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Lead change/intro to jumping advice? (long)

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  • Lead change/intro to jumping advice? (long)

    Hello, all. This is my first real post on COTH, so I hope I make at least a decent first impression.

    I'll give a little background information on this situation/horse before my questions. I've been riding a 10yr old paint gelding, Owen, since early April for his owner as well as one of her other horses on her farm. Prior to my riding him I understand that he had little to no work since at least November. He's been on the farm since he was 5 and was restarted very well with a trainer/rider they had. He is very balanced (though built a tiny bit downhill he isn't on his forehand) just a little rusty/unwilling at the beginning due to so much time off and having a bit of a "grumpy old man" attitude. The link below was from April and my first time cantering him. He was very out of shape and I'd been riding him maybe 3 weeks at the time, so he broke a few times and it wasn't the smoothest thing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFeskQosdOI - there is music so you may want to mute

    Since then he's come along really well. I believe he has jumped a bit in the past but never really trained for it/shown at all. I did a lot of cavaletti with him and worked up to crossrails/verticals with trot poles leading to it (2 or 3). My old trainer (James Geibel; rip) always had me doing grids when I rode with him, so that;s mainly what I've done with Owen. I usually set up a one stride trot in (crossrail) to a vertical and up to an oxer, the highest I've done was 2'6". I have done single jumps with him, and it's a little scary haha. I really have to find the spot for him or he will trip/stumble over it. So, I'm wondering should I continue to use grids to build hit fitness o/f then introduce him to single fences, or move away from grids and introduce him to single verticals/lines?

    I did a bit of line work with him today using poles on the ground. After a 3 times through we got into a nice rhythm and finished on a good note having gone through the line twice nicely both directions and having him come back quickly and willingly by the time we hit the corner. So should I continue with this and work up to making them crossrails/verticals?

    I was also wanting a bit of advice on lead changes. Back in probably May I started asking for a change from him and he got them, maybe after a circle or two, but he the full change. After about three weeks of schooling them he would only switch his front end, then, being unbalanced, he got very upset and would just get quick so I would have to bring him back to the trot. I didn't want him to get a habit of that, so I stopped them and worked on his flatwork and mainly his canter. I tried them again a month or so later having the same result, so I used a crop behind my outside leg as I asked and he got the change, but the crop upset him just as much as only getting the front change, so I couldn't really continue that, I didn't want him always running for changes. I have also tried over a pole, again, to only receive a front change. If I circle and give him a good poke with my outside spur he has gotten the hind change, but not every time and if he doesn't he just gets faster (as expected). So I'm not quite sure how to continue with them, or just not ask? I was kind of hoping to aim him towards the baby greens in '12, so he can still trot changes there, but I'd like to have them.

    I'm sorry this is so long! I'm kind of nervous posting here haha, but I just wanted some more help with him and I know a lot of you have very good advice to offer, I've been reading this forum for a long time and finally decided to join.

  • #2
    Is it because his haunch is swinging out? The horse I ride does that and wont get his lead behind, but if I go into a slight outside bend around the corners and really balance his haunch he will switch.

    I think what you are doing with his jumping is good, grid work is always good and he should start getting used to single fences/lines. I like your idea of having him get the rhythm over poles... maybe have a 5-6 stride line of poles and canter them a few times, then put them up as little crossrails and canter through (hopefully you would have a jump crew haha)

    I think he is super cute and as he gets more fit things will keep getting better!
    I WAS a proud member of the *I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday* clique..but now I am 30!!!!!!!!!!!
    My new blog about my Finger Lakes Finest:
    She Ain't No Small Potato!


    • #3
      Try pulling both reins back and to the outside while you ask with your outside leg by turning your toe out and digging in with the spur. Keep him organized before and after the lead change and he will probably get out of the habit of speeding up/getting mad once he knows you mean business. If this doesn't work, use the crop behind your outside leg and again, keep him organized before and after the change. If he speeds up, slow him right back down and continue on. He will learn that running is not the answer. If he is only getting half over the pole, I feel like this may be a fitness issue or you are letting his haunches swing out a lot. Strengthen his body by doing lots of bending and circles and make sure to keep him straight through the change. All horses are different in asking for leads, so it will just take some practice, time, and combinations of different ways of asking to figure out what works.

