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  1. #1
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    Default Hunter lead changes -- "flat" vs "bouncy" ones

    It is a rainy dreary day, so I am stuck at my desk! Here is something I have been wondering about hunter lead changes.

    Personally, I love a "flat" lead change for lack of a better word. I much prefer them to the ones where the horse sort of bounces into them. I like it when the topline and rhythm stays the same. Does anyone else care about that?

    Just curious -- maybe a question for judges -- do you notice that in lead changes? Also, if the lead change is actually a bit front to back, does that hurt in hunters? See post #6 for the type of change I am talking about.

    Also, it seems to me, with my horses, the more I try to "set them up" for a change, they don't do them as nicely. What I mean is if I try to "make" them change, it doesn't work as well. What works for mine is keep coming forward, make sure they are straight, and time a little shift in my weight to their timing.
    Last edited by ToTheNines; Feb. 19, 2012 at 04:21 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Talking

    I am not a judge nor do I necessarily know what I am talking about, this is just my opinion so take it as you will.

    Personally I like the lead changes that involve more of a "bounce" as you put it. In my observations, those tend to be the ones that are more simultaneous as the horse has a moment of full suspension in which they swap their lead front and back at the same time. The "flat" lead change always looks like a swap to me. And there is a difference between a lead change and a lead swap. The flat changes look more unbalanced and on the forehand to me. Yes I know there are exceptions to this, and I'm not necessarily referring to the top rated hunters I'm more looking at this from a lower level standpoint (under 3'6). I would think and hope that a swap that was not simultaneous would be scored lower than a change that was simultaneous as a horse that has to change one before the other is not truly balanced and/or is not being asked correctly.

    This is one of the most beautiful hunter rounds i've ever seen and I pay attention more to the fact that his changes are smooth.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaKaLwvIOCg

    Just my two cents!
    Last edited by mustangsal85; Feb. 17, 2012 at 12:18 PM. Reason: added link to video
    "Lord if we should fall, my horse and I, please pick my horse up first."

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  3. #3
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    I would start by ensuring the horse's rear end drive train was as sound as possible. I had a hoppy horse, and the best method was to scissor my legs, move his shoulders out, haunches in a bit, and just wait for him to change himself, rather than poking him.
    Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design
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  4. #4
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    A BALANCED flat change is preferrable to one that disrupts the flow/pace.

    One doing a flat change incorrectly standing on it's nose looking like it's pedaling a bike behind and probably missing because of improper riding, bad conformation or soreness is just a bad change period. Should not be compared to the more Dressagy "bounce" out of a more collected canter.

    The Hunter moving freely forward on light contact maintaining balance should display a free and sort of flat looking change that does not disrupt the pace or draw any notice at all to it. That one will score higher then the bouncy change that is visible.

    That video is misleading because that particular horse has a bouncy kind of canter, the changes are exactly like each of his strides so there is no disruption. There is one change that is a little more up but it follows landing in a bit of a heap so he is trying to get reorganized-that was a deduction BTW.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

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  5. #5
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    Smooth and back to front is best.

    That said, I once had a hunter with beautiful, expressive back to front dressagey lead changes. Some judges really loved him and would pin him over super-smooth auto changer who might be a trifle faster in front than back, which you see a lot but is not technically correct. So I think it sometimes depends on who's watching. I don't have a video, his trips are all on VHS as this was a while ago. He was an expressive horse overall, though, and that had to be your cup of tea -- he either won or went home with nothing.



  6. #6
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    Great comments. Yes Rumba -- so lovely -- his topline never changes going around.

    fordtractor exactly what I am talking about. The "flat" change I am talking about is maybe just a little slow behind. I have one with that kind of lead change -- it is fun to watch and I think it is very pretty -- but your eye can follow his new inside hind as it swings way up under him and it may actually be a little slower than the front.

    Here is a video, sorry the best I have, only one change each way, but you can sort of see:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m30m...eature=channel
    friend of bar.ka



  7. #7
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    I always train mine to have dressagey back to front changes -- usually the "leap" into it goes away with time if they have one, but it is very hard to correct one that is slow behind once they learn how to do that.



