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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My mom has a big bay mare that we love who doesn't take her right lead. (I've found tons of useful information on here regarding leads, that's not what this is about.) This mare is used primarily on the farm and on trail rides. I expect any horse I ride to take both leads, but my sister says, "Why? It's not like you're running barrels or doing WP."

My question: Do you think this is something I should work on, or is my sister right? I am going to fix this issue regardless of what my sister says (can we say authority issues :twisted:), but I was wondering what you guys think.

Opinions would definitely be appreciated.
 

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I have to say that I agree with you. Although you are only using her for trail and pleasure riding, I think a trail horse needs to be able to back, side-pass, move off your legs, stop on a dime, and should be able to pick up correct leads. You never know when you might need to get out of dodge quickly on a trail and that may involve cantering in a specific direction. If your horse can't pick up the lead on that side, you may not be able to exit as quickly or easily as you need to.
 

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I think that if you have interest in training this mare I say go for it. Your sister doesn't have to understand why, it's your perogative! ;)
 

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I think if you want to do it go ahead.Do you know why she wont take it? Could it be a back problem physically preventing it? Just curious.
 

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my question is why not? if you can, why not train a horse to the highest training you can? personally i dont like riding horses without any real training or sensitivity to the aids. I would if i were you :)
 

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While I kind of agree with your sister, if she doesn't have to its not a big deal, I would at least be wanting to work on it, if only for her health. Working on the right lead helps build up muscle on the right side and make her more even! Also, if for some reason she just absolutely WONT, you might want to have her checked out by someone.

Keep in mind if you're going to work on it under saddle, you'll have to work on lunging her to the right (to get her on the right lead) without you on top of her for a few weeks before hopping on.
 

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well honestly. i think it's nice to know and to teach them this. but my horse doesn't know any of this. sure it's probably helpful but i don't know alot of things. i was never given lessons. just through on a horse that wasn't broke and told to learn. so i broke the horse myself. and since that was basically my first time i don't know how to teach her all of these things. therefore she doesn't know leads nor do i find it important for HER to know as all we do is trail and pleasure ride. although i'm working on picking up barrels and jumping so i may have to teach her these things for those disciplines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
She did take the right lead today while I was lunging her. Which was a new thing. I spend a lot of time lunging to the right, especially trotting. She is FAT and lazy, so getting in shape is part of the deal. I think there is a moderate balance issue going on, and it's going to take a while to fix it.
 

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I think it's important that every rider knows what goes into HELPING a horse take the correct lead. If you can control the horses shoulders and hips and you ask for the lope at the right time a horse will take the correct lead every time. Horses don't want to be on the wrong lead. They are unbalanced and they know it so if you stay out of the way and prepare them to take the lead you want there will be no issue with leads or lead changes.
 

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Actually I think I heard somewhere that some horses prefer to counter canter. I had one. Odd, I know, but oh well.

ahem, kevinshorses, you ever tried writing with the other hand?? If the horse has always picked up the left lead, it would be easier for her because that side of the body would be far stronger, and she's used to using that side.
 

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ahem, kevinshorses, you ever tried writing with the other hand?? If the horse has always picked up the left lead, it would be easier for her because that side of the body would be far stronger, and she's used to using that side.

If this horse is constantly on her left lead, she's going to be very strong on one side and weakling on the other. The horse needs to use all 4 feet to bear weight, not just write a sonnet with them. It may or may not have long term soundness implications for this horse, but I don't see how it could be counter-productive to have a more balanced horse over a one-sided horse from a health standpoint.
 

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The only way she would be any stronger on one side than the other is if she loped ALOT. It doesn't sound to me like that is the case.
 

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Well I think that every horse should know the correct lead. You can do more harm than good by not teaching them, so I think you should definately teach her the correct lead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@kevinshorses, the reason I think it's a strength issue is because it is very hard to get her to take the right lead while lungeing. The day before yesterday was the first time that happened.
 

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Take a look at her overall postural habits. While she's standing, notice how she carries herself. While you're lunging her @ trot, how does she hold herself? Is there any part of her body that is out of alignment? Do her shoulders bulge in, does her ribcage bulge in or out? How does she carry her neck? Right before she picks up canter does she change position anywhere in her body?
Often times when horses have lost their body awareness parts of them get out of joint so to speak. They develop patterns of movement that cause many different issues. It could be from a compensation of sorts due to a tight muscle, soreness, or the lack of education on how to carry themselves correctly and in a way that causes them to perform with ease.
A lot of times it has to do with weakness/strength but many times it is a simple pattern in their posture that affects their movements.
Let me know what you discover and observe, I have many body work type things you can do.
 

