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To attempt the lead change or not?

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  • To attempt the lead change or not?

    Would like everyone's thought on this.

    I am taking my homebred 4 year old to his second show next week.

    He has been in jump training for a month and is a pro at jumping. Doesn't look at a thing and was born broke to the jumps, straight, slow, amazing.

    So..... The green part is his lead change. He has no motor, so of course across the diagonal going forward his lead changes are easy, but in a course he isn't 100 percent. It hasn't totally clicked yet, biggest issue is forward.

    He is green, has had minimal training, so I am certainly not expecting to win or go out and nail all my changes. He could win if the changes were there no doubt, but that's my dilemma.

    Would it be better to go for the changes and see or trot the changes?

    His first show 2 weeks ago I trotted the changes and his jumps were amazing, so like I said, the schooling needs to be the changes, not the jumps.

    I just don't know training wise, what will teach him more?

    Easy answer is keep him in training until he has the changes. But my dilemma is this is the last show of the season, and I have a new job next month, so he comes back home to my small dinky arena and no shows until Feb.

    Oh, and he is for sale so I have to get a show video!

  • #2
    I say trot changes for two reasons:

    1) I think it's better training wise. Let him focus on doing well in the show ring and being happy mentally, don't throw an attempted change in if he's not there yet.

    2) If you're doing a sale video, a clean, quick trot change on a 4yo will look 10x better than a messy attempted flying change.

    IMO, of course.


    • #3
      Originally posted by over the moon View Post
      I say trot changes for two reasons:

      1) I think it's better training wise. Let him focus on doing well in the show ring and being happy mentally, don't throw an attempted change in if he's not there yet.

      2) If you're doing a sale video, a clean, quick trot change on a 4yo will look 10x better than a messy attempted flying change.

      IMO, of course.
      Disagree with this for both reasons. (Ha!).

      1. I want a young horse to know that a lead change is expected in the show ring from the start. If they cross-canter a few steps, so be it, but I don't think you should ever be instilling to them that they can break.

      2. For a sale video, I'd rather see a 4-year-old attempt a flying change than do a trot change. A trot change would make me question if the horse even has a clue or if changes have been introduced. I think even a missed attempted change can show enough about a young horse—you can figure out pretty quick if the lightbulb is on or not. A trot change doesn't tell you that.


      • Original Poster

        I know he will eventually "get" it. He does have a natural change, it is just harnessing that change after a jump in a straight line.

        It's one of those things, like two days ago he nailed all of his changes, and today he was all over the place. Baby stuff, nothing to be alarmed about just lazy and not setting up properly.

        He does not get worried jumping and he could jump the baby green course with his eyes closed.

        My goal is to school veRy minimal in hopes he will be a tad fresh, class starts at 8 so maybe if there's a little coolness in the air, I can harness that energy for the change!

        The other day he actually changed in a straight line on the rail, so I know he is starting to get it, the little turd!


        • Original Poster

          Any other Opinions?


          • #6
            I am going to chime in and second that as a buyer I'd prefer to see attempted changes. Since the horse is a green 4yo not having them finished is not expected but I would prefer to see them started.

            That said, see how he feels that day. Since you are not worried about him getting flustered I would say try it. If he does not have enough motor for the changes get a nice simple change. If he feels more up go for it.


            • #7
              I would try the changes in the class, at worst you don't get them. At best you get them and you have video. You aren't going to ruin him or undo any training by trying if you try smart, that's how you get lead changes. You try to do them.

              What I wouldn't do is drill them or do them at all when schooling in the ring the night before (morning of?). Work on straightness and coming back to a halt and then picking up the lead on the trouble lines (and as you said, not getting him too tired) - do this even if he lands on the correct lead. If you are trying to set yourself up for success on show day you want to instill straightness and an idea that he needs to get back on his hind end after the line of jumps. Chances are he will give you the lead change until he gets tired or starts anticipating after a couple times down that line ("left, I know we are going left! I got it, mom!" ... Not that I haven't starred in that movie or anything), and then you have to be careful about how you respond. But if you get 1 or 2 trips taped before that, then you can school him in the ring or end on a good note.
              Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


              • #8
                I also would want to see the attempted changes, because I want to see what he does if he misses it. Does he kick out? Buck? Does he calmly swap behind a few steps later? That would be important to me.


                • #9
                  Personally I would try to land the leads (by staying balanced and looking in the direction I wanted to go, NOT by leaning/pulling/hanging off the side) with a Plan B consisting of trying to get the changes if possible in the event that he lands on the counter lead.

                  If the horse got at all flustered about things during the course, Plan C would be to drop back to a quiet simple change and proceed from there.
                  We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                  • #10
                    If you have 3 o/f I would do as Lucassb suggests and try to land the leads and set up for a flying change in the first 2 o/f classes. In the third o/f I would plan to do very neat simple changes. That way, you have a chance to school whatever "happens" in the first two o/f, and if you get craziness in the first 2 o/f rounds you still have one good video of a round, albeit one with simple changes.

