Just thought I would share this case of "magic" because it has made me quite happy.
So I've got a 12h project pony who I adore. Jumps around, great transitions, great simple changes...but she hasn't ever been that great at flying changes. We tried them over a pole, we tried them over a jump, in the field, in the ring, with different riders, various transition exercises to strengthen her, advice from trainers, etc. She achieved only moderate success and usually had changes that were several strides late behind or not at all (with the occasional fabulous change in there).
Well pony has 3 months off this summer. I get back on her and start getting her back in shape...low and behold the pony has lead changes! I swear it's magic. Well not perfect magic, they are only back to front one direction, but the other direction she is soo close to getting it (it's my bad direction so i think its just me). It's such an easy change too, I barely change my leg and rein and she really lifts her back and swaps beautifully.
Happy day Now if only that would work for every horse...
I used to ride a pony with a similar issue. Lead changes weren't overly easy for him to do(just the way he was built conformationally) and his owner let him do simple changes for too long. So when she brought in several trainers, they all gave up on him because it was a lot of frustrating work and he liked to play games anyways. The owner tried one ast thing and it worked!She sent him to her retired trainer in LA. The pony got a month off then got ridden almost every day. Now that he's in constant work with a great trainer, his lead changes are nearly auto and he doesn't play games(ie bolting when bored) anymore! I thought it was just a pure miracle but I guess it happens for others too!
I've noticed with horses and people that sometimes drilling the same thing over and over can make them anxious and worried thus making the problem worse. Sometimes just giving them time off from the problem helps when you go to revisit the issue later. Their brain has had a chance to mull over it and make sense of it.
Your pony may also have been a little sore and stuck in the back, so the time off let the kinks out. I had a mare that was similar - drilled and drilled the lead changes, gave up on them for three months, and when I started asking her to do them again, she did them perfectly. It was such a nice feeling. Congrats!
I honestly believe that when given some time off, horses contemplate things. I like to give the young ones a week off after their first show or if they move up a level and get asked new questions. They almost always seem to come back with a bit of "I'm a big boy/girl now" attitude. Congrats on the changes.
Yeah people that drill changes over and over and over seem to create more problems. I always tried to avoid getting frustrated and drilling over and over because I knew that wouldn't be helpful. I try to keep it to a minimum and don't do changes every day. She's in decent shape now but I think I will give changes a rest for another couple of weeks and get her really fit before pressing it with the weak side. I definitely agree with yall that time to think things over really helps them out. Thanks!