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Training Tip: Picking Up the Correct Lead From a Standstill

As you and your horse work on leads and learn to communicate better, you can increase the challenge of picking up the correct lead by asking the horse to do so from the standstill. Asking a horse to pick up the correct lead and canter collected from the standstill requires precise cues on your part and a solid foundation of training on the horse’s part. Before attempting to ask the horse to canter from the standstill, he should be able to do so from the trot and the walk first.

1) Ask the horse to soften vertically at the standstill. As soon as you pick up on the reins, he should instantly soften his face and create slack in the reins. If your horse doesn’t, you need to work on your foundation before focusing on leads.

2) To help the horse pick up the correct lead, push his inside hip up and tip his nose to the inside. If you’re asking the horse to pick up the left lead, like I’m doing here, you’d push his left hip up and tip his head to the left. Shaping the horse’s body in this manner makes it nearly impossible for him to not take the correct lead.

3) When you’re ready, ask the horse to canter by pressing the middle of his ribcage with your outside leg. In this example, I cue Diez with my right leg. Ideally, the horse should immediately canter, picking up the correct lead while staying soft in your hands.

Get step-by-step directions on how to teach a horse to do collected lead departures in the Advanced Series.