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crazyhorses
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:10 PM
My 5 year old and I have been working on some lead changes lately. She gets them pretty well. The only problem is that I have to either really kick or use a dressage whip (on the new outside haunch) to get her to switch.

I'm afraid she is going to become too dependent on the whip or hard kicking. What can I do to fix this? Her simple changes are Great. She can pick the correct lead up after about one stride of trot (and she does it balanced!). So I don't know if going back to those will help or not? Maybe going over a pole?

TIA!

Czar
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:40 PM
Maybe going over a pole?

TIA!

Yes. The pole will set her up a bit.

Do you have to kick her so hard b/c she is dropping her inside shoulder and falling out the side door with her outside haunch? Remember, counter bending is your friend.

Also, make sure you have the 2 most important components of lead changes..pace & straightness.

crazyhorses
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:48 PM
So by counter bending, do you mean bend the new direction or the one that I'm all ready going?

shawneeAcres
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:52 PM
A pole can help, but also can make a horse really anticipate the change. Make sure you use "escalation of aids", that is, first ask with the smallest aid you can, then ask with a strnger aid(kick), and then go to the strongest aid(whip). If you use this escalation, most horse will begin to make the association with the light aid to avoid the stronger aid. BUT if you ALWAYS use the strong aids FIRST they never get the opportunity to learn the soft aid

crazyhorses
Oct. 6, 2010, 01:58 PM
Thanks Shawnee, I do normally start with a light aid and then bump it up. She just seems to not respond to the light aids right now. If I just keep doing the light - strongest, will she eventually soften up? Maybe? Hopefully?

shawneeAcres
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:01 PM
ANother thing to make sure is that you have enough impulsion for her to get the change, impulsion does not equal speed however, work on getting hind end REALLY up underneath her before asking for the change, "bottle her energy up" then ask. Will make it easier for her.

SaturdayNightLive
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:02 PM
Maybe try using a leg yield to set her up? As you go across the diagonal yield a couple of strides toward the new rail (so if you're switching from right lead to left, leg yield to the right), then close your outside leg and ask for the change. I've found that using a little bit of leg yield can really help a horse learn how to shift their weight properly for the lead change.

FineAlready
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:11 PM
Maybe try using a leg yield to set her up? As you go across the diagonal yield a couple of strides toward the new rail (so if you're switching from right lead to left, leg yield to the right), then close your outside leg and ask for the change. I've found that using a little bit of leg yield can really help a horse learn how to shift their weight properly for the lead change.

Yes. And I would not be counterbending as Czar suggested (unless I am misunderstanding it). That sounds to me like trying to "throw" a horse onto the new lead by pulling his head to the outside. A lead change should not be some big event. Switch your aids for the new direction, and you should be able to get the change. So, as SaturdayNightLive mentions above, you should be using a fair amount of your "new" inside leg to set up for the change. Maybe not necessarily a leg yeild, per se, but you will want to switch the bend to the new direction as you approach the turn. Just like what you would do if you were changing directions at the trot.

findeight
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:35 PM
If you have to smack her to get her to move that rear end into the new lead? Getting it in front but sticking behind?

Pretty common. Not enough go going on there and her haunch is not properly engaged. Caused by going too slow and too much work in tiny rings-speed up and make sure you have enough leg to engage that haunch. Horse is used to the simple and is hanging up on you because it does not know to come forward...and that forward is what gets the back to join the program.

Don't fall into a circle immediately after the change, go straight. Don't slow down and try to "manufacture" or "overmanage". Do NOT drop your inside shoulder-step out and stay on the outside as you add that leg and let the horse go on a bit pace wise.

Horse has to be good at going straight
and coming freely forward or that hind is going to drag the change every time. Don't neglect that.

When you do miss behind? Keep GOING, resist the urge to pull up. Cross canter is not comfortable for either of you and, unless you take the impulsion away by pulling up? That horse will figure it out.

Have to be careful about pulling up every time you miss-horse thinks that's what you want or, worse, thinks they made a mistake when they did speed up a little-as they must when learning to get a clean change. Just step on the gas a little and don't let them associate changes with crisis or you will end up teaching them changes are to be dreaded.

crazyhorses
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:52 PM
Great thanks for all the input guys!

findeight - she normally does not miss behind, thankfully! Now when you say be careful about pulling up, you mean Don't stop, right? I normally continue on and then ask for a downward to the trot then up to the correct lead. She does have a tendancy to throw her head when she changes too.

Czar
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:07 PM
Sorry, I meant counterbending through the rib cage.

I would NOT leg yield over to the rail I was heading to. To me, this just encourages a horse to bulge the outside shoulder which means they are not going straight and you need straightness for a lead change.

Think of the mechanics...you are heading across the diagonal to the new direction. Your horse knows he is heading in the new direction so starts to put more weight on the inside shoulder...exactly what you DON'T want him to do as that's the shoulder he's got to get up and off to swap the lead.

