horse won't turn to the right?

hi y’all! so, i’ve been leasing a barn friend’s horse for a few months now (since february) and the entire time i’ve had trouble turning him to the right if there’s some kind of gate or place for him to stop on his left. he doesn’t do this if these gates/etc. are on his right. i’ve also noticed that in our sand arena (there is no gate to this one, just an opening), if i have him on a clockwise circle in anything faster than a walk or jog, he will fight as hard as he can to turn and go counter clockwise instead. he doesn’t even try to dart out the opening like i originally thought, just… offers to go the other direction. if you try to pull his nose in to the right while he does this, he yanks the reins from your hands, throws his head, and will stop and turn around anyway. it’s not as much as an issue in our clay arena, but i’m still concerned at this behavior, as my hands are all torn up from him yanking the reins from me. no amount of pulling, squeezing, cropping, etc. is able to get him to do that dang turn if he doesn’t want to do it. i’m just wondering if any of you have any solutions or thoughts on why he does this? i don’t have an instructor (been asking for one for quite a while, but i am young and my parents won’t get me one), so my friend helps me as best she can. we were thinking that he might have issues with that right shoulder, but i’m not sure if that’s right either, since he used to completely refuse to pick up his left lead and would purposely pick up his right (we managed to fix that, though) no matter what you did. i’m thinking of saving by myself for a massage session or a chiro session or something to see if that helps:) sorry this is a bit long, i tried to explain the situation as best i can lol.

My first thought is that going to the left is usually the “second way of the ring” for show horses and some schoolies and he is thinking that it is time to quit when he gets near the gate going in that direction. Then again, he could be sore somewhere going in that direction(like the shoulder) either teeth or bodywise or it is just a communication error. Sounds like a vet check and a couple of lesson might be in order. I would put the money you are saving for chiro/massage towards having a vet look him over. Including having his teeth checked. Dental problems can cause steering issues. I have a mini who would not steer to the left well when I first got him, fixed his teeth which were in very bad shape and he improved a lot.

First, how well does he longe in both directions? Try that first and observe.

Second, how does he move at liberty? Does he canter in field or round pen? Does he pick up both leads? Does he go in both directions?

If he moves fine without a rider, the problem is likely rider or saddle fit.

If he does not move fine without a rider, then honestly your friend needs to get a vet out for a comprehensive lameness workup. Massage or chiro won’t diagnose and probably won’t help that much.

If he moves fine without a rider the first thing I would check would be saddle fit. It’s possible the saddle tree is warped or broken, or the horse is asymmetric so the saddle really hurts going one direction.

I would also stop riding the horse until this is resolved. This ride is hurting the horse, hurting you, and teaching both of you bad habits.

Also do you have access to an intelligent adult trainer who can do some problem solving? The scenario as described sounds like teens in a back yard. Nothing inherently wrong with that, its how I learned to ride! But in retrospect having access to some smart adult help back then would have been very useful. There was none, the adults back then were scary and ignorant!

OK just saw that you are indeed a kid and don’t have an instructor.

You or your friend need an instructor. Can you trade barn work for lessons?

Also yes, as above post says, get his teeth looked at. And his feet. I am guessing his feet are not great.

How does he go for his owner?

How experienced a ridet are you? If you are a total beginner your balance may be off to one direction.

his teeth are in pretty bad shape so i was thinking about that, and i’ll ask his owner if they can get a vet out or if i could do it myself :slight_smile:

last horse I had that wouldn’t turn had foot issues. The vet is absolutely needed here, and save money in the long run.

he lunges pretty nicely in both directions, although he usually prefers his right (which is his issue undersaddle, which is strange to me.) on his own, he sometimes will pick up the wrong lead, but other than that he normally moves fine and will go both directions fine.

i do believe the western saddle i use is warped in some way and is falling apart (i’m pretty sure it’s super old), so i’ll make sure to stop using that. in our clay arena he’ll lope perfect circles to the right with just neck reining as long as we’re on the side opposite from the gate or the little pavilion we have.

