Difficulty picking correct canter lead

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by MilkyBarKid, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. MilkyBarKid

    MilkyBarKid New Member

    My boy is having troubles picking up the right canter lead. He definitely has a dominant right leg, but under lunge line he picks up the lead 75-80% of the time. Every time riding though he takes 2-3 goes before picking it up.

    I know it's very definitely my fault, and Im on the lookout for a dressage instructor to help me and my boy. But in the meantime, is there any methods I can use to guide him into the correct lead? :confused:
  2. Marz

    Marz Well-known Member

    How does his trot-canter transitions go in terms of balance/confidence/coordination?

    How are you asking him and what have you tried?

    they tend to pick it up easier on the lunge because they don't have to think about too much else- and no over thinking about what you're asking.

    If you have the opportunity maybe have someone lunge him while you ride without reins?

    Otherwise asking on a circle, or in a corner (as usual). My friend had luck getting a horse she was riding to get the right lead by lift both reins up & out. This would seem counter-productive but it worked for her ';'

    Make sure his trot is steady and half-halt before asking for the transition- putting him on his hindquarters and hopefully freeing up his front/inside leg.

    try and over-exaggerate what your asking without unbalancing him. leave everything else but your weight & leg position alone. if he's getting most of the time on the lunge, he might just be confused under saddle (as I said before).

    good luck :)*
  3. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    I used to have that problem too. It was me and my balance, I was the problem I was weaker on the left handside. I was made to ride bareback on the lunge at the trott for what felt like months. It did fix my balance and most of the issues I had been having with super sensitive horse.:D
  4. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

  5. MilkyBarKid

    MilkyBarKid New Member

    He's a very well trained horse (back in the day). After a few years off, he's being brought back into it.
    I find if I completely over exaggerate my aids; outside leg right back, steady outside rein and giving with inside rein on a 20m circle that he would pick it up eventually- But would over exaggerating from the beginning cause problems later? I don't want to have to exaggerate haha, I want to be subtle :lol: . At first I just did a flying change back onto the correct leg after he picked up the wrong one... But stopped that quickly because I don't want him to pick up the wrong leg to begin with.

    He's a steady balanced horse, if the rider is a steady balanced rider.
    He's no OTTB :} **)
  6. JustJam

    JustJam Well-known Member

    If he is a very well trained horse, then the issue is you! ;) :D

    So, my best tip, is to ask for the correct canter lead by 'turning to look to the outside' - don't be lazy about it, really turn your whole body, in one smooth movement, to look to the outside.

    This will cause you to give the correct aid, without you having to pick-up reins, think about leg position etc etc

    Once the canter transition has happened, regain your 'straight, balanced' riding position and ride the canter correctly :)

    As you become better at this, you will eventually be able to just 'think' canter, your body will 'twitch' because you thought it, and your horse will happily canter at just your thought :))
  7. MilkyBarKid

    MilkyBarKid New Member

    I know it's me :cry: I will definitely try that! Thankyou heaps!
  8. magic_impact

    magic_impact Well-known Member

    I would not be so sure that it is you! I don't know of many horses who don't pick up the correct lead 100% of the time on the lunge... especially if he is as well trained and balanced as you say he is...

    I wouldn't be looking so much at the training aspect but more on the soundness/soreness aspect. If he is not quite right, just having a riders weight added could be the reason that he is less keen to pick up the lead when you are on board. Worth looking into as a possiblity anyway?
  9. MilkyBarKid

    MilkyBarKid New Member

    If he doesn't pick up the right one on the lunge, it's because I rushed him into it.
    He was recently checked by a vet for soundness issues all over (although no x-rays), because I needed a statement for insurance :p
  10. MilkyBarKid

    MilkyBarKid New Member


    Bit of a show off picture :3
  11. As Magic Impact said above, it can be a soreness or stiffness issue preventing him picking up the canter lead easily.
    I think you said he has had some time off? It's possible that he doesn't have the same strength or co-ordination he had before he went on spell, or has some kind of injury, even if it's healed up and he is sound now they can often have compensatory issues that restrict range of motion.
  12. MilkyBarKid

    MilkyBarKid New Member

    He's never had an injury, He lived with his owner the entire time and was checked on several times a day.

    It's possible he may be slightly tight along his hamstrings, as he showed stiffness the first few rides. He does get equissage weekly, with a main focus along his back, loins, hamstrings and poll.

    I don't think currently it's any pain or discomfort by him. He picks up the right leg if I go from walk to canter. It's out trot to canter :(
  13. MilkyBarKid

    MilkyBarKid New Member


    So just wanted to give a quick update. After a few more weeks of missing the lead, I decided to get a barefoot trimmer out to fix a shoddy (he he) trim the fortnight before.

    She instantly asked once she looked at his hinds if he has problems picking his leads. Then went on to explain that his coffin bone is slightly negative in both, which is putting strain on his hocks, stifles and sacroiliac joints. With strain on those joints, he was finding he couldn't stretch out correctly with his inside hind to pickup his lead but found less resistance throwing his outside hind slightly forward-particularly on his right canter lead.
    Also a deficiency in magnesium was causing slow nerve response and wasn't helping either.

    I rode the day after the trim, and we picked up every canter lead. 3 rides in, and this has continued.

    Who would have guessed, just small bullnosing :p

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