Ok…I got the right lead…now I want to turn left…
Ok…I got the right lead…now I want to turn left…….where’s the button for the left lead on this horse? Is it on the dash or the turn signal lever? And what is the symbol for left lead change?? Wouldn’t that be nice??
Horses are all about manual operations, so we need to know the proper programming language to share with the horse to get the desired response.
So you know leads??? And if you don’t, you need to start there first, and then come back to this lesson.
Horses are on the correct lead if they are correct in both their front and back pairs of legs.
Example: On the right lead when cantering, their right front and hind legs move further forward then their left fore and rear legs. So you not only need to get the change in front(which is generally pretty easy), you also need the change behind. That is the tricky part. Most often, I see an amateur or pro, galloping along to the right. Then they throw their own body weight and rein hand from right to left, and get a lead change in the horse’s front legs, but not always in the rear. This is usually because the rider did not engage the horse’s rear quarters or collect the horse prior to asking for the change. Some horses are just naturally good at changing both, regardless of the signals coming from the pilot. Those are the horses that I love to demonstrate on…they make us look good!!
So not only do you need to switch the horse’s frame from right to left, you should also collect the horse a tad just prior to the change. And when you ask for the change, you move your reins from right to left…and…you ask with your outside leg…or your right leg, along with your hand and shift of your body.
You should not have to throw your body a great deal, especially if you are using your legs in combination with your hand properly. Throwing your upper body too much and not using your leg and seat is the reason some horses tend to change in front and not the rear. Please note that in some cases, resistance to change leads or even pick up a lead may also be an indicator that your horse may be lame or sore. If your horse typically does changes beautifully and all of a sudden, they resist a lead or changes, there might be some soreness or lameness.
If you are not positive, ask your pro, trainer, or veterinarian.
You should also separate your commands for a good transition vs a good lead change. If you do not get a good transition(walk to canter), then come back to a walk and try again….but if your transition is good, but an incorrect lead or change, just come back to a trot, and then pick up your correct lead. Or even continue cantering and ask again for the correct lead change.
Lead changes are important because the horse is more balanced which makes them quicker getting back to the ball, which should hopefully mean you will also be quicker back to the ball. The correct lead is also easier on the horse as far as wear and tear. Some horses are very much one-sided and do not change from one lead to the other. You just need to be very patient. The good news is that most horses change naturally if they need to at greater speeds, with little or no direction from the rider.
If you watch them at play, they are usually pretty darn good at changes, rollbacks and circles. So the challenge lays in our ability to consistently apply the correct combination of signals to communicate the desired response.
A good way to start the process of learning how to do a flying lead change is to start with the exercise of figure 8 simple changes.
You pick up a lead on one half of the eight, and then when you arrive back at the center line of the eight, you straighten out the frame of the horse from what ever circle you are coming out of while you check back from the canter down to the trot, You then prepare the horse for the desired frame for the circle that they will next move in to. So if you were going right, as you come into the center line of your 8, you check, slow to a trot as you straighten their frame, then change the frame into the left, and then ask for the left lead.
This exercise will help you remain focused on first collecting, starightening and then changing the frame of the horse in preparation of the new lead. The simple changes brake down the various components over several strides to get the new lead, whereas the flying change demands that you apply all the directions within one single stride.
Being able to change leads is a lot of fun and very effective strategy. So if you are struggling some, look for professional guidance to give you the needed skill and clarity as how to do it properly.
They say change can be a little scary, but generally a good thing in life, so it is on top of a horse. I wish you a lot of changes in your life, the right lead to left lead kind of changes. That means you are on top of a horse. A great place to spend time.