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chino is neato007

Flying Lead Changes

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My 9 YO's training got put on hold a few years ago, but I'm ready to pick it up.

I've since lost contact with the trainer who helped me start her, so I'm compiling a lot of opinions and training methods so I can create my own.

My mare is very responsive to legs and the reins on her neck. She consistently picks up the correct lead when loping in a circle, but I'd like to have her switch automatically without breaking gait when I'm doing a figure-8, for example.

I'd love to hear how you teach your horse to do it, including what prior skills your horse should have before trying it.

Thanks!

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first im gonna assume that ur horse knows his/her lateral work so u can control the hips

i always started on a simple figure 8 with simple changes. I break down the the trot for a couple of strides, put my horse in the correct position then ask him to pick up the other lead. When he is doing good at a couple of trot strides down the number of strides one my one. The secret is to make sure u r giving him the correct aides n putting him in a good position for it. by lessening the number of strides he gets better n better until bam u will do a flying change for u.

I find that if u cant or dont know how to put in the correct position to help him out or is he dont know his lateral aides or is u rush i u end up with one of them really nasty lead changes where u r throwing ur weight around n banging on his mouth to get him to change which results in lifted head, hollowed back, cross cantering, him hitting his own legs, alot of resistance, and again a very nasty lead change

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You first need to be able to control the hips at all gaits. Stop, back, walk, trot and canter. You should be able to slide your leg back and push her hips to one side or the other for as many strides as you need to.

Then, doing a figure 8, canter to the center on left lead, holding the horse's position. Stop horse, back up pushing the hips to the right, horse bent with arc to the right. Move forward holding position, the canter off on right lead.

This is an exercise that needs to become routine and easy, and done anywhere in the arena, not just the center. Eventually you should be able to just change the positions while cantering and horse will switch.

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I, too, have been working lately on getting my horse to learn flying changes at the canter. I have been using the method described above.....cantering on a figure 8 and coming to the middle, 2-3 trot strides, and then cantering off on the opposite lead. But, there are a few ways to teach a horse to do this. I saw Craig Cameron on RFD-TV teaching a clinic an easy way to do flying changes. He set up a pole in the middle of the arena. The rider askes the horse to canter one half of the figure 8, come to the middle, horse "jumps" over the pole and at that instant that the horse is jumping.....rider asks for the canter in the opposite direction. It looked foolproof when all the riders did it perfectly the first time. If your horse has problems "getting" it doing the simple change method, try the pole method. [Jump]

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Skill required

collection

body control, including hips , shoulder and ribs

ability to pick up either lead form a standstill

Lateral work

Definition of flying lead changes-simplified., as told to me by a World champion western rider

"flying lead changes are no more than a series of opposite lead departures, without breaking gait"

There are many methods. I've tried the few trotting steps, but now prefer to skip those, as you often will get ahorse that wants to break, even if it is just one stride

Leads start in the back. If you get the correct lead in back, you will get the correct lead in front.

Thus, for a lead departure, you move hip into lead, and keep inside shoulder up with inside rein. Inside leg is off 'to open the door', and you push horse up into the lope with outside leg, having him keep form

I don't teach lead changes in a figure 8, as I don't want a horse to associate direction change with a lead change

Thus, I will half pass them in both directions at the trot. Once they are good at that, I half pass them at the lope-first in the direction of the lead I'm on, then in the opposite direction, without letting them break. OI don't hurry them in the beginning, and just wait on them to change

Once they have this down well, I only need to push hip into new lead, elevate inside rein of new lead, make sure my leg is off on new lead side, shift seatbone weight to old lead, and my horse changes

When you go to changing on a figure eight, make sure your horse is straight for the change, then start the new circle.

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There are two basic types of flying lead changes.

1) Cowboy changes.

2) Collected Dressage changes.

They are totally different. Cowboy changes are what a horse does naturally when he changes in a barrel race or in the pasture. The front end changes first (usually) and the hind end catches up. This is the type of change Craig Cameron was doing with a log. An athletic horse that does not already have a mental block and resists changes will usually change in front and then when the next stride is initiated, that same hind foot will come up and the horse is in the new lead -- front and back.