  8. #8
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    You can have a flat and smooth lead change without being late behind. And that is better than an obvious bouncy lead change. A hunter should do a lead change with the minimum amount of effort. There should be nothing dramatic or airborne about it.

    Being late behind is being late behind it has nothing to do with the change being flat or bouncy. You can be all kinds of bouncy up front and still be late behind.

    eta: obviously, a bouncy lead change is better than none at all, but I thought that went without saying...



  9. #9
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    In my video in Post #6, wouldn't you say he is front to back? All I know is that if you try to "set up" his changes, he gets pissy and I think he goes around lovely as he is. Judges love him; his rhythm and "look" never change around the course. So I guess it does not hurt him one bit.
    Last edited by ToTheNines; Feb. 17, 2012 at 02:29 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Of course, no one is disputing that but in my opinion, the list goes

    (1) Perfect, back to front smooth change

    (2) "dressagey" back t front change

    (3) "bad huntery" front to back smooth change

    (4) bouncy change with legs in different directions

    (3) late change behind by several strides

    (4) no change

    (5) trot change

    I like the dressagey change as (2) because it usually becomes (1) with time and training. (3)s are hard to get to develop into (1)s without serious retraining as it is easy for them and they tend to revert when the pro gets off. (2) over (3) is disputable, however.

    I would say the (6) horse is late behind. It's very smooth, though and he's super cute so I doubt it will kill your chances! Lovely horse.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToTheNines View Post
    In my video in Post #6, wouldn't you say he is front to back?
    The first change is DEFINITELY late behind. The front changes first, then the period of suspension, then the hind changes.

    The second change, the view of the hind legs is blocked by the wall, so I can't be certain, but I think it is late too.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  12. #12
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    I forgot about this new video by lead change gurus, you might be interested:
    http://www.gohorseshow.com/ProductsP...?categoryID=35

    To the nines, if this is the horse you want to do the breed shows with, smooth will beat any head raise, tail pop, or change in frame every time, no mattr which end changes first.
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  13. #13
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    Unless you are doing the big A's or in stiff competition, in my opinion, the change is not going to be penalized whether its front to back or back to front as long as it looks smooth and there's no fuss. In schooling shows and low level rateds, a smooth change will win as long as the rest of the course is in place.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by fordtraktor View Post
    I always train mine to have dressagey back to front changes -- usually the "leap" into it goes away with time if they have one, but it is very hard to correct one that is slow behind once they learn how to do that.
    Same here when I was doing hunters/breed stuff. My QH was very dressagey in the changes naturally but got smooth and level in them pretty easily. He actually changed late in *front* if I wasn't careful, though! He also did up to two tempis just because I was having fun seeing what we could do.

    Quote Originally Posted by ToTheNines View Post
    In my video in Post #6, wouldn't you say he is front to back? All I know is that if you try to "set up" his changes, he gets pissy and I think he goes around lovely as he is. Judges love him; his rhythm and "look" never change around the course. So I guess it does not hurt him one bit.
    It depends on the competition. Changing late behind is a huge pet peeve of mine, and my horse who didn't change late behind never placed behind one who did.

    Quote Originally Posted by fordtraktor View Post
    Of course, no one is disputing that but in my opinion, the list goes

    (1) Perfect, back to front smooth change

    (2) "dressagey" back t front change

    (3) "bad huntery" front to back smooth change

    (4) bouncy change with legs in different directions

    (3) late change behind by several strides

    (4) no change

    (5) trot change

    I like the dressagey change as (2) because it usually becomes (1) with time and training. (3)s are hard to get to develop into (1)s without serious retraining as it is easy for them and they tend to revert when the pro gets off. (2) over (3) is disputable, however.

    I would say the (6) horse is late behind. It's very smooth, though and he's super cute so I doubt it will kill your chances! Lovely horse.
    The only difference is I would put landing on the correct lead every time first. Changes in direction which are necessary are an exception where the order above applies exactly as it is, of course.

