips/exercises to help with this?

TBforever 06-10-2013 12:11 PM

that may well be is off side?

how long is he off the track? they generally dont have alot of balance esp comming right off the track

Four Seasons 06-10-2013 12:30 PM

Do you lean forward when going into canter? Most riders will lean forward (even if its a tiny bit) going into canter and lean on the left or right side (left for left canter, right for right canter). By doing this, the balance of the horse suddenly changes and makes it more desirable for the horse to the wrong lead, as nothing is leaning on that side of him.

And it is practise, practise, practise! When the horse does get the right lead, a big reward should follow.

Moonshadow16 06-10-2013 01:17 PM

TBForever- He has been off the track since November, however he was in a field until April. Going left is definitely harder for him. Do you know anything that could help him on his left side? I'm doing a lot of circles and serpentines right now.

Four Seasons- I do lean a little bit forward, and always more on the left side. I tore 2 ligaments in my right ankle, so I'm unable to really put any weight in that heal. I'm trying really hard to balance myself though!!

equiniphile 06-10-2013 01:46 PM

I'm glad to hear he was given six months off to rest, relax, and lose his racing muscle. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to retrain a horse in peak racing condition. You need to take things slow, and an extremely fit horse will be frustrated by this.

I have two OTTBs. My 2003 mare came off the track with incredibly balance. This is a mare that knows exactly where her feet are. Leads and flying changes were never something I had to work on much with her, because they came so naturally.

My other OTTB was a tall, leggy guy and came off the track with little balance and a not-so-great sense of where his feet were. Even three years after coming off the track (he's 8 now), he occasionally picks up that left lead when I ask for the right. He favors his left side.

I spent hours working on his suppleness and bend to his right. Work on two-tracking and leg yielding, teaching him to move off of pressure behind the girth and at the girth until you can control bend throughout the entire body. Remember that bend isn't a quality of the neck, but of the entire body. Do lots of spiraling in and out at all three gaits on a circle, leg yielding in and out on a circle, etc.

One exercise that really helped my gelding was working on a circle in the direction he's uncomfortable with. At the rising trot, start by working with an exaggerated bend to the inside and really wrapping him around your inside leg. Every few strides, change your bend to the outside, exaggerating his bend around your outside leg and sitting a beat so you're rising when his outside legs are together. Every few strides, alternate which bend you're asking for. When he feels supple, ask for the canter on the correct lead when he's bent to the inside.

Good luck!

Moonshadow16 06-10-2013 02:43 PM

Thank you so much! I'm going to try the circle exercise tomorrow :)
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