|New Jersey 18 year old MFT ridden in mullen
mouth curb or mullen mouth snaffle and western saddle in indoor ring, outdoor
ring, trails by intermediate level rider
Question: When my 18 yr. old foxtrotter canters on her left lead, she
canters in the front and trots behind. On her right lead, she does a regular
canter, but it is faster than when she is on her left lead. What can I
do to get a good canter on her left lead? Is it that she is just
From Panelist Stella
On a horse this age, you may be getting a touch of arthritis in back, hocks the usual place...not to worry, the work, if done slowly and gradually to build her up at first, will actually be beneficial, especially if done on a regular basis.
From what she's doing, it may be from not being cantered very much, or previous lack of complete training on the canter, or some of both,too. Work large circles, both directions, to help strengthen both sides. Most inexperienced horses (inexperienced with actual training for the canter) will do either of the things you describe, even young ones. An older horse not worked for a period of time in a particular gait may "remember," but lack of use creates out-of-condition musculature, so even if the brain gets and gives "the message," the performance will not be to par until some conditioning is done.
One the right side, initially work at the speed she can handle it; a
little faster is normal, and the circle should help slow her down somewhat,
and continued regular work...start short periods, larger circles, then
gradually lengthen time, decrease circles every few days...ask as you feel
her better physically in condition to handle it,so that her body is up
to part to
Your horse's situation rather reminds me of when I sat down to a piano
after many years of not playing, whereas I was quite accomplished at one
point...I was SO frustrated not to be able to play any better than a beginner!
I could read all the notes, knew just where the keys were, but my hands
just couldn't do what my brain told them to...it took a couple weeks of
practice to get back to the point I'd left off! (rusty!)So take your time
in working with her, while she "relearns"...she's likely just as frustrated
as you are...after all, for a horse, the greatest joy is the accomplishment
and agility of movement.
From Panelist Liz
If all is ok then maybe start doing some lateral exercises such as shoulders
in and shoulders out. It is normal for a horse just like people to be stronger
on one side and weaker on the other. Build up the muscles and working towards
more flexibility on the weak side can
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