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Why is swapping penalized?

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  • Why is swapping penalized?

    I just had this thought while watching the PA National live feed. I've known for as long as I can remember that it's a no-no to swap in front of a jump but I don't think it was ever explained to me and I don't know that I was ever curious enough to ask. Is it because it shows a lack of balance and/or straightness? I always have thought of lead changes as something you need to be balanced and straight in order to do, so that doesn't really make sense to me. Is it because it just doesn't look as smooth as a horse that keeps his lead? Or is there some other reason I'm missing? I'm obviously talking about a horse that does a full swap here, not one that swaps in front only on the approach to a jump.
    My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!
    http://www.youtube.com/kheit86

  • #2
    I would say it's because a well trained horse keeps the lead you ask for until you ask for a change just like he should keep the gait and speed you ask for. Horse should be able to jump from either lead.

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    • #3
      What Scribbler said.

      I've had a trainer also say it can be a sign of anxiety and/or weakness, like the horse wants to swap to his stronger lead if one is weaker or is worried about the distance.
      "Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"

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      • #4
        The swap represents a change in balance or straightness and the horse should maintain both until directed to do otherwise. If uncalled for, the rider should be penalized for influencing the horse to do so.

        A swap is also a way for a canny horse to give himself more room at the base of a jump if he finds the distance to be a challenge. That can be self-preservation if the rider has straight up missed or, as JBCool says, it can expose an asymmetry in his way of going.
        "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

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        • #5
          It can often be considered a sign of a soundness issue.

          Also, it indicates a deviation from a straight line from one side of the jump to the other. If you think of the roots of the sport in the hunt field, you would not want to shift sideways in front of the jump, in case there are other horses next to you or coming up from behind you. Granted, the sport has evolved a long way from the hunt field. But some of the basic principles remain the same.

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          • #6
            What MHM said.....and in equ it shows a loss of control of the track
            "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
            carolprudm

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            • #7
              I always found it interesting that the ability to preform a flying lead chance generally means the horse is balanced, but in a perfect hunter round there would be no changes at all - only over fences.

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              • #8
                I think it indicates a soundness problem or weakness. You also would not want to reward the horse who does not stay straight and rhythmic to a fence.

                But I agree with others as well. The ideal course would never have a flying change, but have the horse so straight and supple that he'd simply land on the correct lead. In addition, you really would not want to ride a horse that made any kind of big move, not even sideways to change leads, before the fence, so the small deviation in an autochange before the fences also is not ideal.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat

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                • #9
                  HU123 listing swapping leads in a line or in front of a jump a fault (I'm sure you know that).

                  Horses that swap typically swap to their stronger side for more power or umph, especially over larger jumps. OVer smaller they shouldn't have to- but I digress. Why is it a fault?

                  I think the above posters hit it well. It could represent a soundness issue, or balance but more important in hunters- it does not make necessarily for a smooth and seamless round, unlike changing in the corners.
                  Come to the dark side, we have cookies

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by StormyDay View Post
                    I always found it interesting that the ability to preform a flying lead chance generally means the horse is balanced, but in a perfect hunter round there would be no changes at all - only over fences.
                    Yes. Hence Tori Colvin's perfect score at Upperville. She often lands her leads.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by StormyDay View Post
                      I always found it interesting that the ability to preform a flying lead chance generally means the horse is balanced, but in a perfect hunter round there would be no changes at all - only over fences.
                      This is kind of where I was coming from. All of these reasons make sense to me, but kind of don't at the same time. I guess that's the world of Hunters for you
                      My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!
                      http://www.youtube.com/kheit86

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by To the MAX View Post

                        This is kind of where I was coming from. All of these reasons make sense to me, but kind of don't at the same time. I guess that's the world of Hunters for you
                        Well.... that's not the world of hunters for me. I get why landing on the right lead is better than a flying change, and why a flying change before a fence or in a line is worse. What don't you understand such that the whole world of hunters looks capricious to you?
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Soaponarope View Post

                          Yes. Hence Tori Colvin's perfect score at Upperville. She often lands her leads.
                          For awhile there the trend was judges wanted to see the lead but then the timing had to be just so.. i.e. late change, early change vs "perfect" change so back to lead landing.

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                          • #14
                            My horse will swap before a fence if he is anxious or lacking confidence about a particular fence. If I keep my leg on, support him, keep him straight, and in front of the leg, then he doesn't do it. So basically, if I do my job, it doesn't happen.

                            So in my eyes, it is correct that it is considered a penalty, because there are most definitely cases where it happens due to rider error.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by gottagrey View Post

                              For awhile there the trend was judges wanted to see the lead but then the timing had to be just so.. i.e. late change, early change vs "perfect" change so back to lead landing.
                              I have not noticed any preference among judges for landing on the leads. In my mind, a smooth change is just as good as landing on the lead in the first place. The score is affected only if the lead change is rough or late.