      As for the jumping, I would continue with your grid work. Try some different combinations gymnastic elements to keep his mind working. Work up to crossrails with take off poles placed appropriately, then move on to lines with verticals and oxers.

      Hope this helps!
      Professional hunter princess


      • #4
        Taking a que from my trainer, who hates when horses have been schooled into "lead change anxiety", keep schooling the simple changes until he is more balanced. Most horses can do a lead change, and you've seen him do it so you know he can, so keep him straight after the fence and plan on bringing him back to the walk/trot for a few strides. He's not doing a flying change for one of two reasons: 1) he doesn't understand what you're asking him to do and/or 2) he's not balanced enough to do it. Make sure he is balanced before asking for the other lead. Gradually reduce the number of strides of walk/trot before the next canter lead. Keep doing cavalletti and grids to improve his balance and fitness. You say that he's a little downhill, so work on rocking him back and making him figure out what to do with his hind legs. He is super cute!

        All this being said, maybe I'm making it up, but I see a little hitch in his trot, I notice it most when the rf,lh diagonal pair comes forward...I may be making it up but maybe he's got something going on in his hind end that makes it painful for him to rock back and gives him that "grumpy old man" attitude? Anyone else see this?


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by olivertwist96 View Post
          If he is only getting half over the pole, I feel like this may be a fitness issue or you are letting his haunches swing out a lot. Strengthen his body by doing lots of bending and circles and make sure to keep him straight through the change. All horses are different in asking for leads, so it will just take some practice, time, and combinations of different ways of asking to figure out what works.
          I was wondering if it might be fitness as well, and now that I think about it his haunch does swing. I'll work on correcting that and doing simple changes at first, thank you!

          Originally posted by wildhorse188 View Post
          All this being said, maybe I'm making it up, but I see a little hitch in his trot, I notice it most when the rf,lh diagonal pair comes forward...I may be making it up but maybe he's got something going on in his hind end that makes it painful for him to rock back and gives him that "grumpy old man" attitude? Anyone else see this?
          I should add that his attitude is on the ground only. He is very willing and eager to please (excluding leg yields/turn on the forehand/haunch - learning to accept those without fight right now) overall under saddle. He is grumpy but predictable on the ground, the same old tricks, a nudge whenever you walk in front of his face, nips when you curry his neck, he's done it since I started with him and from what I hear, always has, it's just him.

          I sort of see what you are, mainly the first part of the video going right? He does come out a little stiff usually, and works out of it within a few laps of the arena (that was the first time I rode him in the field, and he was unfit/unbalanced - could that have anything to do with what you're seeing?) If I walk him a bit longer than usual that tends to eliminate all stiffness and he starts out regular.

          I'll try to get a new flat video so you can look at something that isn't almost 6 months old.


          • #6
            I can't offer any training advice but I LOVE A PAINT!!!! He looks like my kind of boy!
            Little Star Chihuahua Rescue
            The Barkalicious Bakery
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            • #7
              On lead changes there is one thing that cannot be stressed enough... a horse can only physically do a complete flying lead change at one point in it's stride.

              Often I see people asking for the change when it is not possible for the horse, resulting in the inevitable front change only.

              At this point it would seem he is a little confused about the question you are asking. I would suggest reinforcing the change question with some physical logic to support his understanding of the question(horses generally change leads natural as part of a change of direction or to give the lead leg a break). Perhaps the easiest method is to canter down the center of the ring and to turn into the desired lead change rail, try to feel the lead side hip as an indicator of where his hind legs are at, and apply the change aids. The aids are reinforced by the direction change and it generally helps the horse to understand what is being asked, don't drill it.

              As well all your haunches-in, shoulder-in, etc. work will help to support his understanding of the aids concerning the change as what you are really saying when you apply the lead change aids is to bend around my inside leg without actually bending the body, as the only way a horse can truly accomplish this is to change leads. This is partially why horses have an easier time changing leads around a corner or during a turn; if balanced they naturally bend around your inside leg.