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  1. #1
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    Default Auto Changes: Genetics, Training or combo

    I have a new youngster and he has the most balanced natural canter of any horse I've ever owned. I really want him to have auto changes as its such a pretty picture in the hunters. I guess I wonder what others think about whether this natural balance is what makes the auto change possible or is it the training method when introducing changes. My current trainer has never trained a horse for me before so I don't know how good she is at training auto changes. I want to give him the best opportunity to do auto changes. Advice please.
    You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!



  2. #2
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    I think most, if not all horses can do a flying change on their own. For undersaddle changes, natural balance will help for sure and your horse may just automatically do them. Other times, setting up the horse proplery and allowing them to figure out the change is what does the trick. "training" changes can be difficult for a horse without natural balance, so definitely make sure if your horse isnt showing signs of wanting to swap, that you have him at a trainer who is going to not push him, rush him or scare him into it.

    I think I have the only thoroughbred in the world who wont fly change under tack. He has little natural balance, and even with setting him up proplery he wont do it on his own. The "training" has stressed him out, and he then became worried each time it was asked of him.

    Be glad your horse has balance, he should be able to get them well on his own. Go watch your trainer ride, and watch how she starts schooling them. Throwing her body around, whipping and galloping into a sharp turn in my opinion is not a good way of teaching them the change. The horses may get it this way, but they will develop anxiety and rush them.



  3. #3
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    I think its a combination of all of them. A lot of the horses out of my trainer's stud have really easy, natural changes from early on. But I bet a huge part of it is that they are all also very uphill, balanced horses.



  4. #4
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    If they can't do them on their own when at liberty, they will never be auto under saddle.

    I think, for the most part, the changes are either there or they aren't. Certainly an older horse who needs his hocks injected will have a hard time and likely cross-canter behind, but for the most part they either have the instinct or they don't.

    I once had a horse who was extremely balanced and cat-like--so much so that he could canter around on the counter lead all day and it didn't bother him. In three years of riding him, I never once was able to get him to change, and we tried just about everything. You either had to get the lead in the air or you didn't get it at all. He became a jumper and luckily that was his niche.
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.



  5. #5
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    do you mean flying changes, or do you mean auto changes? i actually think auto changes might not be such a good thing - i've been taught that you want the lead change to be your idea, not the horse's. particularly if you want to do tests that involve counter canter, etc., you want to decide the time and place your horse does a change.

    my horse didn't have a flying change at 4...he's 8 now and has the nicest change - doesn't rush, very fluid. every horse is different, but i think my horse benefitted from having a trainer who took it nice and slowly - if my horse offered the change in the baby green classes, great, and if not, my trainer did a simple change. no pressure.



  6. #6
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    Good point. My junior horse had auto changes, and while it was great in the hunters, I can't tell you how many tests I flubbed because she wouldn't keep the counter canter. We finally resorted to randomly counter cantering so that she could never guess which lead I wanted.

    In comparison, the horse I described earlier was fantastic for the eq, as long as you got the lead in the air. If you were supposed to counter canter in the test and got it in the air, he made you look like a genius.
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


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  7. #7
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    I am just looking for a super easy lead change. I want to signal it but I don't want it to be a big signal if you know what I mean. You know you've seen the horses with the super subtle change. I've had horses TBs and warmbloods in the past that needed significant work on their balance to get their changes. One TB was a little weak behind so I imagine that is what contributed to her issue. My last warmblood was a jumper so in the end I didn't fuss so much. My trainer doesn't flail at all. LOL. She is a good hunter rider and is very patient with my boy and has a talent for TBs which he is. He definitely flips his leads on the lunge line effortlessly so I hope he will be one of the super easy changers. Just would be nice to have one for once.
    You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!



  8. #8
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    This might be a little bit of spin-off question, but if some horses just never get it than how come almost every single racehorse I've seen has a change? Even just at the gallop around a track, I don't think I've ever heard of a horse racing who didn't swap. I could be completely wrong, I'm just curious.



  9. #9
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    First off, go search this forum for threads on teaching the changes, great advice in there.

    But in relation to your question, all horses should be able to do changes. It is what they do in the field. Trick under saddle is that they have to be able to figure out how to change with you on their back, the extra weight combined with your balance can make it difficult for them.
    IMO the change is a product of strength, balance and understanding.

    My 4.5 y/o DWBX cross has auto changes but if I need to I can stop her from swapping by watching how I shift my weight and keeping an eye on the bend. Having a horse with a natural swap is wonderful but you as the rider need to be able to recognize where the change should be.


    I never began teaching my mare changes until the beginning of this year. She had a whole year of light under saddle work before I even attempted one. After she understood the concept, she did it herself and would get cranky when I would ask. I always think it was mare talk for, "Pee off, I know what I am doing!"
    AND I repeat this every time I discuss changes...
    Always bring them back to a WALK rather than trot if you cannot get the lead, but I don't like teaching simple changes. This is a last resort for me.



    This is what I want to see before teaching a horse flying changes.
    - Solid walk to canter, (getting the correct lead 100% of the time, pending rider prepped correctly).
    - I like to see a decent canter-walk.
    - Good transitions, power coming from the haunches, rather than horse falling forward.
    - Transitions within the gate.
    - Turn on the forhand.

    These excercises will show me the horses strength and balance, along with their understanding of how to use their haunches.


