Flying Lead Changes?
Today at the barn we had another weekly group ride. We usually ride around the arena for an hour or two, and then race barrels and then poles before cooling our horses, brushing them down, and then graining/kicking them out.
Today I rode Shay (closest), an Appaloosa that I normally avoid because of his sour attitude. After all, who wants to deal with a Crappy Appy on a nice Sunday ride? This time I wanted someone different; not the dead broke horses but not the completely PMS-y mare Darla. So I chose the medium, Shay! And a good choice.
Anyway, I took Shay through a practice run on the poles, which to my knowledge he's never done before today. Outside of some minute turning issues -- thinking that when we rounded the end pole it was time to haul balls back to the start -- he did rather well. So my mentor went to fetch a timer and decided to make it a game and time us. Shay and I went last.
After going down we turned through the poles; and I heard a co-worker exclaim about his lead changes.
I felt nothing.
So I'm curious: did I give him a cue or did he do it naturally? Some people say it's difficult to keep your seat in flying lead changes, but I felt nothing out of the ordinary.
Can anyone tell me more about flying lead changes and their cues? I read that it has to do with shifting your weight, or it's nudging the horse in a specific way. It's all confusing. How do you guys do it? What are the mechanics of executing a flying lead change, and how should I maintain my seat?
Well at the local sports day my friend was on her 9yo tb ex racer and they were doing poles and he changed around every single one without missing a beat, she wasn't cueing him to her knowledge, and it didn't look like it, he's never been trained to do them on command. And she sat there perfectly fine, he never did anything that should have unseated her.
I know when I set bubbles up for a flying change though, she leaps through her change and trys to take off afterwards sometimes, and with her short choppy canter it's quite difficult to sit it at the best of times.
A flying change should not throw you out of the saddle, it is important that your horse stay balanced and collected throughout the change. My sister owns a tb that when he first was asked for flying changes he would leap across the arena totally strung out and would drag you forward out of the tack, this is not correct. When I ask for a flying change (say across the diagonal) I would first start by establishing the correct rythm and making sure that my horse is responding to my aids, I would come out of the corner maintaining the bend with my outside leg slightly back, soft inside reign, light contact on the outside. Then to ask for the change, switch your aids. So ask for the new bend, new inside leg at the girth, new outside moves back behind the girth, new inside seatbone reaching up and forward. Its hard to say exactly what your flying changes were a result of without seeing a video or knowing more about you and the horse. It was probably through your horse naturally trying to balance itself and from you asking for a new bend/redistributing your weight.
It could be very likely that the horse was naturally doing the changes. A lot of our Nootigedacht ponies will not do a flying change when asked but if you do a row of bending poles, they wil change after every pole.
Some horses (in my limited experience) will have a smoother flying change (which is how it should be) than some others but my pony has never unseated me when she does a flying change. Also, some horses only change in front with poles (a gymkhana pony I rode for a little while used to do this).
To ask my mare to do a flying change, I do the same as rosie1 posted above, but she's getting pretty tuned to it (or at least she was before she was off for 3 months) so usually if we change direction and bend, she automatically changes her lead.
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