Can someone explain lead changes to me?
   

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Can someone explain lead changes to me?

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  • How to change leads in a canter
  • Explain horse leads

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  • 2 Post By Kayty
  • 1 Post By Kayty

 
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    04-30-2012, 07:29 PM
  #1
Yearling
Can someone explain lead changes to me?

Okay. I know that a "lead" is which hoof lands first during a trot or canter. (...Right?) and a lead change logically is asking the horse to switch which foot lands first. Also that there are simple and flying lead changes.

I have watched a few videos, but I am still confused. Can someone explain exactly what a lead change is and exactly how to train a horse to do it? It seems a common thing, but I just am not getting it. I suppose logically I should start with a simple lead change.
     
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    04-30-2012, 08:14 PM
  #2
Trained
A simple change is when the horse changes canter lead through the walk. In dressage, we want the horse to canter balanced, stay engaged into the walk transition, walk no more than 3 steps, and pick up canter immediately on the other lead.
A flying change is more advanced. We want the horse to have a very solid counter canter, and simple changes before attempting the flying change. Different disciplines teach and expect different versions of a flying change. In dressage, we want the horse to collect, 'skip' onto the other lead, and canter collected on the new lead. Once single flying changes are established, we then start on tempi changes - a flying change every 4th, 3rd, 2nd and then every stride as you see in Grand Prix Dressage.

As for training, we, from a dressage perspective again, you want to have all of your basics very established. As said above, you'll want counter canter, simple changes, shoulder in, travers and the horse with a good ability to collect in the canter. They can be taught a number of ways, depending on the horse. Some will change clean the first time you ask them going on a straight line across the diagonal. Others are better if you ask on a serpentine from counter canter, or on a circle from counter canter.
You want to set the horse up for success. Make sure they are balanced, in collection and in front of the leg. When asking, a series of half halts to prepare the horse, then change the flow of your weight, put your new outside leg back, and change the bend.
Sounds simple, and this is broken down to basic, basic, basics! But flying changes are really quite difficult to train. Many horses will change late behind, occassionally late in front, some will panic and run away if they are not ready for it, etc.

I know some disciplines train by cantering over poles, and this is great for a 'functional' change, say as a show jumper, but it often encourages the horse to be late behind, so we do not use this method when training the dressage horse.
jody111 and DressageDreamer like this.
     
    04-30-2012, 10:11 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
Hi,
Welcome to the Horse Forum.

First of all, 'leads' are only used in reference to a canter (English style riding) or a lope (Western style riding). Leads are never used in reference to a trot or jog.

It is not the first foot to land --- it is the last foot to fall in a three beat gait. If you watch a horse canter/lope, you will see the last beat of the gait when one front foot lands and it is farther out in front of the other. That is the 'lead' the horse is in. If the horse is reaching farther (and last) with his left front hoof, then he is in the left lead. The second beat of a 3-beat lope is when the horse's non-leading front hoof strikes the ground at the same time as the leading hind foot. You will see that when a horse is leading with his left front foot, his left hind foot is also taking a longer stride than the right hind foot.

In order for a horse to turn or circle to the left with any coordination and athletic mobility, the horse has to be in the left lead. For the horse to turn to the right, he must be in the right lead both in front and in the back.

In order for a rider to be able to get anything done correctly on a horse, the rider has to be able to 'feel' what lead a horse is in on the very first step the horse takes at the lope. This is true of hunters and jumpers, barrel horses, reining and cowhorses and any other horse that is ridden at the canter / lope. If a horse tries to turn in the wrong lead, there is just no front foot out there for him to turn and land on. It is very awkward for any horse to work in the wrong lead.

As for lead changes -- that is simply referred to when the horse changes from the right lead to the left or visa verds. A 'simple lead change' occurs when a horse changes from one lead to the other but 'breaks down to a trot or walk between the changes.

A 'flying lead change] is a much more difficult maneuver as the lead change occurs on a single stride according to the que of the rider while the horse is kept in a canter / lope the entire time.

A really bad habit that a lot of horses are allowed to learn is when the horse changes lead in the front end, by his butt is dragging and does not change and stays in the old lead. This is referred to as 'crossfiring'. Horses should not be allowed to cross fire. It is a bad habit and difficult one to break.
     
    05-01-2012, 04:48 PM
  #4
Yearling
Oh! Well, thank both of you who responded with the corrections and instructions (Though honestly, Kayty, I will definitely have to look up some of your terminology. I feel like I'm not quite ready to be teaching lead changes :p)
     
    05-01-2012, 05:01 PM
  #5
Weanling
I'm not going to touch on actually explaining or training a lead change, as you've gotton some great answers, and I'm horrible at explaining in detail.

I just wanted to say, that Kayty's dressage perspective is a good one to learn from. Even though I ride more in the western pleasure circuit, everything I do, is still basic dressage based. You can not achieve a proper lead change with out a balanced, cadenced working horse.

It's good for you to be educated on this, but for now, is there a local trainer, or someone you know that can teach your horse this? It's a maneaver that's on the "finished" side of training..If your horse doesn't move in a balanced manner, and carries himself properly, then he's not ready to move on to lead changes quite yet.

Are you able to recognize a lead, from the ground, and in the saddle?
Get good at recognizing leads on the horse at all angles, till it becomes second nature for you to note a lead.
     
    05-01-2012, 05:06 PM
  #6
Yearling
I can't afford a trainer right now, being in school. I am hoping to get a month of training this summer if I can spare the money - I would love to show her in Western Pleasure.

No, I don't think I could recognize leads from the saddle. Maybe from the ground, as the concept doesn't seem too hard. But I'll definitely start working on it - maybe the trainer at my stable can give me a few pointers without actually having to charge me for a lesson. I wouldn't say she's on the finished side of training either, since I'm a completely novice horse owner (Got Clementine last summer. Didn't know anything about horses.) We've come a long way, but it's hard just trying to learn things based off of the internet and YouTube :)
     
    05-01-2012, 08:40 PM
  #7
Trained
For learning leads in the saddle, the biggest thing that improves a riders balance and feel is to get some lessons on the lunge, with no reins or stirrups, and close your eyes.
Learn about how many beats are in each gait, and then learn off by heart, the footfalls of each gait. When you're in the saddle, doing your 'blind' lunge lesson, really concentrate and tell the person lunging you when a particular leg is on the ground, or coming off the ground. So when the inside hind touches the ground, so 'now...now...now'.
This gives you a really good feel, once you know where every leg is at any one time, in each pace, then you start to become a good rider. Feel is the most important skill you can have on a horse's back and that above all is what differentiates the truely talented rider, from a purely educated but 'robotic' rider.
Skyseternalangel likes this.
     
    05-01-2012, 08:58 PM
  #8
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayty    
For learning leads in the saddle, the biggest thing that improves a riders balance and feel is to get some lessons on the lunge, with no reins or stirrups, and close your eyes.
Learn about how many beats are in each gait, and then learn off by heart, the footfalls of each gait. When you're in the saddle, doing your 'blind' lunge lesson, really concentrate and tell the person lunging you when a particular leg is on the ground, or coming off the ground. So when the inside hind touches the ground, so 'now...now...now'.
This gives you a really good feel, once you know where every leg is at any one time, in each pace, then you start to become a good rider. Feel is the most important skill you can have on a horse's back and that above all is what differentiates the truely talented rider, from a purely educated but 'robotic' rider.
:o that is a brilliant idea! I would have never thought of that. I will definitely try that out once I find someone to do the lunging! Thanks a ton :)
     

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