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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well...I know most of you know by now I've been working for a trainer who doesn't ride anymore.

Well I've been there since late June, things were hard, and we've gotten through most of our issues.

Now we're teaching the colts to change leads. Two of them do great, picked up flying changes no problem and will get them every time.

The other two though...Sigh. I don't know what's wrong. They are hard headed. They will crossfire every time and throw their shoulders in. I pick them up, practice unlocking their hips, more bend, less bend, more leg, less leg, trying them across the diagonal, across the center, at the corners...Everything I can think of.

And now I've reached a deadline...Have them changing by the end of the week. I don't know what he intends to do at the end of the week...Worst case scenario I lose my job, but my gut says that he won't fire me because there's no one who knows these horses like I do. I just know that if I don't get them changing, I'm gonna be back in a tension ridden environment...

I'm so frustrated. I've never had this much trouble getting a horse to change leads. The other two are great so I don't understand what I'm doing wrong with these colts. Sigh...I am worried too of having to look my boss in the eye and tell him I can't change these horses. :/

Well I guess you can offer advice if you'd like...I just needed to rant. I'm open to anything really.
 

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Have you thought about asking him to watch you and offer any advice he can on the two who will not catch them? And if nothing else at least he will know your trying your hardest to get them doing their changes.
 

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Try using no rein and pick up the speed a touch when asking for the fly. Sometimes fixes crossfirers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've asked him what he thought, he says he's not sure. /sigh/, That frustrates me even more, because if we're both out of ideas, how can I be expected to get this fixed? I'm just at a loss.

Thanks Wares - I'll try that tomorrow.
 

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Try moving the shoulders to the outside, then shift the hind quarters in.(outside and inside as it pertains to the new direction) I agree, make sure you don't use too much rein or it will shut them down.

Good luck!
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When I ask for the change I typically pick up their shoulders ad press their hip in. These ones have taken to diving in and ignoring my attempt to stand them up. I've tried all I can think of to correct the shoulder throwing but I'm just running out of luck and now the pressure is on...sigh.
 

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Try not using the reins at all and just cue with your body, worked wonders for my horse, also I ask for a little more speed. Let me know if it works for you.
 

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Will they pick up the correct lead when they start loping from a stop or another gait?
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yep Kaycee. I can do a simple or interrupted change, and pick up the lope from a halt or w/t, and their hips are super soft and loosened up at the trot.
 

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This may be seen as a radical idea, but consider simply looking where you want to go and going there. Changing the horse's diagonal point of balance AS you change directions, not BEFORE you change directions. The conventional thing to do is to try to engage the push leg for the new direction with an outside leg but this is more likely to bring his attention in the opposite of the direction you're actually trying to go thus causing him to resist against himself which is going to literally force him to resist you. Or put another way, he can't do it because you're in his way. You're trying to make him because of the pressure that this trainer is putting you under, which you're carrying over to the horses because you cannot dare fail. Be careful - it won't work! Or if you do get what you want, it will at the very least be at great cost to the horse (and to you). I suppose it becomes a question of what your horsemanship principles are and where you want to stand, what your goals are. It's phenomenal that you've got the other two already changing at the lope, if they're colts! Lot of folks would kill to have a good rider like that around, and I bet if you got with some outfit where they valued taking their time with their horses there's no telling how good you can become. But the words 'colts' and 'deadline' don't belong in the same sentence.
 

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I usually give the horses a solid 12 months from starting the changes before expecting a clean solid change every time.
A week is a bit extreme.

There are a few exercises to try. From a left lead canter, begin a left half pass and slowly turn it into a leg yield (ie, flexed to the right) but without the horse scooting out through the left side. The body should be parallel to the longside of the arena. Then ask for the change and continue the LY for another few strides.
As well from a counter canter (ie right lead) do a loop off the wall, not quite to the center of the arena, and as you begin turning right back to the wall, ask for the change to left lead and continue turning right.

Those are my go tos for a late change. You also might need to consider that the horses aren't ready for changes quite yet.
I agree that young horses and deadlines don't go together.

Good luck!
 

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Change leads over a ground pole - basically tricks them into getting the right lead and that inside hind leg HAS to stretch under them to make it over the pole, and before they realize it, they are on the correct lead! Sometimes, you have to be tricksy.
I did it with Squiggy the other day and she didnt crossfire once! Even when I made her turn in a pretty tight circle right after she got the lead, which is quite often when she does get flustered and crossfires for no reason.

I did it with her transition from a trot to a lope, but it works the same for a change. Your timing has to be spot on though, but I dont think its something you cant handle.
 

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I agree with Ian. These things take time and horses will learn what they learn in their own amount of minutes, whether you and your boss like it or not. If you're riding these two with that anticipation of "deadline, end of week" though, you're probably not helping yourself. Remember to breathe and remind yourself that any stress you carry can be picked up by your horse.

I'm just curious, what happens when your horse does pick up the wrong lead? Like what do you do?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That depends...The filly who isn't changing, I pick her up and slow her down (She rushes when she crossfires) and she then switches her hind. If she actually changes, instead of crossfiring, she doesn't rush at all.

The colt, I roll my spur or break him to the trot/walk if I have to. Whatever I have to do to correct it. Once they do get it, I go ahead and relax.



I did get the colt to change today though. He crossfired the first time, then I kinda just screwed around with it and I found by over-exaggerating my inside rein he would lift up and change. I've spent so long trying to get his hip soft that if I mess with that too much now he gets irritated. He's a very kinda horse so I only do what is necessary without picking on him.

The filly however, we got one change to the right and never did get changed to the left. She is terribly stiff. I always have to spend extra time bending her, and even after that I don't think she's ever going to be as flexible as some.

The two colts that are already changing have proved to be wonderful. I have a roan filly and a bay filly, both will change on the straight if I asked them too.

I agree with you guys that colts shouldn't have deadlines - But in the cowhorse industry they have to be ready to go at a young age. It shouldn't take this long to teach a change, imo, and I can see how the boss is getting frustrated but I also think that these horses in particular are just going to be difficult. They've had more cow work than the other two, and less dry work, so they aren't quite as refined which is where I think the problem lies...
 
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