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Does she change leads in the pasture? She may think that you want her to be on the wrong lead because every time she has been worked or ridden she was allowed to stay on the wrong lead. I still think the issue is getting control of her body and moving it how it needs to be to take the proper lead. I wouldn't lope either direction until you can move the shoulder, hips and ribs at the walk and trot. Once you get her going on the correct lead it will get easier as time goes on because she will realize that is what you want or if there is a soundness issue that is making her want to be on the wrong lead then it will be pretty apperant when she starts to take the lead consistently.

I rarely ride in an arena but I can depend on my horses to take the correct lead because I set them up to take it every time and I have since the first time they ever loped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
There is a BIG issue with education, but I watch her while she's in the pasture and she never takes the right lead. Whenever she lopes, it's always left lead. She is much softer going to the left, too.

So today, all we did was walk and trot. Kevinshorses, I love your advice, and that's what I did today.

Here's some background on Tequla. She was started by a farmer who used her to check fence and move cattle. My mom likes her because she is smooth. I like her because I can put my relatively inexperienced son on her and not worry. I hadn't ridden her much until last week, so I wasn't sure what all her issues were. But I can now tell you that moving her shoulder/rib/hip independently is something she's never been asked to do. She'll move her shoulder fairly easily, but the hip is a killer. We did a lot of work on that today, just so she could figure out what I wanted when I cued her. By the end of our ride, she had it pretty figured out.

Koomy, I don't notice any bulging/dipping of shoulders or ribs. She tracks up very well. The only thing I don't like is that when her head goes up, she carries her nose out front. It's going to take a while before she learns roundness.

Thank you both, and kevinshorses, I will be doing a lot more of what you suggested.
 

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She'll move her shoulder fairly easily, but the hip is a killer. We did a lot of work on that today, just so she could figure out what I wanted when I cued her. By the end of our ride, she had it pretty figured out.
That's unusual - most horses will move the hip a lot easier than they will move the shoulder.

*

The first things I teach every single horse I own are to move the head/neck, shoulder, ribcage, and hind end individually and on command. If you can do this, then there is not much out there you won't be able to do. To me, it is an essential part of ANY horses education.

All you who have trail horses - How do you go about opening a gate if you can't move your horses body laterally? I use my legs as much, if not more, out on the trail than I do in an arena.

I would never own a horse who didn't take both leads on command - That would be fixed within the first week of riding.

I think you are absolutely in the right here. Many people seem to think being solely a 'trail horse' means they don't need a certain level of education. I think that is hogwash. Trail horses need more education than a lot of other horses - Just a different type of training. They need to be far more solid and on the aids than an arena horse - When navigating through rabbit holes or evading a wild animal obedience and education is FAR more important and tested much harder than an arena horse ever is. A trail horse needs better balance, they need better body awareness. Allowing a trail horse to be one sided is not as small an issue as it seems - It can also throw off their balance, and their natural way of going. The horse isn't supple and isn't on the aids.

I'm with Kevin on what to do - Get each zone of the horse moving independantly. Do a lot of work at the walk and trot to supple him up - You should be able to walk and trot on a straight line with him bent any which way. You should be able to change his bend easily and without resistance. You should be able to walk/trot a circle and using your legs, move his hind to the inside, then the outside, then straight again.

I think once he is suppled up, bendy, and moving well of the aids then the problem will be as easy as pie to fix. Not taking one lead is a symptom of a larger problem - In this case lack of suppleness and balance.

You also need to know how to set a horse up for the correct lead - And there are a few ways. The main point though, is that canter begins with the inside hind. So when asking for the canter, you need to load the inside hind and free up the body so that he really has no choice but to step off onto the correct lead. It can be done a few ways, but that is the vital point. Get the inside hind in the right position and weighted, and he will have no choice but to step into the right lead.

Good on you for advancing this horses education!
 

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* Another thing - If he is forward and on the aids, then it is often easier to pick up a canter from a walk. It is easier to feel when that inside hind is loaded and to pick the correct time to ask - it also tends to take away the tendency to rush and fall forward into canter.
 
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