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