How important is it knowing your canter leads? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-09-2018, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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How important is it knowing your canter leads?

So had a heated debate today about leads. My friend who rides a soon-to-be 31 yo pony is allowed to ride unsupervised in the arena on her share day. He was feeling his beans (and saddle was redone and fitted for those that followed that). She said he kept wanting to canter so she let him and promptly failed to steer him and nearly crashed in the RDA line on the other side of the arena. One of the RDA ponies just about reaches my knees so my heart was in my throat as she told me. She got a stern warning from the RDA instructor who informed her that the reason she could not steer was she was on the wrong lead, on his weak side and he's not exactly athletic at his age and was instructed to canter AWAY from the RDA group and not attempt to steer him across the invisible line in the arena at anything more than a trot.

Her newest instructor has been telling her to not worry too much about diagonals and canter leads. Which I can agree with IF you're mainly hacking out or even on a horse that schools regularly (for people learning to canter) etc. This is someone who wants to jump so I've spent many hours re-teaching her about diagonals and leads but she does not consider them important, now reinforced by new instructor who is telling her it is up to the horse to know where it's legs are. Sure I get that, but if you're on an old pony and you don't prepare it and it trips in a corner then personally, that's on the rider.

SO.... what you guys think? Are diagonals and leads important for such a "basic" thing? Or should it only matter if you're competing etc..
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post #2 of 13 Old 11-09-2018, 08:29 PM
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Well,....leads are important, vitally so.
But with the kind of rider this person is and her non-ability to handle this horse at any rate of speed faster than a walk...
Honestly, I find if you leave the horse alone, not interfere and are riding in a enclosed area such as a arena with walls/fencing keeping you inside it...left alone the horse will pick a lead or swap leads so it is moving as balanced as possible to not trip.
Once you are steering, changing directions and riding a jump course being able to swap leads and know when to ask for that swap to occur since the horse doesn't know order of fences....
Ever ride a horse who is counter-cantering or you're posting the wrong diagonal while traveling in a curved path...not sure what you feel but unless the horse is so very balanced a mover {I would call it} you can feel like you are tipping in and going to fall.
Now, if you ride well enough to support and work quietly riding a counter-canter it can be really a eye-opener to weakness or strength in muscle and body control...

That is a lousy explanation but bottom line is...yes, it makes a big difference but sadly, this person doesn't want to be the kind of rider that is a partnership with the horse but just the passenger it sounds.
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-09-2018, 08:32 PM
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I agree with you, it is important for her to know her leads. If she is going to be jumping, unless she is only popping over a log on a trail and going straight, she will need to know which lead she is on so she can set the horse up for the next jump.

It was definitely her fault that the pony could not turn - I can't imagine such an old horse being able to balance and counter canter around a tight turn, so if the horse was on the wrong lead that would be why he could not make the turn.

I would suspect that such an old pony might even struggle with one lead or another, so the rider should know if he can really only canter on straight lines or around the arena in one direction.
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post #4 of 13 Old 11-09-2018, 09:01 PM
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Leads are important for people (on the ground) too. Try to walk a small-ish circle and observe which foot "leads" (steps into the direction of the turn) and which follows - the outside or the inside? Now try the same circle "leading" with the outside foot. :)
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-10-2018, 01:16 AM
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Really, there are two questions here;

1. are you responsible for where your horse goes when you are moving faster than the the others in an arena? and that is an unequivacable YES!!! not matter what, no excuses.

2. Is it important to know your leads? to me, that depends on how far you want to go in riding/equitation. At some point, you need to be able to feel the leads to know if we've set up the horse for success. But, some horses are not able to canter on both leads, so we need to know that and adapt accordingly, especially with old horses.

The long and the short is that she bears responsibility for running into the RDA (what DOES that mean?) ponies. But that is not to say that she has to be a Nazi about leads, either. Just, be aware and adapt.
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-10-2018, 07:49 AM
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My advice, harsh though it sounds, is to mind you're own and let her take her lessons from her instructor and to PAY for them. You two are not even close to on the same page for riding goals, so just walk away and let her learn from a pro.

Do I think it's important to know leads & diagonals? YES! Because once you can feel them, when you're wrong you just can't stand it. To the rest of the world who just wants to jump on and ride off however? Probably not so much. Is it any of my business how they ride? Not unless they're doing something abusive. Riding on the wrong lead, running into a lesson string, getting in trouble with the instructor? Nope, none of mine.
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post #7 of 13 Old 11-10-2018, 09:07 AM
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Leads and diagonals are only important in the show world. We spend a lot of time trying to teach the horse to lead with the inside leg, then we teach them NOT to...counter canter.

The horse WILL switch that lead on its own, if it needs to, to keep from falling down.
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-10-2018, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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The instructor is another livery owner that is offering lessons for 10 quid (without the yard owner knowing - keeping my nose out of that). She's not a certifitied or affliated instructor and I have no problem with that but she is constantly telling my friend that the things taught by me and previous instructors are wrong. Such as she needs to ride with loose contact and develop steering via her seat first. Or riding with stirrups that she can barely maintain at a walk to help lengthen her legs (compared to me getting her to do sitting trot and canter stirrupless...)

BAH. You're right I should just step back and let my friend do her thing. I've exposed her enough now so will just get on with my own work >.< Once she finally pushes herself to compete she will soon learn the time she lost not practicing the fundamental stuff...
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post #9 of 13 Old 11-10-2018, 09:45 AM
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Yes it’s important to know them even if you don't use them most of them time.

I used to ride an ex-police horse who’d only canter on one lead and cornering was extremely uncomfortable, even out on hacks. I never felt balanced and safe.

As for running into a RDA class (Riding for the Disabled @tinyliny ), I was an instructor for many years and if she’d put my riders and volunteers at risk due to ignorance and recklessness, I’d make sure that she couldn't share the arena in the future. I applaud the RDA instructor for being so restrained.
I think you’re right to stay out of it, as something’s going to wrong at some point and I wouldn’t want to be associated with the mess.
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-15-2018, 06:08 PM
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Leads should be known. Not all horses auto switch especially schoolers that are given that free reign with no direction/ control by unexperienced rider.
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