Canter lead issues

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by clja, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. clja

    clja Registered

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    My horse cannot for the life of her get the left lead. Would you think hocks, stifles, or something else. She struggled with it over a year ago but not to this degree. The past 9-10 months she has gotten it 99.9% and could easily do simple changes right to left without a fuss. (We've never asked for flying changes.) She seems pretty unhappy to work to the left in general but will do it. When asking for the left lead she will counter bend and put her nose to the rail and pick up the wrong lead every time. She just is very against bending and putting her nose inward going that direction. No limping so short striding. Flexion test were all negative. I guess xrays are next on the list but just seeing if anyone has experienced this. As I said when we got this horse she only got this lead about 50% of the time then this past year she has been perfect with it. She even offered a flying change to the left lead over a jump. But the past 4 days it is just not there. Tried putting a ground pole down and tried the corners and even in a circle she just throws herself to the right lead.
     
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  2. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Don't let her counterbend and put her nose to the rail when she's asked to canter. Use your inside bending aids - inside leg at girth, inside rein to bend, outside leg if needed to 'guard' the haunches from shifting outward, off the circle line, outside rein to maintain contact and bring the shoulders in, back onto the circle line. Ride on a contact so you have a feel of both reins and don't let her turn her head to the rail.

    Only pick up the canter on a circle. A large 60 ft diameter circle. But at no point in the circle, let her get straight. Keep bending all the time, although it's not a really severe or sharp bend of the body/neck, it's that 'smooth' bend of a 60 ft diameter circle. Think of the rail or fence only as 'brief touch points', not as places where the horse's neck is allowed to be straight or turned to the outside.

    If she 'throws' her head, neck, shoulders to the outside, inside bend using your inside rein(later once your outside rein is working that will come into play in getting control of shoulders too), inside leg, work on that and don't continue to try to make the canter transition at just that moment. Work on the position of her body on the circle first.

    Work on circles at the trot to the left and right. Work on changing the bend, going from 20 m (60 ft diameter, 'large circle') to the left, then the right. DO NOT let her get straight in the part of the figure between circles. Go from right bend to left bend with no hesitation, and no moment of straightness.

    To help you get the idea of controlling the shoulders, do a 'dressage style' leg yield, get a dressage instructor to show you how, I'm not referring to how George Morris teaches leg yield or how Western or hunter trainers teach leg yield. This is different and will help you control, rather than just move, shoulders. You may need him/her to show you how to bend on your circles as well.
     
  3. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    If this is a new development than something is up.

    Have you had the vet out to do flexion tests since this started?? I'm guessing not, but maybe I'm wrong?

    There's a reason, and my guess is that it isn't a training issue. I suspect that something has changed. Be it she's out in chiropractic way, or has a muscle issue, or has injured herself in some other manner. Horses don't just decide one day they are no longer going to canter on 1 lead - there's a reason for it. Now to find the reason.

    My guess given the time frame of year, is a slip in the field and the SI/pelvis is out. That could explain everything you've described.
     
  4. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

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    Have you ever had her adjusted by a chiropractor? I'm with R&B; I'm willing to bet SI/pelvis.

    Plus that's probably her weaker side anyway so if she's got pain issues along with strength issues, it's a natural effect.
     
  5. Circle C

    Circle C Senior Member

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    Every time this has happened to me with a horse, I've gotten them body work and it has solved it 100%. (Massage/Chiro) I found a really good EMT last year and since having her work on my horses, I haven't had to use a chiro again. I get much better results with massage.
     
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  6. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    People bend better one way and that skews the horse's musculature to be stronger on one side.

    With race horses, tipping the nose away from the turn tells you that the horse wants to put most of the strain on the inside leg because the outside has an issue.

    If you use your body and over cue the horse by ONLY using your body to cue the lead, and the horse still doesn't pick up the lead, then there's an issue.

    If you just sit in the middle and use rein and leg, the issue is more with your not cueing properly. Your body weight shift, your eyes looking the way you need her to go, is cue ONE. Skip that cue and you have lop sided horses.
     
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  7. LoveTrail

    LoveTrail Senior Member

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    Only time I had a horse all of sudden not take a lead was actually lame in both front feet from a severe case of thrush. CSU took all of his frog out and put in silicone and shoes to keep it in for a couple of shoeings. Was able to ride him right away and no more lead issues.
     
  8. DocsLglyBlonde

    DocsLglyBlonde Senior Member

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    My mare won't pick up her leads when her hocks are sore or consequently, SI region is sore. She'll also cross fire in the same instances. Bottom line, I'd put money on it being physical with it being so sudden, but it can be any number of things.
     
  9. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    This might be due to lameness, or it might be due to how the rider signals the horse to canter.

    Most riders are crooked, many have problems asking the horse to canter, and eventually the horse starts reacting to that. People don't always realize that they are crooked. Body awareness - knowing what your body is doing - is not so easy.

    Years ago a gal had an older 'been there, done that' horse. Horse was probably about 13. Never used hard, no physical problems. Just a nice, generous older horse. One day she asked me to help her canter. She was in tears. Going left, the horse always picked up the 'wrong lead.'

    I watched for a little while to see what was going wrong. The rider was in tears. "She's doing it deliberately!" the rider said through her tears.

    I explained that when she asked for the left lead canter, she put her right leg way forward and her left leg way back. The horse was doing what she told the horse to do. She needed to switch the position of her legs, and put her right leg back, and her left leg at the girth.

    "I am not!" she shouted. I said ok, and went back to the barn, shaking my head. She went on riding, crying, booting the horse and yelling at the horse. About 30 min later she came into the barn, put the horse in its stall and left.

    I asked her instructor, "can she not feel where her legs are?"

    The instructor shook her head and said, "She doesn't learn like other people."

    And the truth is that no one learns like other people. To one degree or another, we all have the same problem.

    I mention this lady because her case was so obvious and so severe. But in truth, this happens a lot.

    So yes. It can be lameness. Or not. We all have some degree of trouble feeling what our bodies and our weight is doing up there.
     
  10. clja

    clja Registered

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    Thanks for the replies. Our trainer wants to keep pushing through and work on bending etc since we had this issue last year. I'm reluctant because the mare has been sooooo good with both leads for quite a long time now not even fighting the simple change going left in fact it's been a very nice 1/2-1 trot stride from right to left lead with no fuss. The more we try to get her nose to bend inside she fights so hard to keep it to the rail to avoid that left lead. No buck no bolt no cow kick no crossfiring. Out of 13 tries last night she got the left lead only 1x and couldn't hold it for even 1 lap around although she looked and felt sound and balanced. The vet will be out next week I just want to be prepared. Everything I read online is 50/50 hocks vs stifles. When we purchased her last year and realized she couldn't get this left lead we had the vet come and she did flexion's and evaluated her under saddle and on the lunge and couldn't find anything wrong with her. She is barefoot and her hinds get medial flares both medially and laterally if she goes more than 4 weeks between trims. I am sure that means she is unbalanced or unloading those limbs in a weird fashion. She is slightly cowhocked AND sicklehocked which also contributes to her confirmation. Thanks again.
     

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