i was advised to go back to basics with him and maybe retrain him or something, so i’ll focus on groundwork for a while and see how that does us and only ride every once and a while in the clay arena; most likely bareback too.

i don’t currently have access to a trainer, but i’m hoping to get one soon. the local trainer we have doesn’t trade barn work for lessons sadly, and the one that did is moving away :confused: i’ll be working as best i can with my parents to see if they’ll get me anything though.

his feet are alright i think; our new farrier is very good with him and sticks to the schedule very well. he had them done pretty recently i believe, but i’ll make sure to talk to him next time he’s out and see if he can find anything wrong.

he doesn’t go any better with his owner; she’s a wee bit younger than me and although more experienced with him, she lets him get away with a lot and he got some bad habits from her (harmless and easy to work through though.)

i am a beginner, though not a complete dead one; i got lucky enough to start leasing him once i got back into horses and i’ve been consistently learning/riding the few months i’ve had him. i will admit my balance isn’t the best when i start to get frustrated with him, but i am normally fairly centered.

my biggest question is that he only naps this badly in our sand arena; in our clay arena he circles both ways almost solely off of leg/seat or a faint neck rein. he does it with his better fitting saddle (his english one) just as bad and i’ll see if he does it bareback next time i see him (i only have a partial lease sadly.) i will, however, do what i can to get him dental work and such, since his teeth are in pretty bad shape & i have no idea when he was actually checked over last.

I had a horse that could not turn right - after all the usual checks like saddle fit, etc, it turned out he needed a chiropractic adjustment. He went on to be one of those perfect kid horses ever and took the judges eye every time. He had been given up on.

Oh dear, this is a perfect storm.

A beginner kid borrowing a problem horse from an even more clueless kid, no intelligent adult help, parents unable or unwilling to fund anything, bad saddle, no vet or dental care.

Are both sets of parents dead broke? In which case you are stuck unless you are old enough to go get a job on the weekend to earn some cash. Probably a good idea even if parents are just stingy, not broke.

But I have to wonder where the parents of the horse owner are. They are paying for boarding obviously but not for vet, dental, or a decent saddle? Is this because they can’t pay, they don’t want to pay, or is every just such ignorant newbie greenhorns that they have no idea what is required beyond feed and water?

If you are needing to ride for free, and this is your only option, I understand why you are doing this. But honestly it is a situation with so many red flags and potential for disappointment and even injury.

If you are riding a horse where the owners themselves are unable to provide baseline dental, vet, and tack, you don’t necessarily want to be dumping your own cash into partial solutions. And my guess is that given everything else you have said, the horse likely has problem feet as well.

I think the solution has to lie with the parents of the horse owner. What do they think about their own kid riding a horse she can’t control, that is showing behavior problems likely related to teeth, feet, or saddle fit?

As far as clay versus sand, is that the only difference? Is one indoor, one outdoor? One nearer the barn? Etc.

The general rule of thumb is that hoof problems show up on hard surfaces while soft tissue problems show up on softer surfaces.

Which arena has the softer deeper footing?

completely off the topic but I worked a one barn where one of the schooling horses was well versed in the job…half hour lesson was it. Full stop. If the rider was to have an hour…they had to get off and remount otherwise Pete was not going to move

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Find some experienced horse people who you think (or others think) know what they’re doing, and ask them for their opinions. Sometimes, when experienced owners/riders/trainers can tell that you’re trying but just can’t afford lessons they’ll help you out for free. They won’t always give you formal lessons because of liability issues, but will sometimes take a look at what’s going on and help you problem solve.

Another option is to get a short video of the behavior and post it here to get opinions. Just make sure you can take any criticism, because there often is some, or at least some of it may come across as rude depending upon how you read it.

I may be wrong but I keep thinking of bridges.