Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Helping horse move to the left


I was recommended in using this forum to ask for your advice about my mare Tilly. It's a long story I'm afraid, so here goes!

I got Tilly on loan at the end of March from a lady in Kent. Tilly is a 14.3hh 4 1/2 yo Mare. Before, the owner basically picked her up from the side of the road from Travellers. At this time Tilly was only 18mths old. She was broken to ride and drive - had shoes on - the works. She looked like a hat rack. The owner turned her out until Sept 2003 - then re-broke her in, and hacked her out over the winter a couple of times a week. I then took her on in March, about 3-4 weeks into riding her she started to shake her head - gradually getting worse - rubbing her nose on knee etc - then progressed to half rearing every time I asked her to go forward. I tried lunging her (which she had never done before?!?!) she went fine on the right rein - but as soon as we were on the left - she'd stop and dig her heels in. My initial thought was temper in being worked, and then I thought of allergy. Now I wonder if it is some sort of Psychological problem to do with the past.

Any help in re-starting her training would be gratefully received or any advice you could give me would also be received with thanks.

Thanks for reading, I really want to help this mare and keep her as she gets on so well with my sisters horse and my two Section A babies!

With thanks Laura

HI Laura,

First thing is to rule out anything organic (physical). Pain is the first thing to look for when a horse shows resistance to complying with a human. Consider having a vet and equine chiropractor look Tilly over before doing much else. Also, make certain saddle fit is right on and exact. If you can rule out anything physical, I would practice asking Tilly to bend to the left and flex to the left on a short line (lead rope). Do some on the right side as well so as not to do too much on that left side and in that direction (always break up what you do with a horse to keep it interesting).

The way a horse's brain works, they learn things separately on either side of their brain. If a horse is trained on the left for something, it has to be retrained on the right for the same thing. That could be part of the problem here, because of some gap in her training. Don't even consider stubborn, temper or anything like that. The horse is afraid to move to the left pure and simple. It does not know it can do that safely (or without pain, which causes fear as well). Horses are not stubborn, bad or any of the negative human traits we look to project on them. If you see what looks like stubborn or resistance it is the horse asking for help. It is fear! They are fearful from any number of causes. They are also naturally lazy for their own self-preservation. In the wild if they run too far, too fast they are picked off by a predator. So they only move as much as is needed (run a relatively short distance and then investigate what the danger was).

Anyway, try what I have suggested and let me know how it all goes. Keep 'bending' the horse to her weak side a lot in tight, little circles having the horse yield its hindquarters and then ask her to walk a bigger circle to the left. Keep her close to you for a time, and move her in both directions and gradually let the rope get longer. She may move easier with the rope fairly short initially.

Please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: