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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have recently acquired a nice palomino gelding. I was told by the trustworthy friend who told me he was available for purchase, that the owners at the time were very inexperienced, and only yahooed around on him once a week or less. She also advised me that he was only ever asked to canter/lope off on the right lead. I thought this would be a fairly easy fix, but that's definitely not the case! I have tried everything I can think of and no way, no how will he pick up the left lead. He is a well natured horse, and is completely frustrated with the fact that I don't realize there is only 1 lead to choose.....right. He won't even lunge to the left now at all, except free lunging, which is the only time he can be chased into the left lead. He does it freely and easily it seems, however under saddle it seems that the only thing he can do when cued to canter/lope is choose right. Help!!!! I need some ideas here.
 

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I would canter him in a tight-ish circle to the left *a lot.* Make him REALLY uncomfertable. No matter what lead he picks, circle left, left, left, as tight as you can with him still cantering. He'll figure out he needs to switch. If he goes to the trot *to change,* let him. When he does go off on the correct lead, praise praise praise praise, and give him his rein and let him straight. Pet him and talk to him untill he trots. Let him trot when he wants when he gets his lead. Later when he freely picks them both, you can ask for more. Make sure to keep excersizing both sides!

THis just makes sense to me, and I think I've heard of someone doing it before :)
 
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In my experience, horses that refuse to canter on one lead are misaligned. It is not a learned behaviour, only that they find it very uncomfortable.

Odd on this horse is 'out' in his right hind quarter and left shoulder.

Get this sorted and problem is resolved.
 

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JumperX I would NEVER ask a horse that won't canter on a lead to be on a tight circle to make it 'uncomfortable' for them. There is a reason behind it. If he's in pain for whatever reason, you're going to sour him. Not only that, cantering a tight circle means he's more likely to fall in on himself, where as I would want straight, go, and big corners, not even pushing him in to them till his confidence is built up.

OP, Check saddle, back, ribs- everything. As Fox said, there may be a darn good reason for it.

Other than that, I would leave the lope for now. If he's been yahooed around, work on things with him first, build up his muscle, balance and confidence in w/t for now.. it may take a couple of months, lots of barn figures.. ask for lope when you lunge him or free lunge him so he does get chance to do it, but work with him first and get him in to condition for it.

Good luck.
 

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JumperX I would NEVER ask a horse that won't canter on a lead to be on a tight circle to make it 'uncomfortable' for them. There is a reason behind it. If he's in pain for whatever reason, you're going to sour him. Not only that, cantering a tight circle means he's more likely to fall in on himself, where as I would want straight, go, and big corners, not even pushing him in to them till his confidence is built up.

OP, Check saddle, back, ribs- everything. As Fox said, there may be a darn good reason for it.
I disagree with you on this one duffy for the most part anyway. Yes i would check saddle, back etc first but if everything is ok then I would concider doing as JumperX says

Reeco didnt know how to canter at all, when pushed and pushed he eventualy broke out of trot into a canter with his front legs but a bunny hop with his back legs together, Cantering him in tight circles on undulating terrain made him have to work for it and sort out his legs, so when we took him back in the school canter came easily on the correct leg on a 20m circle.
Sometimes horses just have to be pushed untill they find the proper way to do it.


However with a horse who obviously does know how to canter I would want to know what the OP has done to try and teach it to strike off on the other lead? there are loads of methods to teach it depending on the horse.
 

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I disagree with you on this one duffy for the most part anyway. Yes i would check saddle, back etc first but if everything is ok then I would concider doing as JumperX says

Reeco didnt know how to canter at all, when pushed and pushed he eventualy broke out of trot into a canter with his front legs but a bunny hop with his back legs together, Cantering him in tight circles on undulating terrain made him have to work for it and sort out his legs, so when we took him back in the school canter came easily on the correct leg on a 20m circle.
Sometimes horses just have to be pushed untill they find the proper way to do it.


However with a horse who obviously does know how to canter I would want to know what the OP has done to try and teach it to strike off on the other lead? there are loads of methods to teach it depending on the horse.

