We have achieved canter! And my horse is wired backwards. Apparently, in his world, you ask for the canter with the inside leg. Outside leg to inside rein results in a counter-canter. I assumed the first time that he was just off-balance so we stopped and tried again. Same result. Then I remembered the one person on Chronicle Forums who had replied to a thread about cues by saying they had always learned to use the inside leg to ask for the canter. Pretty much everyone had replied with “You crazy, lady” but I decided what the heck, try crazy, and asked in complete reverse of how I’ve always been taught to ask. And what do you know, left-lead canter!

And since my parents came to visit this weekend, there are even pictures with me in them:

Lucky drifts left, but he does pick up his feet.

Lucky’s masseuse was also out this morning, riding with the BO. (Yes, Lucky has a masseuse. She just finished studying equine massage and Lucky was her graduation project.) She got a few pictures of Lucky going under saddle for her portfolio. Yet another person thoroughly impressed with Lucky’s ground manners. I said he probably figured the massage was the first time since he got here that he was receiving the treatment to which he is entitled. The BO laughed and said he definitely acted like that sometimes!

My parents were also impressed. They obviously knew my old OTTB and have been watching me ride for a while. First, they absolutely think Lucky’s taller than Benny (who was 15.2.) Lucky isn’t HEAVY, so I don’t think of him as big. The absolutely love his mind, and are thoroughly impressed with his behavior and indifference to things like the gunshot across the road. (No, no idea what that was about. Next door sometimes target shoots, but this was one shot and across the street.) They definitely think that for a sight-unseen, taken on word of mouth from three-states-away horse for $600 I absolutely got a bargain.

Did I mention it was pushing eighty degrees today?

Lucky got a sponge bath after riding. He actually did sweat up, mostly from his coat still being thick, and he appreciated the hosing. He didn’t even mind having his ears and face done, something that annoyed my old OTTB to no end. I’m sure that he was counting the seconds until I put him back out so he could find a good patch of dirt to roll in, but he enjoyed the hosing down.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Louise
    Apr 03, 2010 @ 07:18:47

    Canter off of the inside leg, with a steadying outside leg at the girth, is a dressage thing (that I never learned to master.) Supposedly, it gives you a smoother depart. It would be interesting to find out just how Lucky was started, but, I guess we’ll never know.

    I’m glad that your folks liked him. They took some great pictures. It was nice seeing you and Lucky working together. Lovely place that you board at, by the way.


    • luckytocope
      Apr 03, 2010 @ 14:02:08

      It’s really nice, worth the extra drive (and it’s not as bad as my brother–he’s going an hour one-way out of Westcester for lessons.) The ring is on something of an incline, but it’s sandy and well-drained.

      I’ve always been taught, outside leg behind the girth, don’t move the inside leg, for a normal canter. I know Lucky was sent on trial to a dressage barn for a weekend (Jared said they sent him back because he didn’t swap leads behind, to which I say two days? Sheesh, buy a made horse if you want that, people.) I can’t imagine he picked it up THAT fast. As long as he gets the lead, one way or another–and really, in the hunt field, whichever he feels more balanced on is fine! I think he’d prefer just to walk if given the option, anyway.


      • Louise
        Apr 03, 2010 @ 15:55:11

        Nah, and the inside leg thing (really shifting the inside seatbone) isn’t something every dressager does, either. Most of us use the outside leg. Though, if you think about it, when you use the outside leg, you automatically end up shifting your inside seatbone. I bet it all goes along with the not looking like you’re riding the horse, when you’re riding the horse. Sigh, I couldn’t do it, and I tried and tried. That inside seatbone just wouldn’t shift the right way, that sucker!

  2. Natalie Keller Reinert
    Apr 05, 2010 @ 23:01:19

    Ahhhh the blog post I meant to write and never did…

    Yeah a lot of OTTBs canter off inside rein/inside leg. Especially to the left. I get mixed up when I try to work out the dynamics and physical reasons, which I think is why I never wrote the post…


  3. Meghan Coleman
    Apr 08, 2010 @ 07:25:13

    Wonderful blog! (Met up with you on Chron Horse forum, as Pallas.) You show a great blend of experience, humor, patience and fatalism, also, a love of listening to your horse. Lucky is as Lucky has.

    It seems to me that some horses suffer from two kinds of ADD (though we do the suffering): the traditional kind, and also, the funny kind that asserts, again and again, “I am (insert name here) and Attention must be paid!” Yes, I see my OOTB Zion react to bathing and massaging and even just a lot of conversation around him, with an somewhat entitled equanimity that seems to imply, “The world is now back on its axis.”

    Thank you for the tip about pressing him on the inside and not the outside leg: I’ll give that a try. Today is my first time riding Zion since before I bought him a month ago. Wish me luck!


    • luckytocope
      Apr 08, 2010 @ 09:26:37

      Good luck! 😀 I don’t remember who on COTH said that–it was in a H/J forum post, I think, and almost everyone thought she was nuts, but Lucky seemed SO convinced that ‘right leg means right lead’ I figured I would try it. Louise below seems to have run across dressage people who teach the same way, while Natalie has had MOST OTTBs do that. There must be a logical reason somewhere. My old one was Lucky’s opposite–unless you MADE him, he was not picking up that right lead for love or money, while Lucky seems to regard the left lead as the spare.

      Have fun with Zion! How long has been retired? Did you buy him from the track or is he a CANTER/rehomed horse?


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