A collected Dressage change is what a Reining horse or Western Riding horse (or Dressage horse) does that Smilie is describing. Dressage changes require much more skill and much more body control than cowboy changes. An accomplished trainer will never teach a horse to change in a figure eight or during any direction change. This encourages a horse to drop a shoulder or 'dive off' in a new direction. This soon leads to a horse NOT changing behind on the same stride and eventually teaches a horse to not change behind at all.

I can remember about 35 or 40 years ago when most western trainers spurred a horse in the middle of a figure eight and tried to force a lead change. Horses would wring their tails, speed up and nearly all of them developed severe lead change anxiety. Many were completely ruined by these methods.

Dressage changes come from a very collected horse that is loping with its hind end well up under it. Some trainers teach lead changes out of a counter canter or out of a circle with reverse bend. But all of them want a horse to continue on a straight line for at least 2 or 3 strides after the lead change. All will push the horse's hind end toward the new lead and get their control from that.

When Smilie is talking about being able to do a 'half-pass', she is referring to a correct, proper half-pass. The

cowboy half-passes we see much of today are actually not a half-pass at all. They are simply 'leg yielding' exercises where the horse's head it coming around to the wrong side -- looking back at the rider's leg instead of looking toward the direction of the half-pass.

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Thanks, Cheri, for the further clarification

A long time ago, when I first got interested in peformance horses, I took a Pat Wise clinic, and he basically taught what you refer to as a 'cowboy lead change'. Pat was mroe of a natural horsemanship type of trainer, than a performance trainer for disciplines like western riding and reining

Took me awhile to understand what makes a great technical and correct lead change, the kind rewarded in the showring

Pat basically used speed and change of direction to get the lead change, and yes, just about every horse was doing flying changes after that weekend, but they weren't pretty , and often a hind lead was dragged, with the rider needing to bump that hind lead up-big minus in any performance event

Pat had us head across center at speed, straight towards the arena wall, then suddenly put weight in outside stirrup (old lead ) and turn the horse in direction of new lead. The horse either changed or risked falling down!

A correct lead change, like a correct lead departure, does not depend on the geography of a cirlce, and is executed not by speed of foreward motion (horse trotting faster into lead departure , or speeding up for a flying change, but rather by correct body position, and driving up from behind , into either ther lead departure or the flying change

This allows you to change leads anywhere, or pick up the correct lead, whether in a straight line or a counter canter, because the horse is listening to you leg and using the body control to execute that task, by the training you put on him, and not out of forced direction change or front end first changes

We don't need to teach horses flying changes or even lead departures. They do them all the time out in the field

What we teach them, is to perform these tasks with percision, at exact spots, while maintaining frame, and without the aid of geography

In other words, these clinicians that seem to create miracles, with every horse changing leads after a weekend clinic, have merely used what horses do naturally in a pasture, but this is a long way from teaching correct hind end first lead changes, changes where the horse maintains frame, does not drop shoulder in direction of new lead, does not change speed or attitude-changes that are as smooth as silk and technically correct

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Totally ditto Cheri and Smilie.

I never use a change of direction or trot steps to prepare or teach a flying lead change.

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Really good thoughts. I play around with the lead changes all the time. I try and get a lead change everywhere I feel like it. I'll cruz down the middle and ask or I'll ask on the rail and of course I am just as guilty of trying it in the middle. lol. Can't help myself.

What I realize is like others have said...Your horse really has to be in great physical condition to properly do a flying lead change. Right now...My horse is nowhere near able to do flying so I just stick to breaking into the trot for a few strides than picking up the canter from there.

I always have poles on the ground and I have also picked up the canter over them. I also do a lot of counter cantering just so my horse doesn't anticipate anything.

Good luck. whatever you try....

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Do any of you have video's of you changing leads correctly?

This is a video from my drill team a few years ago, but I thought all of my lead changes were incredibly clean and correct. There are several lead changes in the video that are super easy to see. And they are all on straight lines.

