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Zeke 06-29-2010 05:55 PM

Can't Pick up the Left Lead, Help!!
I'm riding a Rocky Mountain mare for a friend and the barn owner and I quickly noticed she cannot pick up the left lead. The right lead is completely fine and she's got a great lope! For the sake of the horse and the owner's daughter however, teaching this mare to pick up the correct leads would be great.

She's mostly used to trail and when she is ridden at a canter, mom tends to just go with whatever lead the horse picks up. Seems to the BO like since she only canters on the right lead she may lack the correct muscle to pick up the left lead.

I did some lateral side passes and also trying to push her hip over and sure enough she cannot cross her back legs over when pushing her towards the right. Without being able to push the hip to the inside (aka right) it's hard to really expect a correct left lead.

Anyone have any exercises that could help?

Silvera 06-29-2010 06:18 PM

If you lunge her will she pick up the left lead? If so I would start by building up the muscles through lunging. Get her used to that, you can also work on stretching both sides, her bad side more then the other to help loosten up her muscles.

ridergirl23 06-29-2010 06:24 PM

could it be the saddle? Maybe it's causing her pain or extra pressure on one side?
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smrobs 06-29-2010 07:13 PM

How old is this mare and how long has she been ridden on the trails? Many horses that are used just on the trails and not ever expected to work in both leads will always be more solid in one and completely clumsy in the other. Does she bend okay to the left under saddle? If she bends okay and shows no signs of pain, then I bet it is a training (or lack thereof) issue. When I am trying to get a horse to pick up the correct lead, I will work them in circles. I start the circle and if they go on the wrong lead, I just keep them going and tighten down the circle small enough that it is uncomfortable for them to go on the wrong lead. Unfortunately, this is usually very uncomfortable for you too and you will end up with a cramp in your side before you are done. 99.9% of the time, they will change on their own after just a few small circles like that. When they get the correct lead, especially if they are really unaccustomed to working on that side, I will lope them in 4 or 5 circles and then let them drop back down to a trot. It takes a lot of work and repetition for them to consistently pick up the correct lead and be comfortable in it but the more you do it, the better they get.

Zeke 06-29-2010 07:55 PM

The mare is about 18 and she has been primarly a trail horse for quite sometime which leads me to believe this is just a training issue, not pain. I say no pain because I can get her to bend left, and with some encouragement I can get her to push her hip over in hopes that may help with getting the lead. I unfortunately haven't tried the lunge line/round pen yet because I literally just got the job of working with her and noticed within the ride her weakness.

Circles sounds like it may work but I'm already having small problems with her leaning too far in and I really don't want to make a small problem worse. I've been trying larger circles at a trot while pushing her hip to the inside and trying to ask for a lope as I approach the fence at a diagonal. But getting her to really push her hip over is tough. Will lots of side passing and lateral stretches help build muscle?

franknbeans 06-29-2010 08:02 PM

The whole reason my new guy is in training......trail ridden only since initially broken. (4 yrs) Great out on trails, but had no bend, unbalanced, and is stronger to the right also (FYI, he is TWH/QH). He has been at the trainers 90 days, and is almost done. It has been a lot of work, but he is now fabulous at loping circles. So, get your bend first-then try.

Zeke 06-29-2010 08:09 PM

Thanks! I can for sure work for that. She's very very broke. Doesn't try anything silly, very responsive to leg and neck rein and does what she's asked (tons of go for an older mare too!). Her only fault is the lack of being worked on the left lead.

SorrelHorse 06-30-2010 11:39 PM

I hear this problem a lot......For some reason it always seems to be ont he left lead, and when i ehar it I tihnk "Oh no, here we go again...."

I know you seem to have already ruled out the pain thing, but I'm jsut gonna open another window for you here. I already posted thi son another thread.

A while back we bought a ten year old reining horse gelding in hopes of using him as a lesson horse for my trainer's kid. At the time she had just put down the pony her daughter was riding and since I needed a new reiner and her kids needed a lesson horse, we split the costs and kept him at her training barn.

Well, after the first ride I noticed he would not pick up the left lead, he would not slide on his left lead, he would not do a flying change, and god forbid he turned around to his left.

Well, in short, even though he would lope to the left on his lunge line or on his own, when you were in the saddle.....nothing. Well, thank god I am on a first name basis with my vet. We were at a show together and I happened to mention it. He insisted I bring him in for an x ray. I did so, nd it turned out he had a bone spur in his left hip that was invisible to a normal vet check (no x ray) and there was no heat in the area or anything to tell me he was being anything but stubborn.

Just food for thought....I would not have thought about it, because he never showed signs of pain. Just irritability, ad I thought it was because the lady who had him before us (He reined until he was five, then sold for another five years to an ignorant gal who didn't know anything) and I thought she had just ruined him....I mean, you should've seen some of the horses she had. All had freaky habits like that. She was a total nutcase.

Zeke 06-30-2010 11:43 PM

Thanks for the brain food...I'll mention it to the owner.
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Paint Mom 07-01-2010 12:31 AM

If it's not pain I do this if I can't get it any other way:

Lope/Canter on the wrong lead (counter cantering), From big to small; all the way around the arena, to the barrel pattern. Once you get that horse on the barrels it's go no choice, or it won't take long for it to learn it's nice to be on the correct lead.

Quit every time you get it for the first few times. Let the horse whoa, loosen the cinch, and call it a day. After a few times try asking two or three times...Keep building it up.

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