Stop Switching Leads!

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Stop Switching Leads!

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  • 1 Post By tlkng1

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    10-08-2013, 05:36 PM
Green Broke
Stop Switching Leads!

My BO has a 7 year old thoroughbred mare that does this constantly. You feel like a passenger while the horse performs an advanced dressage maneuver. Some history:

Bred and raised by the BO out of her favorite mare. This one was a handful from day one, and was slow to mature mentally. She is a lead mare and a bit of a Diva, she wont work if she doesn't like you. She scared her experienced trainer as a 3 year old when she went for training, and the trainer at the track when she went up that fall. Mentally couldn't deal with it. BO brought her home and spent the winter SLOWLY getting her used to the saddle, bridle and rider. Then She went to the track at 4, and blew everyone away during work outs, but came in last whenever she actually raced, either because she was having a bad day or she didn't like her jockey. So she came home and became a trail horse. This mare is full of attitude, very picky and excessively powerful. She is thickly built for a thoroughbred, and has one heck of a motor. She feels like riding a tightly coiled spring, all the time. Needless to say, she is not an easy ride. Fun, but difficult. Now, to the question at hand:

She is just trained basically, w/t/c/gallop, turn, stop, back. Her latest thing she has developed is switching leads. You get her into a canter in a fairly strait line, and she wants to go faster, but knows she can't. She's not pulling, just cantering along in hand. Then(within a minute), out of boredom or frustration, she starts switching leads. Usually every 2-5 strides, depending on the day. You'll be cantering along a field and all of a sudden its like stride-stride-RIGHT LEAD-stride-stride-LEFT LEAD- stride-stride-RIGHT LEAD, until you change gaits or directions. Logically this is not particularly desirable or comfortable. How do you make a horse STAY on a lead??

She's not mine, but just for my own information I was curious. You hear a lot of people asking how to get a horse to switch leads, but I've never come across the opposite until now. I've ridden a lot of miles, and on long straight stretches a horse will switch leads as they get tired, but this horse is just doing it for fun.
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    10-08-2013, 06:59 PM
Is it a complete swap or hind/front only?

The general issue is that the horse is unbalanced and the horse needs to be maintained in a proper bend..head slightly to the inside...use the outside leg to keep the hindquarters from swinging out.

In a straight line, check the rider. If the horse is that sensitive, and that talented even without training to swap leads, the rider may be unintentionally and unknowingly shifting their weight from one side to the other.

If it is an issue of attitude because she is not being allowed to run when SHE wants to run, afraid I am at a loss there. Maybe switch up the some crooked bending lines, serpentines, leg yields..something to get her attention piqued.

My horse gets bored...on those days I add in some higher level dressage movements to get him interested again and it works. He perks up, listens better, becomes lighter in my hand and for lack of a better term, is excited to work. Of course he also likes showing off so that could have something to do with it :)
    10-08-2013, 07:07 PM
Green Broke
Complete swap. Think Olympic dressage performance, when the horse switches leads every few strides and appears to be 'skipping'. She does it with both the BO and me, and I guarantee I wasn't inadvertently cuing, I was just sitting her canter.
    10-08-2013, 07:12 PM
Super Moderator
What Tlking said. The big grey horse I rode for my boss would change leads at just the slightest shift of weight he was so responsive - everything he did was like that which made him a real challenge for the man who eventually bought him because he had to learn to ride a lot more quietly than he ever had before
On the other hand Looby, since she learnt the basics of sidepass and half pass will suddenly take over and go across the menage doing it with no cues at all - I think because I made such a big deal of telling her she was a good girl when she first started doing lateral work. Its a real pain
    10-08-2013, 07:34 PM
:)...those lead swaps every few strides or even every other stride or each stride are referred to as tempi changes.

As jaydee pointed out, you don't necessarily have to cue for the swap..any type of weight shift may be enough and again, you may not even realize you are doing it. If she is actually travelling 100% straight, which few horses actually do, and she does even the slightest bend in the neck to either direction, she could also swap.

I think it is going to simply be a matter of consistency and reminding her every few strides to remain on the lead you set just as if you were trying to keep a horse at a consistent gait. For example, my horse will give extremely short and subtle notice he is going to break into the trot from the canter..mostly on left lead. Where before I couldn't get more than three or four strides before he broke, I am now at about an average 45 or so strides..and yes I count :) before I ASK him to come down. Essentially I have to just give him a light calf squeeze with the outside leg about every 5-6 strides just to let him know that yes, I want you to keep going. Eventually I have to get him to the point where once we are in the gait he stays there period unless I ask for a change, but he is getting better. Part of it was just learning his buttons and since I am still figuring them out, we aren't quite in complete tune as yet.
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    10-08-2013, 08:00 PM
Green Broke
When I first got my QH as a 5 year old (I was 15 and not too experienced myself) he would throw beautiful lead changes left and right. I had to work on maintaining proper bend, and holding him in so that he wouldn't throw his shoulder out.

It did fix the problem- for better or worse. Neither me nor the horse progressed to the point of doing lead changes in our training, and I haven't been able to get it from him since then. I'm torn between saying he wasn't ready for them and so training them shouldn't have been attempted, and wishing that we had harnessed that power when he was so willingly throwing it at us
    10-08-2013, 11:32 PM
My gelding was doing tempi changes tonight. Just for fun. We were cantering around a neighbor's track when he started. One, two, or three strides. I finally tired of it and dropped my right seat bone as he lifted his right hind leg and he woke up and stayed in his left lead.

But on the uncoordinated or unbalanced horse, I've have to do as tlkng1 described and cue when I could "feel" the horse shifting. I had to do that until they became comfortable on both leads.

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