Lead changes/transitions

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Lead changes/transitions

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    04-11-2011, 03:49 PM
Lead changes/transitions

I have a few questions concerning a green horse and cantering.

My mare is my first green horse. I have ridden plenty of green horse but the owners never cared if the horse could do anything, just so long as it w/t and didn't buck going into a canter they were happy. So I'm missing some knowledge on the finer points of cantering.

So first, flying lead changes. My mare can do them just fine on her own, but I'm curious when I can introduce them under saddle. And how? I was planning on doing figure eights and slowing down into a trot for a few strides and cueing next lead in the middle and slowly lesson the trot sides until she figures out to switch leads and then move to a straight line lead changes without breaking down into a trot. Sound reasonable or is there a better method?

And there is a certain time to ask for the lead change, its the split second that all feet are off the ground right? Its been awhile since I've done a lot of cantering work, I'm going to have to spend some time just making sure I can tell where her feet are at all times while cantering.

Also, this might seem like a useless questions, but walk to canter transitions? The "trainer" I worked with while riding the green horses liked to just run into the canter by having the horse trot and do that horrible unbalanced trot until they broke into the canter so needless to say what the horses learnt by being allowed to do that all the time drove me up the wall. You could never go straight into a canter.
I've been working hard at only cueing her to canter when she is in a nice, forward relaxed trot. Is it only a matter of time before the cue gets so well learned that she'll figure it out if I ask from a walk? Or should I start asking from a walk sooner? I really want to avoid any rushing into the canter.

I do have an instructor, just we've both been very busy lately and plus with her leaving for the summer I should get used to asking someone else my questions.

Thanks for any input.
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    04-11-2011, 04:22 PM
If the horse can side pass, put them in a left lead, then stop, side pass to the left, cue for the right.... that will start the horse on listening for the pre-lead change cues.
    04-11-2011, 04:36 PM
Thats interesting. She can side pass, so walk to canter and stand still to canter would be really beneficial before lead changes?
    04-11-2011, 06:20 PM
Well first you don't want her to be on her shoulder because then she will do them everywhere. Usually a horse is ready for flying changes when it can do trot half-pass,collected canter, and 10m circles. When training a horse flying changes you don't want a horse to run through it. So I would try some and if the horse doesn't get it right away don't rush it. Work on some other moves such as changes through the circle and half-pass to get your horse bending and off the inside shoulder. Then just work on you canter and some quick changes. Eventually you could make the quick changes so fast it will be a flying lead change.

As for the walk to canter transitions the horse should not run into it. You should make sure your horse is on the bit and then you can half halt up into the canter, but make sure you give your reins once you half halt because then your horse will throw its head in the air. If the horse trots for more than 3 steps going into the canter stop and try again. Once the horse does it correctly praise it alot. Then eventually it will jump in the canter all by itself without running! Hope this helps! :)
    04-11-2011, 07:30 PM
Try this video....Video: Flying Lead Change Prep from Western Trainer Al Dunning
    04-12-2011, 02:06 AM
Have you done any counter canter work with her? I would not introduce flying changes until you have got a very solid counter. Simple changes also need to be spot on before you introduce flying changes.
I'd work out the 'finer points of cantering' before starting your changes - you can mess a horse up training changes and not knowing what you're doing.
    04-12-2011, 10:40 AM
For most horses flying lead changes are easier than simple changes. You see horses just switch leads running out in the field naturally. With simple changes the horse has to break into a trot, rebalanced then pick up a canter, then balance in the canter again. With that being said, teaching your horse simple changes first is a good thing. It helps them become more balanced. Although you shouldn't introduce lead changes until the horse is balanced on all four feet at the canter.

How do you know if they're balanced? One indicator is if they don't run to pick up the canter. Horses run to pick up a canter, because they are falling on the forehand and try to regain their balance. Just like how if you trip you kind of pick up speed so you don't fall on your face. Horses should feel like they jump into the canter using their hind end. Another thing is if a horse yanks their head down at the canter, also means they are losing their balance, and falling on the forehand.

I would try and pick up a canter when your horse is in a slow sitting trot, and try to keep their head up, and your hands steady, when she picks up the canter. Trot canter transitions are your best friend. Try cantering a few steps then break to a trot. Organize yourself in a slow sitting trot again, then ask for a canter. Then repeat.

Before introducing lead changes you should make sure your horse can move off your leg pretty well, and they have a lateral bend. Also working on half halts so your horse gets used to working from back to front. All energy needs to come from the horses back end. Once your horse is using their hind end, then you can start introducing lead changes.

Just be patient with everything...it takes a lot of time, but then one day, it will feel like out of nowhere; everything will just click.

Good luck!
    04-12-2011, 01:12 PM
I'd work out the 'finer points of cantering' before starting your changes - you can mess a horse up training changes and not knowing what you're doing.
And that's why I'm asking well in advanced . I like knowing what to expect/do long before I need it. I am also going to keep doing lessons and not introduce anything new without my instructors eyes from the ground. I know I have lots of things to work out first now.

So lots of good t/c transitions, side passing, spirals at a canter in and out would be pretty good then? Just as long as I make sure she doesn't drop into circle.
Counter canter and simple lead changes will come after as I think I want to wait for lots of canter work until I can get out of the indoor. Its a little on the small side for me.

At least I now have many little goals to perfect with her throughout the summer.

I used to hang around a trainer who would start horses and within a few days after the first time cantering under saddle would start flying lead changes. What are the odds that the horses were unbalanced or not doing them right?
I know one horse nose dived a lot at the canter but it was always blamed on this particulars horse's carriage. But then again, a lot of recent events have made me completely re-evaluate this trainer's techniques...
    04-13-2011, 08:07 PM
A pole on the ground or a small jump (gradually decreasing to a pole on the ground) is helpful when introducing lead changes!

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