Agree to disagree ;)

Your last bit should have been something I put in to my post.. brains fallen out.. its Monday :lol:

If it IS rider error and not pain (as the horse can do this free lunged, I would say pain, or rider error) then putting the horse in a tight circle and making it uncomfortable is doing what.. making an uncomfortable situation for a horse when its not the horse's 'issue' so much as the rider's. Then again, after you're last statement has been answered a more in depth answer can be given.

I agree some horses need more Umph to get the job done, especially training new/green horses.. however, not to make the horse uncomfortable to do it..
 

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Prepare your horse properly and leads will be no problem. Make sure that you can control the front and hind quarters independently at a walk and a trot. A lot of two tracking and haunches in/out, turning on the forehand and hinds and leg yielding. Then you can easily move the different parts of your horse and shape the horse up to take the correct lead then get out of his way and let him take it. Make sure you're riding straight up and not leaning or trying to push the horse into the lead. I've never seen a horse that could do the above mentioned things that was hard to get on the correct lead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks so much for all the input! It's very frustrating dealing with OP messes. I signed up for this one, so I have to see it through. I will try to post a picture of this really cute guy. I ran him silly for 2 outings and he never did more than kick out at my spur a couple of times, and do allot of sulling and trying to get to the door. If he wanted me off, I'd have been off by now. He just doesn't get it. I don't beat anything into doing anything, but I pushed HARD, and he wouldn't budge. I am confident that there are no pain issues. He can hump it really good, as I saw when free lunging him, and he picked up the left lead almost every time I cracked the whip. I refused to let him lunge right, so after pushing him left around the arena free lunge (which is a feat in itself given an 8x180 :shock:) with side reins on, he chose the proper lead 9 ou of 10 times. He can willingly trot tight circles both ways, but doesn't have a good understanding of leg yielding in my opinion. He seems very smart, and he can do hard excercises at the trot ears up telling me there is no pain there. I think it is deeply ingrained in his brain right, right, right, under saddle, so I have to go back and do what I don't think was ever done with him,.....teaching.
I really appreciate all the feedback, and want to hear and try all excercises that anyone can think of to help him learn to understand there is a left lead under saddle.
 

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Prepare your horse properly and leads will be no problem.
This.

I agree with Duffy - given the pain and fit are ruled out I wouldn't canter my horse in tight circles (unless horse is ready, which is clearly not a case). I'd establish nice balanced trot on big circle, bend him to the inside, and ask him to canter. If he picks a wrong lead, quietly bring him back right away, 2-3 strides on trot and ask again.
 

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i agree with the big circles.as you do,keep his nose tipped to the right and keep your right heel sqeezed into him.
 

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I have recently acquired a nice palomino gelding. I was told by the trustworthy friend who told me he was available for purchase, that the owners at the time were very inexperienced, and only yahooed around on him once a week or less. She also advised me that he was only ever asked to canter/lope off on the right lead. I thought this would be a fairly easy fix, but that's definitely not the case! I have tried everything I can think of and no way, no how will he pick up the left lead. He is a well natured horse, and is completely frustrated with the fact that I don't realize there is only 1 lead to choose.....right. He won't even lunge to the left now at all, except free lunging, which is the only time he can be chased into the left lead. He does it freely and easily it seems, however under saddle it seems that the only thing he can do when cued to canter/lope is choose right. Help!!!! I need some ideas here.
So obviously there's nothing wrong with him and he can do it if he's doing it when he's not under saddle.

So what aids are you using to get left lead?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Round pen won't be completed until after the spring. It will be 60'. That's why I have resorted to free lunging to the left only in the arena. He can get away from me on the lunge line to the left. Also finding out more info. He was purchased by the yahoos as a 2 so no doubt left in my mind how much training he is lacking. Gonna have to go back to the beginning.
 

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So obviously there's nothing wrong with him and he can do it if he's doing it when he's not under saddle.