                              If a horse does not have a good and reliable lead change, then it would be a smart strategy to land on the leads. But then there is the risk of pulling the horse off the lead in front of the jump, creating the swap, or changing the horse’s jumping style in a bad way.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by StormyDay View Post
                                I always found it interesting that the ability to preform a flying lead chance generally means the horse is balanced, but in a perfect hunter round there would be no changes at all - only over fences.
                                That's not exactly true. What will penalize a horse is swapping down a line, right at the jump, or not changing leads properly. 1000's of horses win every day doing lead changes in the corners

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by kirbydog View Post

                                  That's not exactly true. What will penalize a horse is swapping down a line, right at the jump, or not changing leads properly. 1000's of horses win every day doing lead changes in the corners
                                  I’m not saying they don’t win ever, but if you watch the indoors and finals classes you see that the majority of the time those with very high scores only do lead changes if the course absolutely calls for it.
                                  there is a big difference between local competition and the really big national classes in what constitutes a winning round.

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                                  • #18
                                    That's because it shows better balance; not one sidedness. If you watch or ride enough hunters, you will see that many horses have a clear preference for one lead or the other. A horse that lands on the (for example) left lead 99% of the time is showing a weakness or lack of balance. A horse that lands on the leads shows equal balance. But at the end of the day, the trip over all is what is judged. I have a very nice horse in my program that routinely lands his left lead. If he holds his leads to the jumps, he is rewarded; he was in the top 10 ribbons in 2 classes at Junior Hunter Finals. If he swaps off, not so much
                                    Don't be fooled by landing the leads, either! I have known MANY horses that you can easily land the leads on, which was a good thing, because they were bad lead changers! Pro's and good junior/amateur riders could win on them, but not Joe average

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by mvp View Post

                                      Well.... that's not the world of hunters for me. I get why landing on the right lead is better than a flying change, and why a flying change before a fence or in a line is worse. What don't you understand such that the whole world of hunters looks capricious to you?
                                      Well, I was joking with that comment, hence the multiple laughing/winking emojis. Don't get me wrong here, I have been riding hunters for my entire life (obviously not on a very high level, but nonetheless..) and my goal is to have a fancy A/O hunter one day - one that doesn't swap before the jumps . It's just a funny juxtaposition to say it's a fault because it shows a weakness in a horse, but it's a movement that actually requires a lot of balance and training in other disciplines.

                                      I do appreciate everyone's responses. Kind of confirms what I was thinking in my OP. It does help to kind of flesh out the idea a little more.
                                      My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!
                                      http://www.youtube.com/kheit86

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by To the MAX View Post

                                        It's just a funny juxtaposition to say it's a fault because it shows a weakness in a horse, but it's a movement that actually requires a lot of balance and training in other disciplines.
                                        But it's not a juxtaposition at all. Though the actual movement - the change of lead - may be the same, it is happening for two entirely different reasons when it's a swap before a jump versus a properly executed lead change.

                                        You CAN have one movement be both a weakness in one case and be properly executed in another. My mare can execute a helluva "leg yield" when she's spooking away from the scary corner. In that moment though, it's entirely inappropriate, and no matter how much it looks like a lovely leg yield, and it is a sign of her inattentiveness to me as well as a disrespect of the inside leg.

                                        The swap in front of a jump generally happens because of the horse falling off the aids in some way. A swap is not a lead change. It's a horse falling off his lead due to imbalance, weakness, spookiness, soreness, distance imperfections, anxiety, etc. A better comparison would be a horse that spooks so strongly to one side that he changes his lead. That's not a true lead change either. That was a spook, a disobedience, that resulted in falling off the lead, which he happened to be athletic enough to do with a flying change.

                                        In contrast, a true, properly executed lead change is the result of a horse staying on the aids, holding one lead until the moment that the *rider* requests him to execute a change of lead. It isn't done at the will of the horse, it isn't done because he loses his balance, it's done at a specific time and after a specific set of aids that request him to change his balance, bend and lead accordingly.

                                        The most proficient demonstration of a horse staying perfectly in balance and on the aids in a course is one who lands the lead (not because the rider has forced the balance that way, but because the horse's balance and suppleness yields it). Tracking right on the straightaway the horse is so properly soft to the inside while carrying himself straight and solid in the outside rein that he maintains that over the jump and continues on the same right lead. Or in the case of a diagonal, the rider has so prepared him for this change of direction with the change of bend and balance that he will land on the left lead because his body has so accordingly been adjusted to the new direction. Go watch the big eq finals on USEF Network right now. You can actually see this shift in bend and the suppleness it requires in the good eq horses.

                                        The second most proficient demonstration of a horse's way of going is showing that though the horse wasn't able to maintain the lead and instead landed on the incorrect lead, he is soft and rideable enough to then demonstrate a proper lead change to the correct lead at the proper moment.

                                        The scenario that demonstrates no proficiency whatsoever is a swap in front of a jump, which is a direct result of the horse falling *off* the aids rather than staying on them. It is a fault because it represents a horse falling off the aids or a rider who hasn't properly kept the horse on the aids all the way to the base of the jump.
                                        Jennifer Baas
                                        It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

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