I wonder if this horse has an old injury. After
an accident, there could be a coordination or
conditioning issue affecting one side for some time. I’d
want to see the horse’s movement in the pasture: will
he move on both leads without a rider present? That
can tell you what the horse’s preferred lead is, and if he
does pick up the right lead, it would be interesting to
see if he keeps the right lead on his own.
This could also be a training issue. Team-roping
horses always come out of the box on the left
lead because they will eventually turn to the left.
Racehorses may only pick up the left lead, since they
race to the left in the U.S. I find that many horses also
prefer the left lead naturally. So if a horse is trained
that the right lead is wrong, or if a horse has never been
trained to pick up a specific lead, he may just pick the
lead he wants. Horses that were trained for the trail
often aren’t taught to pick up specific leads—they just
canter on their favorite lead. If the horse has never
been conditioned to work on the right lead, it may take
some effort to help the horse develop strength and
balance in that gait.
All things considered, this could be either a physical
or training issue. You have to rule out pain first. Have
the horse evaluated by an equine chiropractor who is
also a veterinarian. I have seen horses that have a rib
out or spinal misalignment not want to canter or just
If the horse doesn’t appear lame on one leg, but
isn’t moving how he should, a few treatments may
help. Starting with this step would rule out the pain.
If it still happens after chiropractic treatment and
conditioning, it’s time to go back to basic obedience. If
you have asked the horse to canter, he should stay in
that gait until you give a different cue.
Why do some horses feel threatened when
it comes to their food and behave in an
aggressive way at meal times? What can I do to
prevent food-time aggression and stay safe at
— Chloe Martin
A horse’s aggression at feed time may be as major as
pinning his ears, baring his teeth and charging you, or