How to ask for a lead change?
I have been taught a few different ways to ask for a lead change, and I'm wondering what the majority of people do? I'm also curious if it varies from dicipline to dicipline as well. I have heard many hunter trainers tell me to hold my outside rein and push with my inside leg, but i recently began riding at an eventing barn and was taught to simply move my new outside leg back as i'm crossing the arena...
So, let's say you are cantering around your arena, and you head up the diagonal. When you reach the center of the ring you go to ask for a lead change - what do you do? What have you found works best to get a horse (who doesn't have automatic changes) to change leads?
My horse does auto changes, but a horse I trained for a bit really needed a good, supportive outside leg to help him change in the back. If he didn't get a good change in the back I'd just tap him with the crop while still really keeping my outside leg back a little and strong and he'd hop/occasionally buck into it. A lot of it was that he was rusty and hadn't been asked to do anything like it in a while.
I firmly believe that every rider should know how to get the correct lead on landing, so changes aren't necessary. It generally varies from person to person and from horse to horse, but I just shift my weight slightly in the air and as soon as we start coming out of the arc of the jump I push inside leg to outside rein in the direction I want to go. It takes some practice, and you really need to be totally secure in your position, but I prefer it especially when a horse doesn't do auto changes, because there are so many little nuances and slightly different methods to teach a horse the cue for a change. Especially when I'm doing sale videos for people and hop on their horse first time. I'm expected to make the horse look good and bad changes never look good, lol.
The way that the hunter trainers do lead changes is alot easier for a horse that doesn't have auto changes. The other way that you describe makes the horse too frantic.
Secondly, I think saying it makes a horse too frantic is a bit general. It depends on a) the horse and b) how much people practice lead changes on them. Any horse will get antsy and frantic when they're been drilled over and over and lead changes. They start to expect it, which isn't good. I've never had an issue with a horse getting frantic about lead changes when I ask with my outside leg, UNLESS I know other people riding the horse drill it all the time. Then I don't ask for it. I bring them back to a trot, instead, and then ask for the other lead.
First of all - we need to change our thinking about the lead change. It is not changing leads, it's about picking up the new lead of canter.
To ensure we are getting the new lead picked up correctly, we need to have our walk canter and canter walk (ie. simple change through the walk) transitions working very well. The horse should be able to perform these changes in the same frame, coming from behind, with about 3-5 walk steps between canters and exactly straight (in the mirror only the front two legs should be visible). The horse should also be able to perform a counter canter, collected and in balance and be able to pick up the counter canter from walk. They should also be able to begin the counter bend in the corners to establish the new inside leg and outside rein (after the change).
This is how I warm up my changes and only until I can do my simple changes and counter canter perfectly do I go to the flying changes.
In the flying changes - we have to ensure that the horse is really off of the new inside leg and has to jump into the outside rein and the new bend. The correct aid for the flying change is more in the seat than the leg, although using both the inside and outside legs like in the walk to canter transtion is useful for training the change.
Thanks so much guys for all your imput :) I will be sure to try some of these methods next time I ride, and see what works best for us!
great post Anebel. There is also a fantastic article on this in a recent issue of Practical Horseman.
my coach said when you want him to change or even pick up a lope put your outside leg back and your inside leg up and gather up your reigns and just apply pressure!
Right now, I think there are about as many ways to change leads as there are trainers. My current trainer accomplishes it through changing the bend of the horse. If you think about the direction your horse is traveling, he should be bent slightly in that direction of travel. You reverse your cues to ask for the bend in the opposite direction and you should change leads.
The method I am most comfortable with is with a lateral movement, so if I am in the left lead, I would ask for the change to the right by pushing them off my left leg onto the right lead. I have also seen changes by weighting/stepping down into the new outside stirrup, and also using the new inside leg to cue for it (that one confuses the heck out of me). In general, if the horse knows the changes I like to know how they were taught. If they don't, I start them off in the method I am most comfortable
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