Picking Up Canter Lead
I own a 5 y/o Highland Pony. When I first bought him a year ago, I had a lot of issues with him [napping, rearing, you name it] including bucking, especially going into canter. Had him checked in case pain was an issue but got the all clear. Anyway, through the first few months of owning him, I mostly concentrated on solving all these problems I had with him. The canter work i concentrated on was mainly on getting a buckless transition straight off the leg. I was told by various instructors to worry about leads later and to just concentrate on the transition.
Anyway. We've reached the point where though while he still bucks, he comes straight off the leg into canter and can maintain the canter for as long as i want [though i generally keep it to short bursts in the arena]. He bucks less now and i know it's something that will come as he develops a better sense of balance as this, i think, can often cause him to buck. However, i cannot get him to pick up his left lead. He has gotten very used to picking up the wrong lead on his left rein and not being corrected due to the fact I were told not to concentrate on his leads to begin with. So he simply believes what he is doing is correct.
Not being an extremely experienced rider, i got someone else on him to see if they could get him to pick it up, on the off chance it was me causing the problem. They too had an awful lot of trouble getting him to pick up his left lead.
Another problem is that it is incredibly difficult to tell what lead he is on when aboard. He has a fairly compact body which makes it extremely difficult to see which lead he is cantering on.
What do you recommend i do? Someone suggested lunging him with draw reins, with the outside rein one hole shorter than the inside. I am not a very experienced lunger and Dougal can be a bit of an idiot on the lunge but i can get someone else to do it. Anyone got any other ideas? I've tried putting a pole raised on the inside at a corner to get him to pick up his inside fore but this still didn't seem to work. Someone has suggested leg yielding or side passing onto the track before a corner to ask for canter but he can't yet do either of these things. I really want to get this sorted as it's been left for quite a while now and i am keen to get him cantering on the correct lead.
Thanks in advance and for taking the time to read all that blurb.
First thing, when you lunge him, don't shorten your inside rein. That creates aritificial bend, so he develops muscle incorrectly. Just take the side reins off and see what happens. Does he pick up the correct lead without a rider on his back? If so, that would be your first place to start! He may have built up muscle on his right side more than his left, so if he picks up the left lead on the lunge, do it for a few weeks and concentrate on getting that lead to kind of prime him for it.
Then the only thing I can suggest is watching his stride at the trot and asking for a canter when his right leg comes forward, so his natural next step would be the left foreleg!
I think you might be right there, he has probably built up a lot more muscle on one side from cantering on his right leg all the time. Lunging isn't really an option at the moment, so i'm just not sure what to do.
No, the few times he's been on the lunge in canter he hasn't been on the correct lead on the left rein though i have seen him canter on his left lead in the field.
Right, i'll keep that in the mind the next time i ride him. He just doesn't understand what he's doing is wrong. It's been going on for too long now.
I wouldn't even worry about lunging with draw reins, in an inexperienced persons hand it can just create more problems. I would just lunge him with a lunge line and lunge whip. I agree with the trainers who said to just worry about the transition. When you lunge and ask for the canter let him run around atleast twice, as soon as he does praise him. If he picks it up with a buck then you stomp your feet and make him work harder. Are you sure it's a buck and not a more of a bunny hop thing? -- If you're an inexperienced rider the horse could be having a worse time trying to pick it up and with balance if you are using him to balance. Do you know what I mean?
Why is lunging not an option?
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