saw di;erent things and could not
As it turns out, horses have
more cross-brain eye connections
than people have. Rather than
attributing the challenges of
using the nondominant side to
an incomplete connection in the
horse’s brain, it is more accurate
to describe it as the feeling you
experience when trying to write
with your nondominant hand.
Myth 2: Horses must be drilled
repeatedly on the nondominant
side to make them more balanced.
Fact: Horses that are struggling
for balance going the di;cult
direction will equate di;cult
with worrisome; if we continually
overtrain, we strengthen the
existing patterns and fatigue the
di;cult side. This can activate the
survival area of the brain, which
results in a deepening cycle where
learning new things becomes
more and more di;cult. The
myth was that repetition would
make the challenging side easier,
but it actually reinforces and
strengthens incorrect movement.
Myth 3: Horses avoid working
on one side because they’re lazy,
evasive or stubborn.
Fact: Working on the
nondominant side is
uncomfortable at the very least,
and it can even be frightening to
a deeply unbalanced horse. The
horse’s goal is to keep his feet
underneath him, so being forced to
move on the unbalanced side can
result in acts of self-preservation
to avoid injury from falling.
To help bring the horse into
balance, begin by working on the
ground. “In general, if your horse
has di;culty doing stretches or
simple movements equally on both
sides while you’re working on the
ground, he certainly won’t be able
to maintain balance when you’re
on his back,” says Murdoch.
Many horses pick up
one canter lead easily
but struggle to get the
correct lead on their
COMMON CAUSES OF
In addition to natural tendencies of sidedness in horses, here are four
Lameness: Loss of suspension is often the first sign of imbalance
caused by lameness, as the horse stops pushing as strongly with the
affected limb to avoid the higher impact needed for a springier stride.
Saddle fit: If a horse moves correctly on a straight line but begins
falling in or out on circles, he may be moving away from pain created
by the saddle putting pressure on one side of his back.
Rider influences: Human sidedness and imbalance issues can cause
horses to move differently (read: asymmetrically) to stay balanced
underneath the rider. If the horse moves better with a different rider,
that’s an obvious indication that the imbalance is human-caused.
Training approaches: If a horse is schooled predominantly on
one side because of discipline-specific requirements, such as race
horses traveling one direction on the track, the horse can develop