Your Left Handed Horse 

We all know some folks who find themselves living in a mirror image world, a world made for right handed folk! They are sentenced by their genetics to be called “southpaws”or left-handed. In our family we find the left-handed are often the more inventive and problem-solving and creative! Contrary to humans, among the equine race it appears that the opposite is true, and the majority of horses are left side dominant. They just seem to come from the factory that way! They bend easier to the left and they naturally take their left lead at the canter. There are many theories as to why this is, but as horseman we are much more concerned with what to do about it in order to balance our horses and make them straighter and “both sided.” Since it appears that their legs on the right side are slightly weaker than the left, horses often will drift to the right when moving. This frustrates Mr. Horse Trainer, so he figures out a set of calisthenics to build up his horse’s right legs. He spends longer asking his horse to bend to the right with a soft rein cue. Little by little, day by day, so as not to make his steed’s muscles sore, he gets equal bend to both sides. Before the horse even starts get sore, he quits. No one ever convinced a horse of the “no pain, no gain” concept. With horses it’s “if there’s pain I’m not doing it again!” Additionally our horse trainer’s “seat bones” and legs need to get into the act and apply light pressure at the same time as the right rein bending happens. Over time and with patience and judgment and careful, but insistent, application of hand, seat and leg, we can usually get our left-handed horse to bend nearly the same on both sides. Mainly, as my friend Ramon says “We don’t work with them, we just play with them!”

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