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Swapping the back end?

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  • Swapping the back end?

    I'd like to hear some opinions on this- I have a pony who just recently started getting his changes consistantly. He's a greenie for sure, and is transitioning from pasture pet/western to hunters.

    At our most recent show, he started hopping and swapping his back end to the wrong lead... He's done this a few times at home, but only after he started doing lead changes. At the show he was a cross cantering fool, down lines, through the corners...

    I have the vet coming out today to check for any sort of pain, although he seems fine now at home. I'm also going to check saddle fit and see if maybe that's causing discomfort. However, if both of those are dead ends, what would you do next? Is this a training issue? A phase?

    Has anyone dealth with this?

  • #2
    Check his stifles first, then hocks.

    Is he fit? I once had a client's horse in the barn that was prone to this and it was stifle weakness -- he needed a regular fitness program and he was then fine. A few extra days off and you had to build him back up again, though.

    I have seen it a few times and it has always had an underlying strength/pain issue -- I would find it weird to be a training issue unless you are consistently doing something REALLY ODD with your inside leg which I doubt. Good luck figuring it out.


    • #3
      Yes, check all pain issues if that's a dead end it could be a balance issue for him. Is the same person riding him always when he does this? Is this person pretty balanced in their seat?
      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


      • #4
        After vet issues, my next question would be if the rider is doing too much with the hands. Sometimes a horse with a sensitive mouth will react to busy hands or a lack of straightness by stepping off the lead behind.


        • #5
          It's a straightness issue most likely. School him in lateral work at the trot and canter. Shoulder in at the canter will help quite a bit
          chaque pas est fait ensemble


          • #6
            Not to hijack the thread - but what would you think if the horse that hasn't yet learned lead changes was swapping in the back end when circling one the correct lead? Horse also does this ocassionally when being lunged w/ no rider. Should he be checked by the vet?


            • #7
              Yes he needs to be checked by a vet IMO. ESP if he is doing it with no rider to mess him up. If he is young you can sometimes say, well he is young and hasn't found his balance yet but it's always best to have a vet check it out.
              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


              • #8
                I agree with what a lot of people have already said. If it's not rider error (ie "fiddley hands"), he's most likely uncomfortable in his stifles or possibly his hocks.



                • #9
                  So, my horse has auto changes to the left, but not auto right. And every time we start working on flying changes exercises he gets his panties in a wad trying to get it done. After the first time we do a change or even ask for a change, he's all anticipation and offers like crazy, esp his auto side.

                  During courses, if I start asking for changes, instead of either letting him auto change the easy side or trot changing the hard side, he will often start hippity-hopping before the 2nd jump in a line, esp if there is a corner ahead OR we've gone through the exercise already and he thinks we're going to turn.

                  As soon as I ask for one change, he'll offer (doesn't mean he gets it) the rest of the ride. The only way I get him to stop is to be very clear with my inside leg that we are staying on a particular lead. Like OBVIOUS pressure. If he ever starts to hip-hop before a jump, I just put my inside leg on (cuz I've obviously left it dangling) and he stops. "ok mom, you want to keep this lead, got it"

                  My horse does not have any medical issues and I am a newbie to flying changes. He's all a SUPER awesome counter canterer, esp in corners! And would rather do that then give me a right lead change.
                  I wouldn't automatically say, get a vet.

                  He always swaps his hind before the front on both sides. He's a darn overachiever! My point is, your pony could be totally just overachieving and offering all over the place. And it could be rider error (you didn't mention rider level or lack of rider input as it turns out in my case.

                  Oh, and he's been known to swap down long sides of the area after we've worked on changes earlier in the week. Again, rider lack of input, 'yes we are staying on this lead'.

                  I would also suggest that maybe your pony doesn't really understand the cues for changes and thinks you're asking all the time.


                  • #10
                    I have a greenie that naturally did changes but swapped his hind leads back and forth every once and awhile. We believe he is an overachiever and worried about swapping. His previous owner may have rushed teaching him changes too fast. We went back to basics and took our time. For several months, we did not ask for changes, worked on straightness, and better communication. We gradually added changes. Now he does them perfectly with no swapping.


                    • #11
                      Just one more idea on the pain front, sacroilliac pain can also cause horses to lose their lead behind.

                      I also agree once you've ruled out pain, riders can affect a horse's balance which can cause swapping by being "handsy" or losing their own balance.


                      • #12
                        In terms of course of action, here's what I do:

                        If the horse is two-footing (aka bunny hopping) behind, where the hind feet want to move together, I go straight to the vet and suggest SI first.

                        If the horse is swapping off behind in both directions, I will change the rider first.

                        If the horse is swapping off behind in one direction more than the other, with multiple riders, or on the lounge with no rider up, I will go straight to the vet and be generally thinking back, SI, hocks, and stifles, any of which could be the culprit.

                        If the vet clears the horse, or the change of rider fixes the horse, then I'd address it from a training perspective.


                        • #13
                          my mare will swap behind when she needs to be adjusted in her hocks and stifles by the chiropractor, so I would rule that out first.