Knowing what Lead you're on at the canter - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Question Knowing what Lead you're on at the canter

Alright, so I've been riding for 7 years now, and 5 of those years have been on the same horse - my horse who was a rescue and green broke when I got her. We are just starting to teach her flying lead changes, and it's been a bit of a challenge. This mare can counter canter all day long, I swear...and it's very difficult to tell whether she is on the wrong lead until you get into a corner - then it's pretty obvious of course. But the problem is - we want to ask her for the lead change BEFORE the corner, so my trainer's new task for me in between lessons is for me to ask her for the canter on a straight line, and then FEEL which lead she is on without looking.

Well, this has unfortunately been a harder task for me than I had thought it would be. I can tell which lead she's on by looking, but by FEELING alone, I get it wrong half the time! When we are on a straight line, I truly cannot feel the difference - only when we go around a corner can I feel whether it's right or wrong! SO, anyone else have issues like this, and what can I do to get better with it? It's really frustrating, and I feel like I must be missing something here that would make this exercise much easier!

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post #2 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 12:50 PM
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My trainer always told me, "You can't teach feel."

The only way I can describe it is a forward motion in your leg and hip - It's very slight, but say you're on the right lead. Your right hip and right leg will be slightly more forward. Same with the left lead.

I'm terrible at describing, especially with leads....lol
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Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #3 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 01:02 PM
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Subbing! My mare's canter is so smooth, even on the wrong lead, so I'd like to learn this as well

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post #4 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 01:19 PM
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Sorrelhorse described it well. You can feel your inside hip tip forward just slightly. It takes some practice to feel, for sure.
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post #5 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all, I'm going to try again tonight and really picture where my hips are!
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 01:23 PM
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I agree with the above. Although I do have to add that on some horses it is incredibly difficult (i.e. Smooth or rough). My mare is so rough that even people more experienced then me have to look because she doesn't have a smooth leg. On her when I feel it I focus on my seat; when the leg comes out it will shift your weight a minuet amount and I feel the cocking and can say what lead I'm on. For example if they take the right leg it will push you slightly to the left and vice versa. You shouldn't be out of position but it's kinda like a subtle push. :)
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post #7 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah I don't know that I would call my mare smooth lol but she doesn't have an up and down motion, she moves pretty flat feeling even when she is well balanced and moving off her hind (maybe it's just her short little legs - she is only 14.2 hands), so it's really hard for me to tell!
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post #8 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 01:56 PM
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If on a left lead, you right hip will seem to drop and the left hip seems to move forward, yet it doesn't drop, if you are relaxed. Actually your body will turn slightly to the right.
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post #9 of 12 Old 09-16-2013, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Well good news - I paid attention to my hips tonight and it worked!! Got it right every time! Found that if I let myself be in a half seat her motion would rock whatever hip was sitting atop the inside leg more to that side! So excited I finally got the feel of it :)
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-17-2013, 12:49 AM
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You can teach feel to a certain extent.

It's all down to your proprioception. If you are constantly relying on your eyes to relay information to your brain (ie, looking at your diagonals, looking where your horse is flexing, etc) - then your ability to feel won't be as heightened. Sort of like a sighted person putting on a blind fold. You can do things super easy with your eyes open, but take away your vision and try to do things by feel and you will struggle until your proprioception improves.

My instructor has a cheap pair of sunglasses that she makes all her students wear. She has taped over the bottom 1/2 of the lenses so you cannot look down at your horse. I can tell you honestly that your riding may go to hell in a hand basket for a while until your ability to feel what your horse is doing kicks in but my goodness once it does, you can feel the slightest change in your horses posture.

OP, try that... sounds nuts, but I swear it works really well. It will be super frustrating and hard. You will have to really concentrate but it will help your feel to develop.

Good luck.
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Last edited by NaeNae87; 09-17-2013 at 12:53 AM.
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