    Of the world champions from APHA that I've seen from recent years in person, few did correct changes - so I'm guessing that won't affect the OP too much. (Assuming this is the APHA possible competitor - I don't pay enough attention to poster names, so could have missed a different breed show thread.)
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

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  15. #15
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    You guys are sharp -- I did have something about breed shows in my original post, but took it out. Seems like sometimes you mention breed shows on this forum and some people won't give you any credibility!

    But that's what got me thinking. I actually think I need a prettier lead change for the breed shows than the other shows I do.

    The horse in the video is a WB, but I do have an App and a QH. Yay for the AQHA for making their shows sound so much fun. Would love to send my trainer to do an AQHA derby, and I would love to do the masters/select hunters.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    The only difference is I would put landing on the correct lead every time first. Changes in direction which are necessary are an exception where the order above applies exactly as it is, of course.
    I've never met a judge who agrees with this. Landing on the lead is a crutch for when you don't have a good change, and asking for a horse to land on a certain lead can negatively impact the balance and symmetry of their jump. It can be fine, and it's not a problem if you can do it without messing up the jump of your horse, but it's not preferred.

    Landing (naturally) on the correct is in no way judged to be better than a clean, orderly, and no-nonsense lead change.



  17. #17
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    See, I never knew that back to front was the most acceptable form of a chance. I always thought that a simultaneous change was more desireable. Interesting! And I guess I should clarify my favoritism towards a "bouncy" change... I had a horse that almost felt like you were riding a half-attempted buck through a change, which would on video look like a disruption of rhythm. When I think of a "bouncy" change I guess I am thinking more of a dressage-y change with that suspension, yet still no disruption of flow and rhythm.

    I think I just have this image in my head of a "flat" change as a horse that comes off a fence and immediately swaps his front lead while at the same time managing to look like his inside shoulder is dropped and the length of his frame increases exponentially while he catches his back end up. Clearly I am not envisioning a correct "flat" change.
    "Lord if we should fall, my horse and I, please pick my horse up first."

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mustangsal85 View Post
    See, I never knew that back to front was the most acceptable form of a chance.
    I can not be simultaneous. Not physically possible.

    The sequence for a right lead canter is

    Left Hind
    Right Hind and Left Front together
    Right Front
    suspension
    Left Hind
    ...


    To change from right to left, there are two possible sequences

    1-back to front
    right lead
    suspension
    Left Hind
    Right Hind and Left Front together
    Right Front
    suspension
    Right Hind
    Left Hind and Right Front together
    Left Front
    suspension
    continue on left lead

    2 - front to back

    right lead
    suspension
    Left Hind
    Right Hind and Left Front together
    Right Front
    suspension
    Left Hind
    Right Hind and Right Front together
    Left Front
    suspension
    Right Hind
    Left Hind and Right Front together
    Left Front
    suspension
    continue on left lead

    In the first case, the back end is on the new lead first, and each full stride is on one lead.

    In the second case the front end changes first, and there is a stride in which the front end and back end are on different leads.

    The second case is severely penalized in dressage, but not a big deal in hunters.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  19. #19
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    I have to disagree with the suggestion that landing on the correct lead every time is bad. It's only bad if the rider is pulling, leaning or doing something to throw the horse on the correct lead or if it messes up the jump. I've never met a judge who thought landing on the correct lead meant that the horse didn't have a change. I've also never met a horse who could consistently do changes over the jump but not otherwise. Landing on the correct lead (provided the jump is smooth) is smoother than having to do a change.

    Also, when most people refer to a simultaneous change, since it isn't really simultaneous (as eloquently articulated by Janet), they mean that the horse changes from right/left lead to left/right lead in the same stride which starts with the the plant of the rear foot, thus, a "simultaneous" change means a full stride on the right (or left) lead, followed by a full stride on the left (or right) which means the rear changes first.



  20. #20
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    We had this discussion with a judge during a workshop session this past weekend. He said he would prefer to see a horse whose lead change is almost imperceptible as to one that is more animated. He also mentioned that a horse who lands its leads is going to be more rewarded in his eyes than one who has a showy change as it doesn't disrupt the flow of the hunter course.
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