                    I have to think, I bought a green young horse not too long ago. Albeit probably in a lower price point and certainly less far along. I really don't think I would have cared either way about a show round with/without changes as long as the sale video showed, at SOME POINT, the horse doing both of them. On a 4 year old, all I need to know is that the propensity is there. I don't expect it to be solidified over fences yet. I think I'd be just as satisfied to see a video that showed flatwork including changes or changes "at home" after jumping a single followed by footage of jumping at a show with simple changes as I would be to see jumping at a show with some changes and some not. What would turn me off would be to see show footage that looked like steps were skipped. So I guess video and see what it looks like and then decide what to use.
                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                    • #11
                      My personal approach would be that if the horse lands and is balanced and forward and feels good, maybe try the change. If the horse lands and is less than balanced/together, then do an organized simple change and continue on. The last thing I would want to do is to fluster the horse over the lead change and end up with an awkward jump. Especially since he's only been jumping a month, I'd go out of my way to make sure that the show was a good experience and that he learned to be organized and well behaved in the show ring. I don't think that simple changes teach horses to break at all. Instead, trotting lead changes gives your horse a chance to think about what he's doing and work on straightness and patience with his changes. Simple changes also teach your horse to reorganize at the end of a line of jumps, also a very good thing to learn.

                      Training wise, I think it is better to trot the changes. If I were showing a sales horse, I might push it and go for the changes, or maybe demonstrate one change but then do the rest simple changes. Rushing changes can create a lot of issues. As a buyer I'd rather buy a horse that did simple changes in the show ring but could school a pleasant change at home than a horse that had developed some anxiety or disobedience over changes in the show ring.


                      • Original Poster

                        I am lucky in the fact that he doesn't get flustered with jumping or with the changes. If he has the energy that day he gets them and if he is feeling lazy he doesn't. It's that simple!

                        Now landing the lead would be ideal and if I was more on point it would be no issue.

                        I haven't jumped in ages and while I showed as a junior successfully and as an assistant trainer for a while, it's been years and I am a tad rusty and out of shape. I have done all the training on him and would like to keep doing so, otherwise I would have just let someone else show him!

                        My biggest step is to figure out how to keep his energy and if I can do that I think the lead changes can be decent.

                        He doesn't worry about them, in fact when he is on his game he will set himself up and get it with not much effort on my part. When he is tired, well a fire up his butt would do no good.

                        I am in no hurry to perfect his changes and I know he is doing quite well for 3 weeks of jumping undersaddle, I just want to give him the chance to get the changes.


                        • #13
                          With my green horse I ignored the lead changes, mostly because I was a nervous wreck. I just looked in my new direction and turned thataway. If I felt like I was on the wrong lead I did a simple or trotted into the lines.

                          Imagine my surprise when I counted lead changes galore in the video. So I would land, turn, and if you feel he's on the wrong lead fix it if not don't think about it.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tha Ridge View Post

                            1. I want a young horse to know that a lead change is expected in the show ring from the start. If they cross-canter a few steps, so be it, but I don't think you should ever be instilling to them that they can break.

                            2. For a sale video, I'd rather see a 4-year-old attempt a flying change than do a trot change. A trot change would make me question if the horse even has a clue or if changes have been introduced. I think even a missed attempted change can show enough about a young horse—you can figure out pretty quick if the lightbulb is on or not. A trot change doesn't tell you that.
                            I agree with this post. Don't make a fuss over the changes but definitely insist that your horse doesnt break. In the beginning my mare would sometimes counter canter and sometimes skip the change behind. She didn't like to cross canter. Important part is to not be anxious about it. Just keep going forward.
                            You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!


                            • #15
                              Agree with those who say ask for it. I was never a fan of teaching a simple change before flying changes.
                              I find with horses if you reward/teach them for coming back to trot to get the lead and then later try to teach the flying change it is very confusing.
                              I always think of it as trying to write with your left hand when you have written with your right so so long.

                              It just seems simpler to ask for it, if they can't get a clean change or a change at all use the trot as the correction rather than the first step. That way they learn what is expected and make a big deal about it when they do get it right.

                              Regarding sales vid... I rather see the attempt at a change before a simple change but that is just my opinion.

                              Good Luck at the show.


                              • #16
                                I think there is a big difference between a transition to a trot followed by a transition to the canter (a simple change) and breaking. One shows obedience the other does not. Many young horses are just not ready to swap leads for a wide variety of reasons. Ride straight and balanced, do what you think is right for your horse. Good luck!!


                                • Original Poster

                                  I practiced landing leads today and he was actually great at it. Luckily he doesn't prefer one lead to another.

                                  I am much more comfortable on the left lead so that is the change I can get much easier.

                                  We also got a few changes, what I find is if it is off a shorter turn I can't get enough forward motion to get a clean change. He struggles a bit on those. He does try, it's just one of those things that take time!

                                  He is progressing nicely, we will just see what I have at the show!


                                  • #18
                                    I have two horses that are polar opposites. I would do the trot change with my nervous guy because he gets too flustered, and it would spoil his concentration. My other one is lazy and not very bright. He needs to know that when he is out there he must stay cantering and is not allowed to break.

                                    So, two different rides, two different approaches. Do what you think would work best for that horse.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I think he understands the lead changes, sometime his body just doesn't cooperate. He is 4 and still growing, so I am hoping as he matures they will get easier and easier.

                                      He is all legs so I am sure it is hard to coordinate where they are going all the time!

                                      I only ask for a couple when I hack and if he gets them I don't ask anymore. I don't want to get him pissy about them!


                                      • #20
                                        No matter what you do, make sure you follow up the show video with footage of the horse doing changes. I wouldn't mind a 4 year old not getting them in the show ring, but would feel much better if I could see them being done successfully somewhere, even if it's home.
                                        Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                                        Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"