How to Get a OTTB to Pick Up the Right Lead

Picking up the right lead on your horse
  • User AvatarGeoff Teall
  • 21 Jul, 2015
  • 2 Mins Read

How to Get a OTTB to Pick Up the Right Lead

Submitted by member: Angela

Any suggestion on how to get my OTTB to pick up his right lead? He is 7 years old and had raced for a year and a half. I’ve owned him for 2 years and with time off and rehab we are now starting a consistent training program.  Thank you so much.

Answer by Geoff

I think that the most important piece to the answer here is patience. It will take some time to teach your TB about his right lead, but it certainly can be done. I think the best way to introduce this would be with the use of circles. I would start with circles to the left (the good lead) to get your horse comfortable with the circle itself. From there I would progress to the circles to the right.

If you are clever you can arrange your circle and your timing so that you are asking for your horse to pick up the right lead when home is forward and to the right. Once you get the correct lead going on the circle you could progress to picking up the right lead in corners. Again, I would try to arrange things so that when you are asking for the right lead it would involve going forward and right towards home. From there I would probably progress to figure eights of all sizes and as many different simple changes as you can dream up. Hope this helps and good luck.

FREE Video Tip

This is an excerpt from “The Fundamentals of Flatwork: Basic” which is part of Bernie Traurig’s American Hunter Jumper Forward Riding System. In this chapter Bernie goes over how to ask a green or young horse to pick up the canter.

The Fundamentals of Flatwork: Basic” is the first of a 3 part series outlining a simple, progressive method of flatwork for all jumping disciplines. “Basic” focuses on the training of a young or inexperienced horse with the aim to achieve obedience to light rein and leg aids, and assumes the rider is familiar with the proper techniques of riding and jumping. But you do not have to be a highly experienced or seasoned rider because Bernie’s strategies are clear, straight-forward, classic and timeless. The Basic level highlights his favorite exercises that can be incorporated into anyone’s training program.

Click here to view the full length version of “The Fundamentals of Flatwork: Basic” on

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  1. When I start one off the track, I canter tracking right more than left in the beginning to encourage them to relax and learn to canter rather than gallop. If I have trouble with one lead more than the other I begin on the easier lead and ask for a flying change to the more difficult lead to prevent anxiety over picking up the more difficult lead.

    1. Geoff,

      Thanks so much for your reply. I’m pleased to say we have had much improvement. I have found that as well as asking for the right lead canter depart facing towards home, asking for it just as we go over a ground pole or a low cavaletti has helped him to engage his hind end and he will willing pick up the right lead. Also watching videos here has taught me to open my right rein, looking to the right as we come over the pole has helped him as well. This website is genius! I’ve have learned so much in such a little time. I’ve been ridding for over 35 years and have never felt so connected with a horse. Thank-you! – Angela

  2. I am working with an OTTB newly off the track. She has had several months to unwind and we are working on walking to the right, which has her very confused. How do I get her to push her right shoulder in to eventually round up on the bit? She literally goes sideways, blocking her right shoulder out. Thanks!

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