Getting your horse to take a problem lead : Rising Sun Stables
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Getting your horse to take a problem lead

by Karen Tharp on 09/11/11

My blog today is going to be how to get your horse to take a problem lead!

When you're riding a horse that you've just started, you'll notice he almost always takes the same lead, no matter which  direction he is loping.  This is normal.  Just like people who are left or right handed, most colts will be  left or right leaded.  It's not a big deal or something you should be overly concerned  about.

All you really need to do is get your horse to lope on his bad  lead until he gets comfortable with it.  Once he gets used to loping in either lead, then you can start 
adding refinement to his lead departures. 
Of course, the problem is getting him to take the BAD lead to begin with.

Let's say the colt won't pick up the right lead.  I trot the horse alongside the fence, placing the fence on my right. My horse will be parallel and about 6’ from the fence. From the walk or trot, I'll turn the colt into the fence. Halfway through that turn, I'll kick him with my outside leg (which would be my left leg) and I'll cluck to him to pick up the lope. If he won't pick up the lope, I might swat him on the butt with the end of the rein. If I can get him to turn to the right and pick up the lope at the same time, he is almost forced to pick up that right lead. 

I should point out, if you have to swat the colt on the butt to get him to pick up the lope, make sure you swat him on the side “opposite” from the lead. In other words, if you want him to pick up the “right” lead, swat him on the “left” hip. 

Also, it’s important to handle your reins correctly when doing this. Let's say you're going to turn the colt into the fence to the right.  Cross your reins and put them in your right hand. Have your right rein shorter than your left rein so you can turn him into the fence “nose first” with a direct rein.
Have the end of your rein in your left hand so that when you turn into the fence, halfway through you can pop him on the butt.
The timing of this is pretty critical, halfway through the turn — while he's facing the fence - use your outside (left) leg.  Right after you bump him with your outside leg, you swat him on the butt with the end of the rein using your left hand. If you want, you could use a bat to pop him on the hip, instead of the rein.
Sometimes you’ll have a horse that will pick up the correct lead – but then take a couple strides and switch to the wrong lead again. The way you fix that is to ride him into a circle “immediately” after he picks up the lead.
If he won't hold the “right” lead, you’d turn him into the fence, jump him into the right lead, and then lope him into a circle to the “right”.
Here is the sequence of steps to pick up the right lead: Ride parallel to a fence on your right

1.  Turn to the right, into the fence  
2.  halfway thought the turn, kick with your outside (left) leg 
3.  If necessary, swat on the outside (left) hip with the rein or bat
4.  Go into the lope 
5.  Circle to the right to encourage him stay on the right lead  

If you’ll be consistent with this procedure, it will have your colt picking up the correct lead almost every time.  However, when you first start this, you have to make sure you don’t overdo it. Repeating it two or three times each direction, is probably enough on a particular ride.

Don't do it so many times in one ride that you scare him half to death. Do it just enough to give him the idea and that’s all. If he gets it, great.  If he doesn't get it, wait until the following day to try it again.  That way you'll keep him calm and your progress will be smoother.

This will work on any horse that is having lead change trouble.

Hope every one has had a great weekend Until next time, take care.


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