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Spin-off: Teaching the auto-swap?

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  • Spin-off: Teaching the auto-swap?

    Another thread asking whether a small jr hunter should have an auto-swap installed impressed me deeply. These new-fangled gadgets weren't an option I had even heard of while I was a junior. Now that I'm old and own a broke horse with a standard transmission, I want one of these auto-swaps! I think he'd like it, too.

    How do you teach the auto-swap?

    Is is just a question of asking for the change with less and less aid until the horse "gets it" that a change always comes with a change of direction and not a request from his rider?

    Thanks!
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  • #2
    Pole

    I've taught it with a big "ASK" over a pole in the corner... well, basically a pole anywhere that you want them to learn to change. Big praise when they get it.
    Rural Property Specialist
    Keller Williams Realtors

    TexasEquestrianProperties.com
    Email Me for Horse Property!

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    • #3
      As I mentioned in the other thread, I'm not sure you can 'train in' an auto-swap. Generally, if you have a halfway intelligent horse that is nicely balanced naturally, and finds changing his leads to be no big athletic endeavor, he's going to start landing, anticipating the change before the corner, and setting himself up for it. Very few auto-swaps are truly automatic, I see mostly horses that anticipate the change and wait for any cue to do it, which can be simply the rider turning their head to look around the corner. On my horse all I had to do was lighten my inside hip and voila, change. I certainly called him automatic. Horses that demand a lot of set up to do their change easily or properly are probably not ever go to be auto-swappers, but could be worked with to the point that they have an "easy" change.

      Pretty sure I've spent more time training on an auto-changer to NOT change leads.
      EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by dags View Post
        Pretty sure I've spent more time training on an auto-changer to NOT change leads.
        HAHA! I've got one of those! :-) And I'm not looking forward to that challenge very much. He's so super smooth about the swap that I don't notice it for 2 strides. Can't wait until he's in regular work.... , maybe he'll just grow out of it.
        Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks you guys.

          I assumed that we all teach horses to change on request first, then ride them in a way that does everything but actually ask. With the horse with a change-on-request who is already in a balanced canter, I assume that means change the bend, perhaps leg-yield out gently for a couple of strides in the new direction (make sense?) and then actually ask if he hasn't offered the change yet. To get the auto-change, I'd just imagine repeating this pattern until he knew what was coming sooner in the progression. Does that sound right?

          Mine is lazy but used to taking direction. He'll do whatever you want-- change, hold the counter-lead, carry your purse for you. But you have to actually place the order.

          I assume the auto-swapper (well maybe not the super-smooth under the radar type) can be taught to counter canter pretty easily, just because you can use a "big aid" for that as you would with an unbalanced horse who needs real direction or help to hold the outside lead. Am I wrong?

          Forgive me for all the theorizing. I'm just a philosopher in a horse trainer suit.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat

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          • #6
            Honestly I think some horses just love to swap leads. Oh yes, I could contort my body enough to basically shoulder-in the canter and hold the counter, but the far bigger pain in my side was simply the long ride down the rail in the Eq. flat. One itsy-bitsy shift in weight, or incorrect tap of the outside rein (oh, I don't know why, maybe I kinda wanted to balance a bit?) and BAM. Lead change. Done.

            I got REALLY good at feeling where his weight was going and was eventually able to beat him to the change by grabbing the inside rein and throwing his balance back on his inside lead. The ENTIRE process took about .002 seconds, and occured approxiametely 2-3 times down the long side.

            That horse was banned from doing lead changes at any time other than a horse show for many months. As I said, I wouldn't train it in, they should always wait for the cue. Training them to automatically land and balance is a much more useful tool
            EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

            Comment


            • #7
              Every horse is different, but one thing I make sure to do on all the horses I work with is to teach them to only swap when you ask. I show my horse in the hunters and equitation and given that he needs to be able to counter canter on command, even in a corner, I don't want him always assuming he is to swap when on the wrong lead.

              That being said, some horses can learn after a jump from doing simple changes and then eventually linking the flying change. Others learn from doing figure 8s and changing in the middle - again starting with a simple before asking for a flying with or without a pole.

              My current horse I had to do the pole in the center or after the jump because he struggled w/ the concept at first. Once he started to figure it out, I then worked only on changes on a straight line to be sure he understood exactly what I was asking from him.

              Comment


              • #8
                My one guy did them and it was awful. He would jump and be more concerned about the lead change then he was about being balanced. This meant that we had some pretty ugly corners even though they were on the correct lead. Having said that he was a very smart horse and tried to anticipate everything you did with him.

                Sport now thinks diagonal across the ring means lead changes, counter canter is not something he figures out quickly, but after the jumps, coming into a corner he waits for his command and then neatly does a change.

                I don't think the horse should do the changes without a signal. I think they should be well enough trained though, that not a huge signal is required.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My lovely mare has "auto changes" in that she loooooves to do her changes and if we come cross the diagonal she does "wait" for me, but keeps asking, now, Mom, you want it now? No? How about now? Can I do it now?

                  She does "auto change" after a jump, usually before I even figure out we need one . . .

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Wow. Thanks for the range of opinion, especially on the downside of the "Here, let me do that for you" horse. I guess I'll keep my "silent waiter" type gelding who is there, ready to serve but must be asked.

