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About 6 months ago I got a new horse, and recently I've been having issues getting her to pick up her right leg lead.

I started riding her consistently in july and August, from May to June i was pretty off and on. In September, i started working her a few times a week, for about an hour a ride. Then, in October I started picking up the pace a bit and working her for a bit longer, about 1 and a half to 2 hours a night 4-5 days a week. She is fit as a fiddle these days, but she nearly refuses to pick up her right leg lead. I recognize that she is very naturally "left-handed" and prefers to pick up her left lead, but she has managed to take this to an extreme level.

She can counter canter going on circles to the right no matter the size- small or big. I can ask her to pick up a canter with her head to the inside of a circle, outside of the circle, head straight, while doing figure eights, serpintines, cloverleafs, virtually any shape while turning any direction whatsoever and she will do whatever it takes to pick up her left lead rather than her right. but, I know she CAN do her right lead, because when lunging she is eventually able to pick up the right lead, with some encouragement.(I usually have to ask her to get on the right lead several times, going back down to a trot everytime she picks up the left lead going to the right) *note: I CAN get her to pick up the right lead while riding circles EVENTUALLY, it is just a huge pain and a heck of a lot of work and she will switch leads as soon as she gets the chance.

I know it's not a pain related issue, we had a vet look at her in September. Her saddle fits, and I've tried riding in other saddles just in case that was the problem with no luck. Different bits, bareback, everything.

This horse also will not do a flying lead change from a left lead canter to a right lead canter-not that I expect that of her this early in our time together but it's just another thing ive tried doing to get her to pick up the right lead. When doing figure eights, we will canter the round part and I will ask for a simple lead change in the middle and she will counter canter the next round part.

Now don't get me wrong, this mare is very athletic and we do all sorts of complex maneuvers at the walk and trot-sidepassing, leg yielding, turning, backing, she is getting the hang of spings, turning on the forhand and backhand, sliding stops. she is also extremely agile at the left lead canter. It's the right lead that's got me stumped. She's got the energy, but she isn't crazy and will stop when asked.

So basically, my question for you all, is how do you get a very naturally lefthanded horse to pick up the right lead?
 

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My horse is the other way around. My horse is right footed and hates the left lead. I still fight with him about it. I started on the ground and worked on it there. My friends horse also did the same time. He did it and he knew he could change when ever he felt like it. So we had to start making him feel bad about being on that lead.
 

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I know it's not a pain related issue, we had a vet look at her in September. Her saddle fits, and I've tried riding in other saddles just in case that was the problem with no luck. Different bits, bareback, everything.
From what you describe, I really think that pain is your culprit.

What type of vet examined your horse? Was it an equine lameness specialist? If not, that's who you should have check you horse. Plus, even if you did already have a lameness specialist look, I'd go get a second opinion. Sometimes things are hidden and hard to find.

Have you had her checked by a chiropractor? I know that my horse Red will have difficulty with picking up his right lead when he is over-due for his chiro visit. He;s typically out in his right poll and right wither. Once he's back in adjustment, I have no issue getting the lead.

When was the last time her teeth were examined by a dentist?

I think you should dig deeper into making sure pain isn't an issue. From all you describe about this mare and everything she can do, there's got to be something hindering her from wanting to take up that right lead.


Yes, it is possible that you could somehow be cueing her differently on the right side than the left side and confusing her.

Do you have a video you can show us?

What exactly do you do with each piece of your body when you ask her to pick up a lead?
 

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My mare that I recently traded was like this. She could side pass, leg yield, rein back, etc. She moved off leg and seat relatively well. However, she would not pick up her right lead 99% of the time. If you halted her, backed a step or two, and asked from the halt, she was able to take off on the right lead, although she often would change back to left after a few strides. Her right lead was also very stiff feeling when you could get her to keep it. We worked on it for months and made absolutely no progress. Anyway, she was x-rayed after a bout of lameness this spring, and she had hock arthritis. She was only 14 this summer. I treated her with regular IV HA and a joint supplement and anti-inflammatories, but was still never able to get right lead canter. It was frustrating because she could trail ride over rough terrain all day and never act like she was in pain, and she was otherwise so good in the arena, but when I watched her more closely, she was showing discomfort in subtle ways that I would have missed without the x-rays as proof.

My point is that it can be easy to miss a pain issue, and if your horse is otherwise obedient, she's probably trying to tell you that something hurts, not just be obnoxious. Some horses are very stoic, and other than little things like refusing a lead, you would never know. Hopefully it's something easy to treat. Maybe something is out and she just needs the chiropractor?

PS: If you are sure it's not pain, and your mare picks up canter from a halt ok, punishing the horse for the wrong lead by halting and backing a few steps sometimes works. It was what I had most luck with.
 
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