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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone know of any good exercises or a good way to help teach flying lead changes?
I'm leasing a young thoroughbred mare this year but she still needs quite a bit of work on them. She gets them sometimes, but often misses her hind end. I'd love to be able to take her to a hunter show at some point and it would be nice to have this down.
I'm not sure if there's anything specific I should do or work on to help with this. Anything is appreciated! Thanks!
 

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You could always try poles. You can line them up diagonally or just straight on the ground. Canter up to them and while going over them, turn the horses head like you are going the opposite direction. also use your outside leg and inside rein. This worked with my 6 yr old mare.
 

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Yea, I wouldn't practise this unless you have someone instructing on the ground. It's too easy to screw it up & just throw the horse over into direction of travel, that is a common mistake, and not a proper lead change.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks :)
I'm going to take some lessons and see if I can work on them, I was just wondering if anyone here had any exercises that my trainer didn't know of.
Thank you both!
 

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Proper flying lead changes require a high degree of skill and a very broke horse. You DO NOT want to change direction or put a lot of pressure on a horse on the outside as they will learn to change in front only and/or learn to resent lead changes and then refuse to change at all. The worst horses I have ever had to teach flying lead changes to were ones that people had fouled up trying to get them to change without collection and control -- particularly control of the horse's hind end.

It is not easy to teach this collection if you are not riding at that level. I have had it take quite a few lessons when the person and the horse was right in front of me, so I do not think an internet lesson is going to get it done. You are going to need feed-back and one on one instruction from a very good H/J, dressage, eventing or reining coach to put it together.

Teaching a collected lead change from a circle with reverse bend or from and counter canter get the most correct changes. Then, they can be moved to collected canter work on a straight line. Using a pole or a direction change teach a horse to change in front first and you just hope they catch up behind. Good hunter changes are just like good dressage to reining changes - they are back to front changes like everything else advanced that a horse is taught.
 

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Okey Dokey then. First practise your position, pace and timing. To get the proper position, your horse's ribcage & shoulders have to be moveable, so if he's loping on the right lead, you use a lot of left leg to move the shoulders & ribcage to right. When you actually want him to change, take off the left leg and put the right one on. Yours hands will stay straight, the lead change will happen off your legs. The pace is the speed at which your horse is comfortable with & to start, it needs to be fairly fast. The timing is knowing when to ask for the change, you have to be in rhythm with your horse to know when he can change, that's a feel thing.
Once you got that down, you can practise a countercanter exercise. Use 1/2 of the arena to start loping in a circle to the right, then cut a straight line across the diagonal & lope a 1/2 circle to the left but keep on the right lead, don't change. On the countercanter, use your right rein & left leg to keep the horse arced right. Keep him moving & don't let him change. Do it to the left & reverse the cues. When you can do this smoothly and without stopping, you are ready for the flying lead change. Do it in the center of the diagonal, if you've done your previous exercises correctly, you should get a smooth change, if not, back to the previous exercises.
Hope this helps, it's a lot of work & practise, but it's the proper way.
 

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The most important thing to know when teaching flying changes is that a flying change only comes from a completely balanced horse. I spent over a year working on flatowrk with my TB before I taught him the flying change and he was doing complete, beautiful changes in 4 days. I owe it all to the extensive flatwork.
 

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Proper flying lead changes require a high degree of skill and a very broke horse. You DO NOT want to change direction or put a lot of pressure on a horse on the outside as they will learn to change in front only and/or learn to resent lead changes and then refuse to change at all. The worst horses I have ever had to teach flying lead changes to were ones that people had fouled up trying to get them to change without collection and control -- particularly control of the horse's hind end.

It is not easy to teach this collection if you are not riding at that level. I have had it take quite a few lessons when the person and the horse was right in front of me, so I do not think an internet lesson is going to get it done. You are going to need feed-back and one on one instruction from a very good H/J, dressage, eventing or reining coach to put it together.

Teaching a collected lead change from a circle with reverse bend or from and counter canter get the most correct changes. Then, they can be moved to collected canter work on a straight line. Using a pole or a direction change teach a horse to change in front first and you just hope they catch up behind. Good hunter changes are just like good dressage to reining changes - they are back to front changes like everything else advanced that a horse is taught.
Just to reinforce this fantastic response.

