Brag moment - I figured out my leads!
A bit of background information - I am a fairly inexperienced pony clubber and trail rider, who owns a sweet, somewhat lazy Arab cross pony with a mean jump and a talent for adapting to whatever craze I am currently pursuing.
So for the past month or so, I have been playing around with canter leads. I have been trying to figure what combination of leg aids, hand and weight gives me a certain lead on a straight line, every time.
In the past, when I rode always in an arena I would simply cue for a canter and trust my mare that she would know which rein we were currently working on and pick up the correct lead accordingly. However, when I began to also ride on trails and the beach, because I was not specifying leads she would simply pick one, more commonly her left. This was leading to uneven muscle development.
So then I began my quest to learn to ask her to choose a specific lead. I couldn't learn in a riding lesson, as in an arena she automatically just picks the lead that corresponds to the rein we where working on, regardless of where my weight/legs/hands were, etc. So I had to learn to ask for specific leads outside of an arena, which meant by myself, without my riding coach.
Now after a month or so of fiddling, experimenting, questioning and reading up various articles, both on here and other places on the internet, I am proud to announce that as of today I have figured out how to ask for the right/left lead, on a straight line, and get it every time. YIPPEE!
Yeah, that is my little boast done. Now excuse me, I'm off to feed carrots and tell my horse what a wonderful girl she is.
I thought I gave too many details!
Here is what I do, I look straight ahead, keep my weight even, press hard with my inside leg, stretch my outside leg down and slightly back, and lift my inside hand 1/2 cm higher than my outside hand.
Part of my problem is that at first I thought I had to change my weight, but that failed and I was throwing her off balance. Then I thought I was supposed to push more with my outside leg, but that didn't work. Finally I realized that instead of scrunching up my outside when I moved it back, I needed to lengthen in down. Bingo, canter lead!
Ah, nice! Thanks for the details. Was wondering if you shifted weight to the right or left seat bone while doing the other things. I am also working on this.
OOHHHHHHHHHh I just had a thought.................... flying lead change, :lol:
Yeah, I tried shifting weight but she just went sideways, and I was then trying to keep her straight with my outside leg. So I was trotting sideways across the beach while trying to get to to canter straight on a certain lead! Finally I realized that the weight thing was just confusing and unbalancing her, so I kept the weight even.
Also I was pushing TOO hard at one point with my inside leg, and it was throwing ME off balance. Then I figured out I only need a tiny amount more pressure on the inside than the outside, which gave me a much nicer transition.
Well done! Little victories like this are always great moments. As a beginner rider myself, I'm just starting to get steering-via-seat-alone figured out - and I felt ever so clever the first time I started getting it working. Good for you with your little victory!
Good for you. I'm very happy for you. It's not easy for many.
My youngest really struggled with leads. She was the one who was never interested in the technicalities of arena riding, but did a great job with training ranch horses. A healthy, fit horse will take the best lead and even do flying lead changes naturally in a ranch work setting. It's either that or fall over in some instances! A sane horse keeps their balance. So leads are not something you really have to focus on.
Now she's working in a different discipline. I tried to help her. A coach tried to help her. But she just struggled with both cuing and sensing the leads.
Her boss finally said something that clicked for her (besides "If you want to keep your job"). Now you'd think she invented the whole thing, acting like she's an expert! Makes me smile.
I would say that this deserves a happy dance.
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