                    He'd appreciate my smoothing out my aids, of course. That means he needs a "wake up" call that says "Usually there's a lead change involved when you land on the outside one. We'd get on better after the fence in a short ring if you kept this in mind (you cotton pickin' slacker)."
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Unless you are psychic and the horse able to read your mind, you cannot teach them to swap without being asked.

                      You can teach them to swap when very politely asked the first time they are asked instead of being visably and repeatedly told-and that is IF the rider sits square and is consistent.

                      They can and do learn to swap on their own over time and alot of courses because they have learned which way they will turn at the end of the line and do not need any rider input.

                      Try taking an "auto swap" type down the centerline with a flying change about every 5 strides staying on a straight line. That will show just how much they depend on knowing what's next and how they may not be all that attuned to the rider's aids.

                      Anyway, IF you are trying to sell one, the easier you can get that change to happen, the better even tho that "auto" is just because they always change there after the diagonal, not because they "know" what you want.
                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Mine auto swaps, and takes care to learn the arena for me. The first class of a show (hopefull a warm-up!) I may have to ask a bit (or sometimes, since I am so spoiled by him, we miss a change). After that, he knows the turns and lands correct or auto swaps the rest of the show. Fine with me, he is my old-lady hunter and we will always and forever do hunter courses. Love my Appie! Don't know how he got this way, other than that he is smart and helpful. He did his first changes on course at a schooling show as a five year old. We never practice them on the flat. We do a lot of other flatwork though.
                        Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I was the person who asked and when I was a kid, only ponies ever autoswapped.

                          Now I live in an area where if a horse does not autoswap, he is considered dog meat. I find it shocking.

                          However.. I am making up a horse to be *sold*. And so I need to know what markets the best.. that was why I asked. This horse will not be sold locally, so local trends are not important to me when considering what to do with this horse. But this is the first small junior I have ever made up and so I want to be sure I do what will be the most marketable.. not what I prefer, necessarily. As it stands, I have decided that he will be taught to do his changes when asked thank you all, for all the input.

                          FWIW, you can indeed teach a horse to autoswap. You teach the horse to do changes when you change bend. You make that change of direction more and more subtle until it's basically a head turn. Or.. you don't, you do what I call a local autoswap, which is you run them into the corner and fling them off balance and they swap I don't do that, I teach them to do them nice and balanced only when you change bend. Yes, the change of bend could be considered a cue, it really is. But it's one that monkeys can do

                          Does it limit them? IMO, absolutely. Should it be mandatory? Personally, I don't think so. But my personal opinions and likes/dislikes have nothing to do w/it when I am planning to sell a horse.
                          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                          ---
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                            Or.. you don't, you do what I call a local autoswap, which is you run them into the corner and fling them off balance and they swap I don't do that, I teach them to do them nice and balanced only when you change bend. Yes, the change of bend could be considered a cue, it really is. But it's one that monkeys can do
                            LOL the local autoswap. Partially why I was so excited to show Dan, who had a real lead change! No local autoswaps for us.

                            (and, off topic, but someday post some pics of your small junior! I want to see!)
                            We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FlashGordon View Post
                              LOL the local autoswap. Partially why I was so excited to show Dan, who had a real lead change! No local autoswaps for us.

                              (and, off topic, but someday post some pics of your small junior! I want to see!)

                              Tee hee, yes he did. I remember doing 3 tempi's all over the hay field on him once. Good times

                              Junior boy goes to his first horse show that I actually expect him to do something other than school next week so maybe I'll have some nice pics to share then... with any luck
                              "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                              ---
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Mine auto swaps. I think she is a creature of comfort, and just prefers to keep herself in balance wrt leads. I'm pretty sure she uses visual cues to figure out which way she is going, and "remembers" turns. I don't cue her. It's a beautiful thing, unless you do the eq and need a good counter canter! I did not "teach" her the lead change, I just kind of found it one day. It has a lot to do with balance and topline strength.
                                Man plans. God laughs.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by tidy rabbit View Post
                                  HAHA! I've got one of those! :-) And I'm not looking forward to that challenge very much. He's so super smooth about the swap that I don't notice it for 2 strides. Can't wait until he's in regular work.... , maybe he'll just grow out of it.
                                  I have one that just changes also, when you dont ask for it. Actually I have had two of them. I did ALOT of counter canter work, something like three times out of our six day work week, and they both learned (took about a month and 1/2) that it is ok to canter on the other lead w/o changing themselves because they think that it is wrong. They were both those horses that were like "hey let me help you out because I am on the wrong lead" and you're like "thanks....but not really because thats not what I want you to do". Thats why I feel the overly smart guys can sometimes be a pain

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Forget autoswap-- teach them to do the change over the jump and always land on the correct lead-- that's the superstar

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ImJumpin View Post
                                      Forget autoswap-- teach them to do the change over the jump and always land on the correct lead-- that's the superstar
                                      My kid already does that and always has.. but I am not sure that is 100% reliable if he has someone try him who does not pay attention to keeping him straight. Damn if I'm going to try it and see if he starts landing wrong
                                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                      ---
                                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by ImJumpin View Post
                                        Forget autoswap-- teach them to do the change over the jump and always land on the correct lead-- that's the superstar

                                        Well, damn, I had a superstar and never knew it. I had to ask for the lead in the air because she couldn't do a change. Ha!

                                        I feel like this is way easier than teaching flying changes. Am I odd in this thinking?

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