How to cue for a flying lead change? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 07-21-2013, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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How to cue for a flying lead change?

Hey everyone, first I'll talk y'all my riding experience.

I've been riding (hacking/pasture riding) since I was about 9.. But only a walk/trot.

Last summer I started taking barrel lessons, which was the first time I loped. We do lots of circles and patterns and I feel very confident. When we do figure eights though I struggle to get a lead change in the center.

For example, if we are riding on a circle to the right, she usually won't switch to the left lead until about 3 strides of going on the left circle. Last year I didn't have this issue because the horse I rode automatically changed leads.

How can I cue her to change leads, without transitioning to a trot, in the center? My trainer tried to explain, but maybe a different point if view will help me understand more.

I also know this mare can do a flying lead change, she does poles. I ride western just in case no one noticed.
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post #2 of 5 Old 07-21-2013, 01:03 PM
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First off - quit changing in centre. If the horse knows her leads then you should be able to change leads anywhere. I like to change leads whenever and wherever. Do you counter canter at all? A good way to getting a horse to want to change leads is to counter canter and then ask, again wherever, not just at centre. Also start with the littlest cue, shift your weight to the outside and cue with your outside leg.

Don't forget that lead changing is the one thing we don't have to 'teach' horses - they do it naturally - we just have to make it easy for them while we are riding by shifting balance and not making a big deal about it. I've seen people stab ther horses with a spur across centre to get a lead change and all they end up with is a bracing horse who panics through centre and can't change or won't change because its become a big deal.

Try changing leads on the long side of the arena, forget centre. Infact try coming through centre without changing and going into the counter canter for a circle and then continue down the long side and then ask by shifting your seat bones and cueing gently with your outside leg.

Be sure you can move her body willingly off your legs first, ie. hip, shoulder over. Also I don't recommend breaking to a trot to change - and be sure she's soft and relaxed when you ask - don't let her anticipate it:)

Good luck:)
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Last edited by Muppetgirl; 07-21-2013 at 01:07 PM.
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post #3 of 5 Old 07-23-2013, 01:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you! :) anyone else have advice?
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-23-2013, 02:10 AM
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I agree with muppet, you have to teach the horse and get excellent handle on them for a lead change. I would be counter cantering a lot if I were you, and doing some prep work before you ask for the change. Prep work being breaking to the walk (NOT the trot, very important detail) and emphasizing pushing the hip and picking up the other lead. The hip is key here. Really swing it out there.

This horse does know how to change leads, correct? As in he's been taught before...?

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #5 of 5 Old 07-23-2013, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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I don't think I explained very well! This mare knows how to change leads. She has a perfect handle, sidepasses, counter canters, rollbacks. It's me who doesn't understand how to cue for the lead change. The horse I rode last year would change automatically without a cue. Once I changed hands (neck reining) and started on the turn he changed.
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