Dusty – asking for left canter lead

Dusty often struggles to pick up his left canter lead, whereas he finds the right lead much easier. When asked for canter on the left rein he will often set off on the wrong leg or just rush off in trot. This week I was very lucky to be able to borrow a friend’s outdoor school, so I did a little bit of work with him on his canter.

Blog 3

I have noticed before that on the left rein in general he seems to be slightly less balanced, and this can result in him falling to the outside (his right hand side) when schooling – so when canter is asked for he picks up the wrong lead.

A technique that I read about on the internet (and that was also recommended to me by his owner) is to first flex his head to the outside, and then flex it to the inside again and ask for canter – this prevents him from falling to the right and so he then picks up the correct lead.

The photos below show me turning his head out slightly (just so that I can see his eye) whilst he continues to move forwards, and then flexing him back in and asking for canter.

Left canter

Leg yielding from the three quarter line to the right before asking for the canter can also help with this problem because it causes the horse to engage his hind end so that stepping underneath with his inside back leg during the transition is much easier. As our leg yielding still needs a bit of work, I am yet to try this with Dusty!

Leg yielding

The video below shows a couple of short clips from our schooling session to demonstrate the technique in action.


Basic agility practice and tricks with Rusty

For the past couple of weeks I haven’t had a huge amount of time to spend doing anything new with Rusty, so we have been just been doing a little bit of jumping and generally messing around in the garden together.

Jumps 1


We revisited the ‘rear cross’, where I swap the side from which I am handling her during a sequence. For this to be successful she must be able to work at a considerable distance from me and be able to drive ahead to the next jump. With jumping Rusty is very confident and will happily do this – however I need to work more with other obstacles such as the tunnel too as I feel that she would be less sure of herself with these.

Once Rusty has committed to the next jump I can simply run behind her and pick her up again on the other side of me.

Jumps 2

I also set up a simple arrangement of jumps through which we could practice our 180 degree turns. I even cheekily snuck a 270 degree turn in there as well – as can be seen in the video at the end of this post, this confused her slightly to start with (and I think my handling skills here were not quite up to scratch) but we went round to try again and she performed it perfectly!


As a break from all of the running around and jumping, I taught Rusty a few little tricks – this was initially intended to keep her interested (border terriers’ brains do need to be kept busy) although she is so familiar with them now that I really ought to find some new ones…