lead changes and how to do them

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lead changes and how to do them

This is a discussion on lead changes and how to do them within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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  • 2 Post By Spyder
  • 1 Post By 2BigReds

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    11-05-2011, 11:05 PM
Question lead changes and how to do them

What is the correct way to ask a horse to change leads? What about flying lead changes ect? And when you are on top of a horse how do you know or feel if the horse has successfully done the lead change?
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    11-06-2011, 05:09 PM
This is how I taught my horse, I don't know if it's right or not, but she's extremely automatic now so... I must've done something right!

Make sure you have a solid canter cue before you teach changes. Mine is outside leg, inside rein. Also, make sure you have a fairly balanced horse; doing lots of circles helps.

Before the flying change, I started with the simple change. Transitions on the rail REALLY helps prepare a horse for simple changes. A solid canter cue and instantaneous responses are key. Once your horse has fully understood the cue for the canter and doesn't think twice about going into the canter or halting from a canter, then you can introduce the simple change. I really like introducing changes with 20 meter circles. I canter around to the middle of the ring, ask for a halt at 'X', then ask for the other lead and go the opposite direction.

After you've mastered simple changes, you can move to the flying change. Again, have your horse going on a 20 meter circle with a fair amount of momentum. When I started teaching her, I'd do at least one full circle, then as I came to the center for the second one, I'd continue to ride like I was going to do another circle the same way, then at last minute, I'd turn the other way. At the same time, I'd give her the cue for the other lead. With such a sharp turn, the only way to keep from falling over is to change the lead. A few lessons doing this, and the horse will begin to understand the mechanics of the flying lead change.

After the horse has mastered its changes at the 20 meter figure 8, try doing them with 3 loop serpentines and even 4 loop. That would make them have to do smaller half circles and gain balance, and do many changes frequently.

I do these exercises every time I ride and my mare is really good at her changes now.

Another really important thing to keep in mind is your balance. If you're leaning into the turn, it'll be harder for your horse to pick up the correct lead. Make sure you are sitting still, and in the center of your horse's back. Make sure your commands are firm and clear.

Hope that helps!
    11-06-2011, 05:39 PM
Originally Posted by Casey02    
What is the correct way to ask a horse to change leads? ?

One question= 10 different answers.
ReiningGirl and 2BigReds like this.
    11-06-2011, 07:16 PM
The fist is a really good response.

Some people like to put a ground pole down to go over in the center of your point the the circles meat.

Some people say to make the circles more like two D's Have the point were your circles touch go straight. It is better to teach the change on a strait.

Don't try to just through your weight and the horse off balance and force him to change. Go slow and give them time to figure it out.
    11-06-2011, 07:26 PM
Lovethesaddlebreds- that was really helpful information! I really like how you don't force the horse to take the lead but rather teach them to learn it. I am currently working on trotting in circles then it will be up to the canter. Thanks a buch for the info!

Spyder- yeah I figured I would get that hahaha

Raywonk- thank you for the post also!
    11-06-2011, 07:35 PM
The way I've been taught is close to Love's method but trotting a few strides instead of stopping in between the change. It's kinda the same concept, but instead of stopping the horse is still moving forward. Once they get comfortable with this, decrease the number of trotting strides until you're doing flying changes.

I cue in the same way as Love as well, though I specifically move my leg back on the horse's side to "push his hip out" and kiss. Really the kiss is more of the cue since you should be able to move parts your horse's body independently at any gate, but it helps them start off on the correct lead especially when training. The one rein up cue won't help in competition if your ultimate goal is reining but it helps when schooling. I can't see why it wouldn't be the same in competition for English disciplines, though.

As for being able to feel what lead the horse is on, that comes with experience. When I was learning, I could kind of cheat and look down at the shoulders to tell though that's no help if the horse is cross firing. Generally if it feels like you're on an overloaded washing machine, something's not right!
ReiningGirl likes this.
    11-08-2011, 11:10 AM
2bigreds- thanks for the information! Very helpful, the feeling of the changing lead I love how you compare it to an overloaded washing machine hahaha!!!
    11-08-2011, 01:41 PM
No problem, Casey! And it is SO true!!! If it's not fairly smooth there's usually something wrong haha
    11-08-2011, 02:27 PM
Originally Posted by 2BigReds    
The way I've been taught is close to Love's method but trotting a few strides instead of stopping in between the change. It's kinda the same concept, but instead of stopping the horse is still moving forward. Once they get comfortable with this, decrease the number of trotting strides until you're doing flying changes.
This is how we teach them too.
    11-08-2011, 02:58 PM
Originally Posted by mls    
This is how we teach them too.
Seems to me that most horses learn relatively well this way. They'd have to be able to successfully start on the correct lead from a stop every time to do it the other way. Granted, they SHOULD be taught this, but it's nice to be able to do some prep work earlier in the process and I would think it's easier on the horse to have some momentum going. I haven't tried teaching the other way so I can't really judge though.

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