A horse should get a lead change from back to front. When you are cantering across the diagonal before you switch, your horse's outside hind is leading which also means when you ask, you asking from the outside, in. If you are leg yielding your horse to the outside rail, you are pushing the inside NOT the outside which means you are not asking back to front.

I see this all the time..people fixating on the inside bend for a lead change and yanking on the inside rein. A horse is much more likely to get a lead change from a counter bend through the rib cage than they are from leg yielding from the inside over. The rein is the secondary tool in this equation...it's all about the leg.

It's really about straightness and understanding how the horse thinks. Most horses know when they head across the diagonal that they will be switching directions and their weight starts to shift onto that new lead even if they haven't changed it. You need to ask for a lead change before that weight change while your horse is still going straight but you need to make sure they are straight in the first place. Thus, the counterbend.

Big_Grey_hunter
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:11 PM
Yes. And I would not be counterbending as Czar suggested (unless I am misunderstanding it). That sounds to me like trying to "throw" a horse onto the new lead by pulling his head to the outside.

I have always learned counter bending as using a touch of outside rein to stop the shoulder from falling out (AKA bulging) and encourage straightness. Not really anything to do with the bend of the head or pulling them off balance. My horse needs alot of counter bending to stay straight through tight corners.

But every trainer uses different terminology, so I can't really speak for Czar :)

Czar
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:22 PM
you should be using a fair amount of your "new" inside leg to set up for the change. Maybe not necessarily a leg yeild, per se, but you will want to switch the bend to the new direction as you approach the turn.


See I disagree - especially on a young horse. I think if you change the bend to the way you are heading before you ask for a lead change than you are putting more weight on your horse's inside leg/shoulder which makes it harder to get it out from under them to do the change.

I guess if you were coming more from a circle and less from across the diagonal I can see how you would want to change to the new bend but essentially you would just be straightening out your horse since they would be coming across the center with their outside shoulder/haunch still from the previous direction.

findeight
Oct. 6, 2010, 03:27 PM
findeight - she normally does not miss behind, thankfully! Now when you say be careful about pulling up, you mean Don't stop, right? I normally continue on and then ask for a downward to the trot then up to the correct lead. She does have a tendancy to throw her head when she changes too.


OK, she is still a little green and, in order for the back end to drop and stay engaged, she NEEDS to raise that front end a little. IGNORE it. Maybe a little tense too, normal at this point and she could be anticipating a down transition coming up too.

I always like to continue the canter for a few laps on the new lead, establishes smoothness and allows the horse to learn to keep tha pace before, during and after that change. Break it up with other things too, they get bored and sour pretty quick. Do some circles, some extension and collection, change leads and do the same the other way.

I use to show the APHA circuit and had a wonderful Western Riding horse (a pattern class with multiple flying changes) that was quite succesful on the National level-actually something I never had much trouble with on any horse....I suck at other things but lead changes I can do.

Oh...word of warning here...if you plan on showing a horse in the Hunters or Eq? Do NOT ever change at X, right in the center. Hearing that more and more from better teachers and clinicians and I never gave it much thought before-but it makes sense not to drill changes at a specific spot.

Why, you might ask? You go down to a single oxer set on the diagonal past the center closer to the corner? They are going to swap at X because YOU taught them that was what you wanted.

Czar has some good points too.

FineAlready
Oct. 6, 2010, 04:12 PM
Okay, I actually think we might not be all that far apart on this Czar. I was envisioning something completely different than what you described. And I was actually also not thinking about cantering across the diagonal so much as I was thinking about landing from a jump going into a corner where you are setting up to actually go around the corner...if that makes sense.

Basically, I have always asked for a change by basically adjusting my aids to be appropriate for the new direction. Not so much focusing on the change itself, but rather on being in the appropriate balance for the new direction and then sort of asking for the change in much the same way that I would ask for an canter depart from a different gait. Not sure if that makes sense. I'm not the best at explaining this kind of thing.

This has always worked out very well for me, even with young/green horses. They don't ever seem to have trouble engaging their hind ends to get the change back to front, either.

SaturdayNightLive
Oct. 7, 2010, 12:03 AM
Meh, I've installed lead changes on many many young horses by starting with a leg yield. And yes, my changes are always back to front. ;) But, to each their own - as long as the end result is a clean and correct lead change, it makes no difference to me how anybody else gets there.

And I didn't bother to quote you Czar, but I don't yank on the inside rein. ;)

When you ask the horse to leg yield toward the new outside rail, you are mostly getting the horse to shift his weight toward the outside. Once that weight shift has occurred, you close the outside leg to ask for the lead change. I'm not advocating running through the corner with your horse falling through his inside shoulder - the opposite, in fact. Obviously you eventually no longer need the leg yield, but it is a great way to teach a young horse to rebalance BEFORE changing leads.

I hope I explained that in a way that makes sense...