How do you train a flying lead change?

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How do you train a flying lead change?

This is a discussion on How do you train a flying lead change? within the Reining forums, part of the Western Riding category
  • Lead changing issues reining horse
  • How to do a flying lead change on a trained horse

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    11-27-2012, 10:57 AM
Green Broke
How do you train a flying lead change?

So I have the general concept of how to train a horse to do flying lead changes. However, there's a good chance I'm not doing it quite right because my 6-yr-old quarter horse Red just isn't getting it. I purchased him in May. He'd never really been off the farm when I got him.

I am set up to take him to a trainer for 30 days in Feb/March to help me with some of these fine tune issues. And for pain issues, he just had the dentist work on his last week, and we have a chiro/vet health exam set up for February, before he goes to the trainer.

I haven't done much riding now that winter has hit and the ground is frozen and hard and it's dark at 5:00 PM ...... But! When we were riding on a regular basis, the light bulb had come on for his simple lead changes and he was nailing them 95% of the time.

When he's listening to me (Red sure has a hard time focusing, that's our main battle) he is quite sensitive and soft with his sides. When he's paying attention, I can steer him completly with my legs.

He also has this uncanny ability to lope in circles on the wrong lead. I would think it would be uncomfortable for him to do so (as I have let him do it sometimes, trying to see if he gets the "hint" of how uncomfortable it is) but he just hasn't figured it out yet.

I don't need him to be a world-caliber reining horse. But it would be nice to do things correctly at small local shows. I primarily barrel race, but I do enjoy doing other events and I do want my barrel horses to have a sound mind.

So when you teach flying lead changes to a horse, what cues in what order do you do?
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    11-27-2012, 04:36 PM
Forehand turns. Both at a stand still and expanded, which means pushing the hip out while moving. This is remarkable for unsticking that flying change button. Combine this with counter canter and it's incredible.

With Ruger, learning the flying change wasn't hard because he has excellent hip control. I mean, you need to control the entire body for a change, but it's amazing how big the hip can be. He already knew simple changes and he already could figure 8 at the lope changing leads in between because I would make him. No finesse but he got the idea.

When I went to do it, I would pick up a lead on a straight line and then make a broad circle in the counter canter. You need to keep your leg there and guide the shoulders to keep him in the lead otherwise you lose 50% of your cue. So, leg on the hip pushing it to the outside (Towards the rail) and hands keeping him just barely bent to the rail as well. Flexion and hip.

Once we got on the counter canter, I would go ahead and change my flexion and go a single stride with his nose bent in but my leg still keeping him from falling into the other lead. Then, I would remove the leg and apply the other one; The cue for the change. If he didn't change within two strides, I would break him to the trot, push his hip in a 45 degree angle to the fence, and then pick up the correct lead. It only took him a day or two and he would perform the change 75% of the time.

It helps on a finished horse too; This is my absolute favorite thing to do with Selena because she gets bound up on lead changes even though she knows full well what they mean.

Does that all make sense?
Smokum likes this.
    11-27-2012, 04:49 PM
Green Broke
Okay, so let's say we are on the left lead, and you want to do a flying lead change to the right.

You start on the left lead, and make a circle to the right, keeping your right leg on the hip for support and keeping that slight counter canter bend in the whole body. (Nose tipped to the left, etc)

When you complete your circle, you go one stride keeping everything the same. Then you remove your right leg, and then apply your left leg, allowing the horse to straighten his body and/or curve appropriately for a right lead on a right circle.

If he misses it after two strides, I break him down to the trot, and over push his hip 45 degrees with my LEFT leg, and then make him pick up his right lead.

Makes sense. I'll have to haul to an indoor arena one of these days to try it! The ground is too lumpy and hard now outside that it has frozen to expect him to do anything correct like this!

I've done a teeny bit of counter arc work with him, but I should certainly do more.
SorrelHorse likes this.
    11-27-2012, 05:09 PM
Yep that's it. Do some prep work too, like trotting squares and making the turns by pushing his hip out instead of the shoulder. So, trot a line, push the hip 90 degrees, trot another line, push the hip, etc.

I have a video somewhere but I can't get it on school internet. Once you get all that done, I find the change is actually relatively easy.
    11-27-2012, 06:41 PM
Does anyone train a reluctant lead changer over a ground pole?
Horses generally change leads after a jump, so a small sturdy pole on the ground and then change in direction (same ques same everything) will encourage the swap.
    11-28-2012, 12:03 AM
I've never had the need for ground poles....We don't ride english either though so no jumps, maybe it would work easier with one, I don't know. I've just never used one or see my trainer use one. Might be interesting to see done though.
    11-28-2012, 08:05 AM
If your horse never had a problem with switching or switching hind and fore then you have no need to use one! :)
    11-28-2012, 01:59 PM
Hehe..Well maybe one of these days I'll get a difficult one to ride and I can test it out...I think Ruger would have tripped and fallen on his face.
    11-28-2012, 02:11 PM
Sorrel, what's your thoughts on a finished horse who changes in the front and not in the back?? My guy does this sometimes, I have awesome hip control on him, I can move it wherever I want! But sometimes we only get half a change!!!!
    11-28-2012, 02:14 PM
Does he do it on both sides? Is he sore at all?

If not I would break him down and push his hip far to the inside like you mean it, then pick up the lead again. Also expanded forehand turns at the trot, I don't think you can do enough of those. Me and Selena will do those for hours at shows.

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