Friday, October 29, 2010

Reader Question - Are there Two Sides to a Horse?

I received a question from Bill in North Carolina concerning his horse being better on one side than the other. Bill said his horse seems to be better and calmer on things approaching him or objects that he approaches on his left side than the right. Bill wanted to know if this was common and what to do about it.

Yes Bill, this is common, barring an eye injury or some physiological reason why your horse would have a hard time seeing out of the right eye. Best to get a Vet to look at your horse to confirm or deny a problem with the eye.

Much like the concept that people are either right brained or left brained, some horse trainers think that horses think differently on what they see either out of their right or left eye. While I don't think that's necessarily true or un-true, I do know that what you train your horse on on one side you need to do the other. I'll leave it to the experts to determine this right brain, left brain thing and how it applies to horse behavior and training.

You want your horse to be equally comfortable on either side. Approaching obstacles, like the one your horse spooks at; mounting either on the left side or the off side; and all other things you do with him.

I think it just makes sense to sack your horse out on both sides. Someone asked me once why I saddle, mount and dismount from different sides as opposed to doing it all on the left side. I said I just wanted my horse to be used to me doing things on both sides. Besides, what if you were on a steep trail with a drop off on your left and had to dismount for some reason? You wouldn't want to do it for the first time on that trail.

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