There is a very good reason why flying changes are not introduced in a dressage test until quite a high level, once counter canter, simmple changes, collected trot/canter, half pass and half pirouettes have all been established. Because a correct flying change, in which the horse remains in collection and changes clean - not late behind, requires a great deal of balance, strength and co-ordination not only from the horse, but also from the rider.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you everyone for the advice and ideas, I'd really like to do this right. I won't be trying anything until I've gotten some more practice on her and worked on flatwork/counter canter. And just to clarify, I will be in a lesson with my coach present whenever I'm attempting any of this. I definitely wouldn't consider myself ready to try this on my own, but with coaching I hope I can.

She's got a pretty solid base in her flatwork and jumping already, she's actually got a lovely smooth/balanced canter so I'm hoping that will help.

I found a video of her- she gets half of her change in this one. I hope she hasn't gotten too much into the habit of just getting her front.

 

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She seems to be very pleasant and very willing. She needs a LOT more collection -- she needs to move more from back to front -- more impulsion. I would work at getting her up into the bridle more using more leg and getting more engagement from behind. With proper use of hands and more impulsion, she will round her back more, lift her belly and get her hind end up underneath her a lot better. You cannot get proper hind to front lead changes without that kind of collection and engagement.

Half changes are worse than no change as horses can get comfortable with them and make a habit of half changes with a hesitation and a late catch-up from behind -- actually breaking stride to catch up.

Obviously you cannot place very well with simple changes, but you would do less harm to future training with simple changes than half changes until you get the impulsion needed for flying changes. As a bonus, developing this impulsion and rounded back will give you a horse that is a much better horse over fences. While any horse with about any form can jump small fences, the horse that has been taught to use itself well will make a far better horse over big fences.

Countercanter -- You are so right. The correct foundation and NOT trying to do something a horse is not ready for will often give you a perfect change on the first try. Not only is every part of the horse in the right place, the horse's mind is not at all upset by asking for changes. If you have a horse with anxiety that charges or stiffens for a coming change, wrings its tail or acts resentful, you know that it has NOT been properly prepared.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I did notice that she is pretty weak with her hind end, especially over fences. I've started working on framing her up and getting more hind engagement but she definitely needs some back-to-basics flatwork. I'm hopeful that she'll be able to improve wi a more consistent rider, she gets much more nervous and less collected and organized in the IHSA shows she does, like the one in the video.

If she isn't show ready this summer that's fine by me, I'd just like to get her going in that direction and fix some of her inconsistencies. Thank you for your critique Cherie, that was really incredibly helpful (and reassuring to hear that I was thinking correctly and her weak hind end engagement, haha).
 

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Coming from a jumping background and not a hunter background, I see changes being needed as a result of the rider not doing her job well. I like being able to let the horse know which lead they need to land on. This means that you are telling the horse before they jump where they will be going and cueing them as they leave the ground. Changes have a moment of imbalance that I try to avoid at all costs. Even a second of hesitation (often seen during a change) can cost you big time in jumpers.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I don't know the rider in the video but although it would be ideal to always land on the correct lead, I'd like to have a flying change if she doesn't. I think I'm going to stay away from jumpers with Paris, she gets nervous and falls apart with too much speed. For now at least I'd further focus on getting her balanced, engaged, and organized. Thank you for your input!
 

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You're absolutely right. Jumper is not something a horse gets thrown into. They must be well trained and carefully prepared. It is always best to start them in a slow, measured and well paced manner. I spoke regarding a horse who has been "around the block".
 

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I am totally standing by the in gate with the rest of my team haha. I ride for UK, we love Paris! Are you showing at Zones this weekend?
 

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Haha that's awesome! I ride at Morehead mostly but at the UK barn too one or two times a week, I'd like to go there when I'm in college.
You own Henry? I held Henry for a while at the Lakeside show, he's fantastic.

I'll be at Zones holding horses this weekend, but I'm not showing since I'm still in IEA, we had Zones a few weekends ago.
 
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