to Change Leads
© 2006 Cherry Hill
I have a question
on lead changes. What are the best cues to use in a circle.
I ride the nature trails not show but would like to learn a cue and stick to it.
Thanks for your time. Vicky
training should be a thorough and progressive set of lessons. Each lesson
is only as successful as the lessons that came before it. There are
a good number of goals you need to accomplish before attempting to train
your horse to lope on the correct lead or perform lead changes. If you
are ready for these lessons with your horse, the following information will help
you. If the instructions below are confusing, it probably means you would
benefit from lessons with a qualified riding instructor. Best of luck and
remember, it is better to do simple things well than to ride advanced maneuvers
in poor form.
Before I list the aids for a lead change,
I'd like to make a distinction between aids and cues.
A cue is a signal to a horse to perform something like a trick. If
you train your horse to kneel when you wiggle your finger, you are using a cue
to tell him what you want him to do.
In contrast, when you use your aids (seat, legs, upper body, hands, and
mind) to communicate with a horse when you ride, you are using a series of coordinated
body movement to get your horse to move in a particular way.
The aids for a lead change are the same on a straight line as when on a circle.
Even if you are on a circle, when you ask for a lead change, your horse's
body must be straight before, during, and after the change.
Before you attempt lead changes, your horse must lope on the correct lead
consistently and be able to strike off on the correct lead from a walk or
halt. The following is adapted from 101 Horsemanship and Equitation
Patterns available from www.horsekeeping.com
FOR FLYING CHANGE LEFT LEAD TO RIGHT LEAD, WESTERN
A flying change consists of a 3-point check, pre-positioning
aids, and the lead change itself.
Check: As you are preparing for a flying change from left to right, you need to
check three things.
- Be sure your horse is loping
a true 3 beat lope. If he is "four beating" he won't have enough impulsion
and his legs won't be in the right place at the right time for a change.
sure your horse's body is straight. It is much more difficult to get a clean,
prompt lead change if your horse's spine is curved.
sure your feel contact with your horse through the reins. You should be able to
further collect your horse by just moving your hand back an inch. And if you move
your hand forward an inch, he should stretch forward.
Now, with your horse loping on the left lead, move your reining hand over to the
left which applies a right neck rein on the horse. You are shifting the horse's
weight to his left side much like you do for a lope depart.
the same time, put your right leg on the horse to move him over to the left. When
you are loping on the left lead, your left seat bone is more forward than your
right seat bone. You can hold this pre-change positioning for 2-3 strides of lope
when practicing but eventually you want to hone it down to one stride.
Change: For the change itself, keep the horse straight and up on his left shoulder
so his right shoulder if "free" to change. You do this by maintaining
contact with the rein and a slight right neck rein.
- relax the pressure of your right leg that is
holding the horse to the left (this "invites" the horse to the right)
and move your right seat bone forward
apply your left leg behind the cinch to ask for the change just as you would for
a lope depart.
horse makes the change, you can initiate the new bend.