Lovely Lead Changes

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Lovely Lead Changes

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    01-18-2010, 01:51 PM
Angry Lovely Lead Changes

Hey everyone!

I have had my horse for going on four years, and I love him more than anything. He isn't stubborn with anything EXCEPT lead changes. *sigh* We have been working on these forever, and he just doesn't want to do them. He will changes his lead, but most of the time he kicks out and then changes. If you get lucky, he will change smoothly and happily, but it's usually hit or miss.

Some backround information-

He got checked out by the vet a while back and he had a sore spot, but that has been fixed. My first trainer taught him in a way I wouldn't agree with which was by hitting him and drilling him. My new trainer has been helping me build up muscle and bending etc. But he still wants to be difficult. We are probably going to bring him to the chiropractor soon, but we don't think that is the problem. Please answer this question in terms of him being stubborn, not sore. He has improved with flying changes, but he just won't get it through his head.

Yesterday, in my lesson, he kicked and kicked and kicked. He started out fabulous, with only a few kicks here and there, but as we continued through out the lesson it got worse. It was sort of funny because when I hit him for kicking out, he kicked again so I pulled him in a circle (he was totally ignoring me). I then proceded to relax and pick up the canter again. When going across for the lead (heres the funny part) he lifted his butt in the air as if to kick, and then tucked hs butt and changed, almost like a five year old about to be spanked trying to cover his butt. That right there sort of gave it away that he was being stubborn, not sore.

*Ahem* after all that information my question is: Do you have any tips on how to fix this problem, and should I punish him with my crop when he kicks out. I personally don't like hitting him, but I think it's pretty neccessary when he kicks out.

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    01-18-2010, 02:05 PM
Horses want to please. They want to get along. If they didn't humans would never have been able to tame them so stubborness is a human made excuse that you should let go of. The question is "how can I set my horse up better to change leads?". It usually is a matter of the rider being in the way of the horse when he is trying to change. I went for years without doing flying lead changes and I thought it was my horse. Once I got some help and set the horse up to succeed they started happening much easier. Same horse with the same training but when I got out of the way the horse could perform.
    01-18-2010, 03:24 PM
Horses can only do lead changes if they are truly balanced. It's possible that he kicks out when he lead changes because he needs to be more balanced, or you're not "setting him up" in an ideal way, or he needs more impulsion to change his lead - it's hard work! You could be getting in his way by leaning to look for to see if he's changed it yet.

I would try asking him to counter canter a fair amount to help with his balance, and try not to get in his way.
    01-18-2010, 08:44 PM
Thanks for your replies everyone! GOOD NEWS! Today I went down to the barn, and two out of three times he got his change, and he didn't object AT ALL! I was VERY proud of him and let him know it. After he did a lead change each way I let him be done, and immediately after each change I rubbed his neck and sweet talked him, letting him know what a good boy he was. It was a very encouraging ride :)
    01-18-2010, 08:53 PM
How do you do a flying change?? Maybe it is your technic?
Lead changes come from your butt and your legs. I think of squeezing a tube of tooth paste. You squeeze the lead out of the horse.
    01-18-2010, 08:56 PM
Originally Posted by RiosDad    
how do you do a flying change?? Maybe it is your technic?
Lead changes come from your butt and your legs. I think of squeezing a tube of tooth paste. You squeeze the lead out of the horse.
OOOhhh. Good analogy!
    01-19-2010, 09:33 PM
That is a good analogy! Usually, I do outside leg behind the girth and inside leg at the girth. We have tried a lot of different things. We should be taking him to the chiropractor this Friday, just to rule out any possible pain before he goes to "lead change boot camp," but as said before he is making progress. I'll be posting updates to let everyone know what is going on. I'm so determined I'm not going to take no for an answer. Whenever I hack, I usually ask him for a lead change each way and if he does it without kicking out, I let him be done. I want to be sure I'm not drilling him, it seems to get worse the more frequent I ask him if there are no breaks in-between. If anyone else has more ideas I will be more than happy to hear them! Thanks! =]
    01-19-2010, 10:09 PM
Oh cool, I'm glad you're taking him to the chiro. They can find things that vets can't!

Anyways, do you ask for them going straight, or do you ask for them coming to the center of a figure 8 or serpentine? I always teach flying changes on a figure 8, much easier to coax them into it when going into a turn than on the straight away. I know more people that train them on the curve though.

Another way is to pick up a canter, and once you come around the oval, canter straight across to the corner opposite you are facing, on a diagonal line. As you head into the corner and just start to turn, cue for the lead change. They pretty much HAVE to change, or run into the wall.

I know you said you've had him for awhile, but maybe you need to go back to simple changes to reinforce the basics? Canter the figure 8, come down to a few strides of trot, and then ask him to move off. Once he's confident in that, make it one stride less before you ask for the other lead, and so on. Get it until he's comfortable coming to the trot, trotting one stride, and picking up the other lead. Then, ask for the full change.

If anything, it'll keep his mind working and his feet moving, maybe he's just anxious about doing the change or not strong enough to do it yet. Maybe start every session with the simple changes so he doesn't anticipate it, and throw in the full lead change when he's not expecting it every time.
    01-19-2010, 10:35 PM
I've been having a similar issue, I know my guy isn't sore (gone through the same steps you have) so I'm sure I am getting in his way AND probably not seting him up. On course he has auto lead changes like he was born to be a hunter (usually LOL) but on the flat he will change in the front and then 'shorten' his gait (probably because I pick the reins up too much and 'close' him up so to speak) do a kick and change in the back. I need to sit up more I am sure I'm leaning forward lol. Plus I am thinking I don't have his butt under him enough on the flat where as on course it's easier for me to keep him on is butt.... hard to explain but you are not alone! I'm just fixing everything I am doing wrong
    01-20-2010, 12:09 AM
Oh that's SO hard to deal with... the swapping in front or back independently. That is something that really frustrates the crap out of me.

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