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How did you learn to feel diagonals, and canter leads?

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  • How did you learn to feel diagonals, and canter leads?

    I'm curious to hear what different methods trainers are using to teach their students to "feel" diagonals, and canter leads.

    How do you teach this to your students?

    or

    How did your trainer teach you this?


  • #2
    I learned during no reins, no stirrup lunge line lessons, started with the walk and feeling the hind legs saying "Now, now" when the inside hind leg came forward. After then we then moved on to canter, then trot. The purpose of the lunge line was so I could focus just on the hind legs and not worrying about steering and everything else. We kept practicing on the flat during lessons using the same approach, feeling the back legs.

    I had a trainer later who would have exercises periodically with a set of gymnastics down the middle and turn in the direction of the lead landed on after the final fence, and saying which lead you were on between each element of the gymnastic. The idea was to be able to be aware of leads during a course to improve flow and preparation for lead changes, we well as to improve ability to land the desired lead.

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    • #3
      practice

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      • #4
        Diagonals - trainer had me close my eyes.

        Leads - kind of a different story. I was still riding saddle seat when I started cantering, and the canter command in saddle seat is to angle horse's whole body with its head *toward* the rail, then strike off outside hind. To me, it was LOADS easier to learn to feel the lead this way and it's still what comes naturally to me.
        "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

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        • #5
          I started riding for real at 5, but started learning the basics on the ground first, learning about how a horse tracks etc., and progressing to how that translates to diagnols and leads.

          Once in the saddle it was all about "feeling" the hips move to time picking up or changing the diagnol and leads.

          I was never allowed to look down for diagnols which I believe really helped me to learn to feel movement, which, I believe to be one of the best lessons I have ever learned.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
            Diagonals - trainer had me close my eyes.

            Leads - kind of a different story. I was still riding saddle seat when I started cantering, and the canter command in saddle seat is to angle horse's whole body with its head *toward* the rail, then strike off outside hind. To me, it was LOADS easier to learn to feel the lead this way and it's still what comes naturally to me.
            Hunter trainer taught me that as well. Not so much the head towards to rail, we'd let them look in a bit but the body angle was the same, haunches off the rail and engage the outside hind. Works every time and always what I do when I tune on the lesson horses. I've explained it to kids on horses with difficult leads and presto they start getting a lot more accurate.

            I put my inside leg forward a bit as well, keep the shoulders on the rail. Some horses respond much better to the inside leg forward a hair than the outside leg back a bit. Either way, it's getting the horse's body lined up at the right angle that ensures you get the right lead.

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            • #7
              Just practice. I was taught to look and see if I was on the right one and over time you start to feel the difference. Sometimes my coach would tell us not to look and then we'd do transitions and she'd ask each of us if we were right or wrong.

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              • #8
                My mom started riding about a year after I did, maybe less. I was 7 when she told me about a lesson she'd had that day and feeling her leads. She said if you relax your legs your inside leg wants to move forward on its own. I had to practice a little, but now can feel it from my seat before the horse actually is in the canter.

                Diagonals are a different story... everything just feels "off" if I'm on the wrong diagonal. There was never a conscious attempt to feel them, but everything feels unbalanced if I'm wrong.
                Originally posted by Silverbridge
                If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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                • #9
                  My trainers tried their best, but I had to teach myself. They're not the ones riding for us, after all! I had to ignore the "rider is going forward with the outside leg" business for it to click - I taught myself that when the outside leg hits the ground, I'm sitting. For whatever reason, that defined movement of the impact going up the leg was easier for me to see and use than the idea of the leg going forward.
                  www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob

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                  • #10
                    I can't remember. I am sure I looked down for diagonals when I was first learning. Now it is easy for me to tell which diagonal or lead I am on. Maybe because I had a solid foundation in riding bareback?

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                    • #11
                      I'm embarrassed to say that I have a REALLY hard time with my diagonals and leads--even after 10ish years of riding (although the last five years have been really inconsistent). I just can't distinguish by feel what is off and on. I've had numerous trainers work with me on it, hopefully I'll get it one day! Leads come easier to me but not 100%

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                      • #12
                        Time. Ride long enough and you'll immediately just feel when you're off or when your horse is picking up the wrong lead. It really just takes years of riding for it to become automatic, give or take.

                        When I was first starting out my trainer do a session in each lesson in which I had to tell her at the walk and trot where each leg was with the beat. I never had problems with my diagonals, but after that I learned to feel them with my eyes closed because I knew where each leg was.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by theblondejumper View Post
                          I'm embarrassed to say that I have a REALLY hard time with my diagonals and leads--even after 10ish years of riding (although the last five years have been really inconsistent). I just can't distinguish by feel what is off and on. I've had numerous trainers work with me on it, hopefully I'll get it one day! Leads come easier to me but not 100%
                          do not worry, you are not the only one.
                          I spent about 10 years in France where I had lessons every week, and I knew my diagonals and canter lead no problems !
                          ( for the diagonals I was just taught to look down on the outside leg and to stand when the leg was up, to sit when the leg was down. For canter they taught us to start in a corner of the arena, to show us that with the horse bending, with the nose on the inside, you have better chance to get the right lead. the outside leg a little bit back. they would teach us from the walk and from the trot.)

                          when I moved here and got my own horse, my trainer was not there every day with me, plus my horse was an OTTB, so I spend lots of time on the ground. So I have to say that now, I can be a little bit off with my diagonals sometimes, canter lead is not a problem now I can feel when I am on the right lead, on the wrong lead it feels uncomfortable and uneven to me. But diagonals, I still don't feel the difference, I have to look down to make sure

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                          • #14
                            I ride two horses. One is very straight with good self carriage and lifting strides. It's actually harder to feel the correct diagonal on him rather than the other horse who is swishy footed wobbly and lazy- anything but the correct diagonal feels weird on him!
                            I've found now that if I feel like I have to peek, then I'm probably on the wrong one. The right lead and diagonal never make me feel like I have to check.
                            I was initially taught to rise when I could.see the outside shoulder. Later it became more of a feeling. I've had trainers ask and make me answer without looking a lot. Also, my current trainer will tell me to not begin posting until I'm sure i'm feeling and will be picking up the correct one. it may take some extra strides but it helps.

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                            • #15
                              Time. Tons of saddle time.

                              One day, waaaayyyy back when I was a junior, my friends and I were goofing around and wanted to see if we could feel leads and diagnols, and loe and behold, I discovered I could do it everytime.
                              The truth is always in the middle.

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                              • #16
                                I can feel my leads. I always know that I will pick up the wrong diagonal if I'm going clockwise and just sit a beat automatically.
                                I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by tamarak_equestrian View Post
                                  Just practice. I was taught to look and see if I was on the right one and over time you start to feel the difference. Sometimes my coach would tell us not to look and then we'd do transitions and she'd ask each of us if we were right or wrong.
                                  Same here. I was taught to look at the horse's shoulder to see if I was right or wrong. I was one of those kids that had a somewhat hard time seeing my diagonals - I could stare at that shoulder for a solid lap around the ring and still not know. One day I just "got it".

                                  As far as feeling it, I don't know how I learned that. Just time in the saddle. I was pretty lucky and got to ride several horses a day for years when I was a kid and teenager, and things like feelings diagonals and leads just became natural.

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