    If you have this.... See 'Teaching Changes' thread.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rel6 View Post
    This might be a little bit of spin-off question, but if some horses just never get it than how come almost every single racehorse I've seen has a change? Even just at the gallop around a track, I don't think I've ever heard of a horse racing who didn't swap. I could be completely wrong, I'm just curious.
    Sometimes they lack the conformation to create a change-those can't run well either so would not be at the track earning their living. But if riders would stop micromanaging every canter step and not cram them down into a "frame"? Probably change pretty good if they have any kind of conformation and balance at all.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

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  11. #11
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    Greg Best said something interesting (to me) at my last clinic directed at another rider. He said if you ever want a good change on a horse, send them off to a western trainer. In the english world, everyone over thinks and micromanages the lead change, throwing their bodies around, while yanking the reins and kicking them over, and get the horse so stressed out and upset about it, you can't get a nice flowing change, where as in the western world, its a simple bump of the leg while on a loose rein.

    I personally thought that was rather interesting.

    As for the changing in the field vs. under saddle...I have a 5 year old OTTB that very rarely gets a clean change in teh field and will mainly change in front but not in the rear. However, under saddle she changes easily 85% of the time cleanly when I don't get all over her in her way and leap for the change. I've always assumed its because she's still unbalanced so I'm able to 'package" her just a little better under saddle.



  12. #12
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    The western approach has prettty much been my approach. Make sure they can carry themselves at a canter without you holding them together, make sure they are straight, get out of their way and bump.

    I have had plenty with auto changes and you do have to go back and "teach" the counter canter, but I would far rather encourage the flowing auto change first and then work on counter change second. You will lose a lot more classes without a smooth change then you ever will without the smoothest counter canter, especially if you are not in the eq classes.
    Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.



  13. #13
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    This is a really interesting thread and something I have been battling with. I have an OTTB that can change leads all day long in the field. Will do it going right to left but lord help me left to right.

    He has no injuries or arthritis, had a custom saddle fitting, etc.

    We have tried to pole in the corner, changes front 3 strides before the pole, kept him straight, done everything we could think of with no luck. Now put him in the jumper ring and he gets them all the time. Very odd.

    I wish I could figure out how to get him to do it, It would be nice to be able to play in the local hunter ring....
    Forrest Gump, 15, OTTB
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jumper_girl221 View Post
    Greg Best said something interesting (to me) at my last clinic directed at another rider. He said if you ever want a good change on a horse, send them off to a western trainer. In the english world, everyone over thinks and micromanages the lead change, throwing their bodies around, while yanking the reins and kicking them over, and get the horse so stressed out and upset about it, you can't get a nice flowing change, where as in the western world, its a simple bump of the leg while on a loose rein.

    I personally thought that was rather interesting.

    As for the changing in the field vs. under saddle...I have a 5 year old OTTB that very rarely gets a clean change in teh field and will mainly change in front but not in the rear. However, under saddle she changes easily 85% of the time cleanly when I don't get all over her in her way and leap for the change. I've always assumed its because she's still unbalanced so I'm able to 'package" her just a little better under saddle.
    Ditto this. I asked Greg about lead changes and got the same answer. I also have the same OTTB you do, however I get complete easy changes about 90% of the time. He RARELY (about 10% of the time) gets changes while being lunged/free lunged.

    I do almost exactly what Greg explained to me about western changes. I canter across the diagonal (I know some COMPLETELY disagree with this but it has worked wonders for me) with a nice forward "packaged" (horse carrying them self and balanced) canter and change the bend, re-balance, when the horse is light I ask, and voila! I get a very nice complete back to front swap.
    "Be the change you want to see in the world."
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rel6 View Post
    This might be a little bit of spin-off question, but if some horses just never get it than how come almost every single racehorse I've seen has a change? Even just at the gallop around a track, I don't think I've ever heard of a horse racing who didn't swap. I could be completely wrong, I'm just curious.
    I think it's easier at the gallop than a canter - more air time, and therefore simpler to change.

    My TB used to do one-tempis to fix his distance coming in to jumps as an eventer, and change leads any time a rider shifted weight at all. Someone at the track taught him changes in a totally no stress way! I think some OTTBs can get stressed about it because they think of changes as race time, and especially if they're in training to be hunters that's so different, their eager to please personalities may find it a challenge at first.


    Every western horse I've ridden (and some I've trained) had lead changes which would be considered correct footfall by dressage riders, though obviously not expressive and worth high scores in a dressage test. And as mentioned, it was a simple bump of the new outside leg to get the change. The one exception I had was my first horse who couldn't do a clean change in the field. The most unathletic horse I've ever known...
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

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  16. #16
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    yes, I think the "forward" is often lost in people worried about the change and you see them picking down to nothing trying to get the horse balanced, but instead taking away the momentum a green horse thinks he needs to get the change in a "new" way (i.e., with a rider). But if you let him realize he CAN get it with us on their backs doing our best impression of a slightly talented sack of potatoes (from their perspective), then you can craft a slower change. But I think a lot of people take their natural confidence away (to Greg's point) and then end up manufacturing a change instead of just capitalizing on something the horse already knew how to do... and jumping off from that point to refine it.
    Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rel6 View Post
    This might be a little bit of spin-off question, but if some horses just never get it than how come almost every single racehorse I've seen has a change? Even just at the gallop around a track, I don't think I've ever heard of a horse racing who didn't swap. I could be completely wrong, I'm just curious.
    Findeight had a good answer, but if you watch lots of races, you'll see lots of missed changes, especially in young ones. It's just that they are more than likely buried in mid-pack, so you don't see it clearly.

    There have been a few top racehorses who didn't or rarely changed coming down the stretch. IIRC, Alydar had some resistance swapping from left to right in the stretch. Funny Cide wasn't reliably swapping prior to the Derby--in fact I recall watching his last prep race before the Derby and I think he actually went around the far turn on the right lead. I went to You Tube to verify, but the video isn't clear enough to tell.
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


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