So what aids are you using to get left lead?
Disagree, I've seen horse's do thing in a field and had a rib popped out so under saddle, a bit of a nightmare.. I'd still get everything checked over once.. if the horse in unable due to pain, better to rule that out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Using all left lead aides known to man. Right leg back, left leg supporting at the girth, left rein lifted, right rein at my hip, more outside rein to counter bend, pushing haunches into the circle, you name it, he still picks up the right lead......under saddle. Kiss means right lead. I can sit and do nothing and just kiss and get right lead. He wants to do, he just doesnt know he has a left. He breaks into a left lead free lunging because nature tells him to. Humans told him right lead, right lead, right lead. I think I just have to be patient and keep asking and wait for it to happen. I don't even think it is a strength issue. Believe me he is strong! Hence teaching them the basics when they are younger, with no pre-conceived ideas (except flight of course), and slighter of build and muscle. He is a honkin bus this lad.
 

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ok giddyup,then let's use the big pen.if pain is ruled out,then either keep him along the rail or make an imaginary big circle.while trotting,keep his nose tipped out and keep your right leg squeezed in him.let's see if we can get him to shift the majority of his balance towards the left shoulder.that's what he has to pick up first to throw himself into the left lead.
 

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I would canter him in a tight-ish circle to the left *a lot.* Make him REALLY uncomfertable. No matter what lead he picks, circle left, left, left, as tight as you can with him still cantering. He'll figure out he needs to switch.

THis just makes sense to me, and I think I've heard of someone doing it before :)
Sorry - no. If you allow the horse to continue on the wrong lead - he will simply continue on the wrong lead. A "tight-ish" circle will not make him uncomfortable but will possibly put him off balance enough to fall.
 

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I had the same problem with my mare when I got her, except with the opposite lead. I was able to fix it with lots of ground work and lunging, but that may not work for you since your horse is already picking it up right on the lunge line. I also found it helps to ask for the canter departure coming out of a tight circle. It makes it harder for them to get on the wrong lead. Once the horse starts to get it you can start out from a larger and larger circle until eventually you're able to get it on the rail.

Definitely rule out pain though. I was all set to call the chiropractor, but we had a breakthrough the next day and everything just clicked after that. It turned out she just plain didn't know how to move her feet to get on the right lead.

One more thing that might help is doing lots of circles and serpentines at the trot to help build up the muscles on that side.
 

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Thanks, Clinton Anderson o.o Appreciate it :p Found that's what I got that from. I have a horse that would only lope on his right - he is in no pain (3 vets have come out - I like to switch it up when we are just doing checkups) his old owner just did the same as this - only loped to the left. I did this to get him to work on the other lead. Worked just fine. I've only had one ever fall on me, and it was a totally different horse in a totally different situation - he just tripped while trotting... it was embaressing (sp?) :p
 

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My Paint filly started doing this on me due to undetected scoliosis on my part - I was riding her so crooked it made it uncomfortable for her to take the left lead and it developed into this huge monster of a problem where the minute she even THOUGHT you might be thinking about asking for a canter, she'd violently throw her head to the outside, swish her tail and almost "limp" to make sure she was always set up to take her right lead instead of her left lead.

Of all the advice I got from certified coaches and trainers, do not EVER allow them to canter on the wrong lead. All you do is strengthen the muscles it takes to run around on the wrong lead and you teach them absolutely nothing. It may "fluke out" and work on some horses, but you're just asking for total destruction of any quality in the stride when they finally get it.

I could "throw" Jynx onto the correct lead by practically doing a "rollback" with her at the trot. I was informed this was almost as bad as letting them canter on the wrong lead - again, you have them in terrible balance, no rhythm and they certainly don't learn a thing from it. You risk injury this way from not setting them up.

I agree with kevinshorses 110%. I finally realized I was in over my head and hired a Dressage trainer to help Jynx. When set up properly, she has ZERO problems getting the lead. My trainer has gotten the wrong lead MAYBE once or twice in 3 months of training, and in fact, is actually discovering it's her RIGHT lead canter that needs the work - she gets the lead but is far less balanced.

It sucked having to admit I couldn't do it, but the quality of my horses gaits were more important then me insisting on doing it myself. If a horse is set up correctly by a professional trainer, very rarely do you encounter a problem they can't fix within one session. Definitely something to consider if you're having so many issue with this lead!
 
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