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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have been riding the barn managers horses where I board for the past few month and this one horse can be difficult to lope off on the correct lead. I can get him to do it but I have to start off on the middle of a disengagement. I was curious some other methods used to make a horse take off on the correct lead/teach it to them. I know you can cut through the middle and shift the hip and shoulder over and that can sometimes help but other than that I haven’t had this tough of a time getting them on the correct lead from engagement of the gait. Any suggestions?
 

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I don't understand "start off on the middle of a disengagement"?

Are you trotting or trying to strike off from a walk or standstill?
 
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Trot some figure 8's, then go into a circle and ask for the canter. Do a few circles cantering, then to a trot in the figure 8 again to switch directions, trot as much as needed to rebalance the horse if needed.
Go the other way and ask for canter in the circle. Repeat a few times till they 'get it'.
If this works, gradually make the circles and figure 8's larger and larger until it's an arena size circle and figure 8, ask for the canter in the corners until you have it solid, then you can ask along the rail, and eventually off the rail.

Another way...
You can try using a ground pole. Trot up then ask for canter over the pole. Do this a few times each way, it may help them figure out how to lift their feet to pick it up. Can also do this with the one above.

From a walk and halt...
Walk then canter the good way. After a few strides halt turn on the haunch, canter off the other way. If they don't get it halt, then trot a small circle going the way you want the lead, walk, then ask again when you hit the rail off the circle. Try it a couple times, if no good then try something else.

Yet another way, similar to way #1 but still different.
Canter the good way a few laps to get going forward. Cut across the short side of the arena, when you are about to hit the rail, ask for a trot. Trot 1-2 steps then quickly change directions when you hit the rail and ask for the canter at the same time.

Another thing to think about is shifting the horses hind end in a little bit, lifting the hand/core to tip the nose in, and timing your ask to get it just right.

I think these will also help with flying changes later on if you wan those.
 

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Shoulder and hip control. Be able to ride a shoulder in and baby travers, plus leg yield and that should give you all the tools you need. Then you can combine those with other exercises like poles or spiraling out.

When my horse was younger, he had issues with his right lead. We ended up schooling traveres at the walk and asking for the canter out of the walk. That allowed us to keep better control over his body. In the trot it was too easy for him to shift his shoulder back over at the last moment and take the incorrect lead.

Be aware that difficulty taking a lead can indicate soundness issues. The time I mentioned above with my horse was actually one of the first signs of a stifle injury that went undiagnosed for years, until once again he stopped picking up the lead. Then we got a diagnosis.

It can be soundness, or it can be muscle strength. It can also be the rider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In the middle of a disengage as in yielding the hind, similar to a one rein stop. It’s so you can push the hip in and angle the shoulder out so they are in the position to engage into the lope/canter on the correct lead. This part I know. I have also been trying to work on a hind yield in a way that can be done at a walk or trot to see if that can help but this horse is a bit dull and the bracey type(he loves to lean on legs and hands)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
More helpful info: This horse also used to not walk straight when I started with him. He would zigzag all over the place by pushing with his shoulders. This has slowly been getting and has gotten much better. I feel part of his issue is the lack of shoulder control that still remains and how dull/stiff he is. He is in his teens I think and I’m sure he was never trained much as a youngerster and he has sat in a pasture on and off for months-years at a time.
However I have also been curious about a stiffness or lameness problem with him because he has a slight choppy gait, to the point it makes my back sore. Which is another thing that could be the problem. I could be leaning and throwing off his balance from the soreness in my back after riding him for over 15- 20 minutes at a trot. I can ride two or more of the other horses around the barn and feel great, or I can ride my horse all day and be ready for more. I am 23 with no physical limitations. So this is something else I have been very curious about with this horse. I know choppy gait can mean lameness sometimes as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
And visually this horse moves nicely as the Farrier as well as others have sat and watched me riding him and has been overseeing the riding of this horse for the barn manager whom doesn’t know how to ride very well so she uses the Farrier to help her with her horses in that department. Everyone that sees him ridden/in motion says he looks great. Although I know they aren’t veterinarians....
 

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Generally speaking If a horse is sound and is able to pick up the correct lead without a rider, then the problem maybe a result of either an unbalanced rider, a horse that needs refinement in their training or a combination of the two. If this horse is not trained to where you can independently move its hips, then the horse would not understand the cue for the correct lead. If this is the case I would work on refining this area of training until you can independently put his feet were ever you want. Slow down the training and perfect this standing still and at the walk. Once this is achieved you will be able to move his hip and place the inside rear foot in position when you cue for the correct lead. In terms of rider balance when asking for the lead the riders weight should be on their outside pocket, with the riders inside shoulder slightly forward and you should be cueing the horse to move his hip to the inside with your outside leg. In some cases the shift of the riders weight alone is enough to push a horse into the correct lead, but if you have both rider balance and a horse responsive to leg cues your success will be greater.

Best of luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I started to really think about it and use a shift in my hips and shoulders to help but at that point i was too sore since it was toward the end of a ride. His trot used to be really rough as well but I have gotten him to begin to learn some collection and once he rounds his back some he smooths out and slows to a jog. Maybe if I back up and do some Hill work and build his top line that could help.. 🤔 the paint horse on the left is the horse I am talking about.
 

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I would try easing up on your inside rein, hold the outside though. Sometimes the inside rein, however little, can throw some horses into the wrong lead. Try concentrating on your outside cues more, inside is passive. This seems to work for some discombobulated horses.
 

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If you want the right lead---



Trot or lope circles to the left on the left lead. When the horse is relaxed and supple, ask for a stop. Reverse a couple of steps, then leg yield to the left and cue for the right lead. The horse will step off into it 99% of the time provided they aren't sore-- this exercise shifts the weight to the rear and opens up the right shoulder so it's virtually impossible for him not to take it. The key to this is having the horse soft and supple so you can get a reverse and leg yield without pulling on the face and making him stiff and resistant. Reverse the procedure if your problem is the left lead.



If you ONLY ask for the problem lead this way for awhile, it seems to make a big difference. Don't allow the horse to make a mistake. Set him up for success and it really does help. Eventually you will be able to ask for the lead from lifting the inside shoulder as if preparing for a leg yield, and cueing the lope.
 
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