I enter 3rd.

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Pephaps a better video to see flying changes.

First one I found on u TUbe

Unfortunately, no one ever around to video me at shows

second link only shows one change, but is a very great example

Edited by Smilie

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I run barrels and do working cow horse so I need to be able to change leads when ever and where ever and I might not have time to frame my horse up and make him pretty when he does it..also a horse that is running isn't in a 3 beat lope...lead change is gonna look a little different. Can't convince me that a 1400lb race horse changing leads coming off the last turn near the quarter pole isn't balanced...couldn't change the lead if he wasnt'.

I like this video by the way...

That is a horse that is gonna be able to travel and go somewhere and change leads.

Here's Zenyetta winning the Apple Blossom, notice the lead chang at about 1.31 into the race....WOW!!!

I know comparing Apples and Oranges...but hardly unbalanced...

Edited by RUN N RATE

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Run N Rate, you miss he point completely, plus have a few other misconceptons

First, unless you are riding a gaited horse, there are thee gaits a horse has, and within those gaits can be variation of speed

walk-four beats

jog or trot two beats

lope, canter, gallop three beats

It is much easier for a horse to do things at speed. They change leads all the time in the pasture, racing around and changing directions-they have to or fall down

Same goes for a race horse or one running games

Many horses that run games are unable to change leads on cue, any place, without using a change of direction and speed

A horse taught to change leads through body control , on cue, without changing speed or direction, can certainly run at speed and do 'cowbody changes'-as natural as breathing. The reverse is not true

A horse never taught the body control for changing leads on cue, ceratinly can do it at speed and running a pattern, but ask them to change leads at an exact spot without changing direction and speed, they certainly can't do it, as they were never taught

If you do working cowhorse, then you also have to do the dry work-which consists of a reining pattern. The dry work at cowhorse events used to have less finesse than reining, but that is changing, with compitition getting tougher, and at the better events, the drywork of a working cowhorse class has become pretty exact

Edited by Smilie

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So you are saying at the run there is still only 3 beats to the gait?

I have read in many a book that at the gallop the diagonal foot fall that is usually beat two becomes slightly seperated with the hind foot striking the ground slightly a head of the foreleg....making it a 4 beat gait.

I'm not arguing at all about whether a horse can do a cued lead change without being taught a cued lead change. I agree whole heartedly. Can't ask a child to read that hasn't been taught to, either by sight or sounds.

My argument is that take Zenyetta...she is traveling probably 35 miles an hour,if not more, changes leads, of course being taught to, but it doesn't appear like the jockey pushed her hip in to the inside of the new lead or framed her up...still apeared to be a pretty easy well balanced lead change....

I guess basically I got my dander up when it was inferred that a dressage or WP horse or rider requires more skill than say a barrel racer or reined cow horse where your lead changes are imparative to gettting around the barrel without breaking stride or circling the cow up at the end of a run.

As you can tell , I'm not a writer nor have I ridden with World Champions, but please don't assume because we barrel racers havent' that all of our horses simply just catch the lead to save them selves. Some of us actually teach leads and lead changes...on cue.

I'm sure Spotted T Apps has spent more than her share of time herself on leads and lead changes and the skills required for both.

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Just so you know, Run, I used to show in working cowhorse and also ran games. In fact my old mare was hi pt Cattle horse and also hi point games horse

My first stallion was a National champion in western riding, plus flag picking and barrels, so I've ridden both type sof lead changes. Naturally, taking a cow down the fence, or circling her, you let the horse determine the leads.

When I ran pole bending-same thing, didn't have to worry about the lead changes. My horse took care of it,had to, or break gait between poles

Never heard of the gallop being a four beat gait. Can you provide a link?

Four beat lope is the ban of western pl, becuase many horses are asked to execute that agit slower than their ability to do so. That is when the second beat breaks down into two, so that the horse appears to be trotting behind. Can't imagine a gallop with that fourth beat. However, willing to have an open mind-just show me the reference

Beats are counted when the legs making that beat hit the ground. After completion of the three beats in a stride, there is a moment of suspension when all four legs are off of the ground at the same time, but that is not counted as a beatMy oldest son shows reining and working cowhorse I sti have many friends on that circuit, so not locked with blinkers into western pl.

The thread was about teaching correct flying changes. The technical aspect both Cheri and I described, is used by reiners as well as western riding trainers. I have taken many clinics from both

Charlie Cole, Al Dunning, Craig Johnson, Bob Loomas, and the list goes on, all empathize body control and correct hind end first lead changes, and keeping the horse straight during those changes

Don't know why you are taking offense

Ok, I did look it up and there are two different versions. Some state that it is a four beat gait, but even in a lope it describes the second beat occuring when the inside hind and outside hind hit the ground together or almost at the same time-so I don't see the difference

Another reference I found descibed the gallop as a two beat version of the canter

Here is alink, and it has the gallop as three beats, unless horse is asked to gallop on concrete

http://www.horsemanpro.com/articles/gallop.htm

It also explains why when racing one sometimes doesn't hear the third beat, so that some assume the racing gallop is a two beat gait.

Knowing what happens when ahorse four beats in western pl, I would more likely accept that a racing gallop is two beats, but in reality, when looked at correctly, alope, gallop and a canter all have the same number of beats

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Edited by Smilie

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Not trying to ruffle anyone's feathers; I see both sides. But I will agree with Run that the gallop is a four beat gait. References:

http://www.equusite.com/articles/basics/basicsGaits.shtml

http://www.horses-and-horse-information.co...rse-gaits.shtml

http://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index...21164846AAeN83j

Slow motion gallop videos:

The last video is the clearest to see the distinct 4 beats.

I think the point that Run was trying to make, was that gaming horses are trained to do a correct flying lead change, but because they can do it at lower speeds, they're able to do it at high speed. Therefore, they can do it at any speed. So JUST BECAUSE a horse is a gaming horse, doesn't mean it can't frame up and do a slower flying change at any given time. Of course, it all depends on the rider. I intend to have any horse I ever own to be trained to do a proper lead change, but some people just don't care and THOSE are the ones that do a "cowboy change" or just throw the horse in the direction praying for a lead change.

I started out like that. Since then, I've learned and I know way way better. Tucker's lame, so that's giving me time to take lessons and learn. When he's better, I plan on taking it back a few steps and reteaching the flying change.

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Both views are very interesting, I kind of agree with both points. Bleu Matinae certainly wasn't taught the same way as Zenyatta, but both horses are ideal specimens of their sport. It is easier to teach a racehorse its lead, but we don't speed them up into it (at least right here at our training track). They are just cruising along at a nice pace with so much extra room that it is nearly a pleasant way to introduce the idea. Later down the road when switching jobs, it does seem easier to teach an exracehorse to switch in a ring or field or wherever then a greenbean with no background much at all. We just slowly teach a racehorse to bring their center of gravity back and learn to carry themselves a little slower until they can hold their own balance completely on their own at any pace. The nice thing is the lead change usually is right there with them as they learn to carry themselves and they understand the cue already. Of course there are horses that do have issues too, usually can be traced back to soreness or lameness of some sort. I do love to reschool TBs, a great many of them are so willing and smart! I love the flying lead change too, most horses I've been on like learning them.. it's fun and an accomplishment physically for them, so rythmical. I think they feel proud of themselves actually a lot of the time. And I feel proud of them too! Now look, you all have me doing flying lead changes in my mind.. ha ha! I'm smiling about it too!! :)

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Well, I have trained both race horses and reining horses and put quite a few Western Riding points on some of my reiners. I have also helped a number of barrel racers that had BIG lead changing problems, so I feel qualified to speak to the differences and the problems encountered by all of them.

I also agree that a horse running has a distinct 4 beat gate with a longer part of their stride in full suspension than the lope, but the foot falls are the same with the exception of a minute split between the landing of the diagonal pair. The hind foot of the off lead lands first and the leading front foot lands last -- just like the lope -- to complete a full stride.

I only defined the two very different kinds of changes. I did not say one was better than the other. They are just different and appropriate at different times. Collection is required to initiate a slow change where the hind foot is the first to change and speed is not the object. Natural or cowboy changes are not all bad and some collected changes are 'hoppy' and anything but pretty. Most natural changes are good changes with the horse changing the hind lead on the same or next stride. But, a natural or cowboy change requires speed and a lot of impulsion -- sometimes lots of it. The slower and more controlled the change is, the more difficult it is to do correctly. The big problems begin when a rider relies on a change of direction and does not keep the horse from 'diving off' in the new direction or lets a horse drop its shoulder. Then, if the rider decides to use a spur or bat or whip to 'fix' the problem, they get the biggest problem of all -- a horse that says "Heck NO! I'm not changing behind no matter what you do to me!" Horses that have built up a huge resentment against a lead change can be VERY difficult to re-school and get nice changes from them under pressure.

Many barrel racers (and not just the Amateurs or beginners) have HUGE problems and lose races when their horse fails to change behind going into a barrel or drops the hind lead part way around the barrel. The result is a horse that cannot efficiently propel itself around a barrel or cannot propel itself away from the barrel when it drops a lead behind or never changes behind. I have helped several people work with these problem horses. Usually they had already developed a serious aversion to changing in back and a few never got comfortable with changing but I was able to get all of them to change.

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Bottomline, the slower the flying lead change is asked for, the more difficult it is, and technical correctness comes into play-collection and hind end first changes

Flying changes at speed are pretty natural for a horse, plus much easier, esp if combined with a change of direction. Pittfall, of this 'natural or cowboy change, is that the horse often changes in front first, and this creates the possible problem of the horse dragging a hind lead

As to the number of beats to a gallop, which really is irrelevant to this post, I can find just as many links that state the gallop is a two beat gait as a four.

In reality the stride sequence is the same as a lope or canter, it is not a 'different' gait per say

Two beats makes more sense to me, becAUse four beating occurs when a horse is slowed to the point that he can no longer maintain a TRUE LOPE

Doesn't make sense to me that the two extremes (horse trying to lope so slow , that he falls apart at the lope and starts to four beat, and a horse travelling at maximum speed), have the same beats

I agre that the moment of suspension is longer, the faster a horse is moving

Also, when the beats of a lope are described, The first beat is the outside hind, and the second beat is the inside hind and outside front hitting the ground at TH SAME TIME OR VERY CLOSE TO THE SAME TIME, then lead leg

So, really splitting hairs here, plus nothing to do with a flying change

Also, true four beating, has very distinct and separate for beats

So I have a question, coming out of this post, for interest sake

If the four beat lope (not a true lope ) and the gallop have the same breakdown of the second beat, then whats the difference between the two. Only the time interval length of break between the inside hind and outside front striking the ground?

Edited by Smilie

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I'm too lazy to dig up links right now and I'm about to head out the door (although Shelby posted some good ones) but I just finished my Functional Anatomy course from the University of Guelph and one of the units was on gait analysis. In this was that the gallop is a 4 beat gait.

The difference I would say between a 4 beat lope and the gallop, is that the gallop is a natural gait. I've never seen a horse do a 4 beat lope in the pasture unless it's lame.

I'd have to go look up some videos and take a look at the actual differences. That's just what comes to mind right away.

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True, concerning the four beat lope-it is not a true lope, What happens to the second beat in the stride is the same, both in a four beat lope and a gallop, from all that I can read.. The second beat breaks down into two distinct beats, and it appears this same mechanics occurs at the gallop-namely that the second beat becomes two

Thus the difference, besides one being natural and the other man made, seems to be the time interval between the inside rear and the outside front hitting the ground

Then there are those that claim the gallop is a two beat gait

Other than sematics, doesn't affect the technicality of a flying change, nor does it affect the events I show in. My horse must perform a true three beat lope , Western, and a three beat canter English

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I believe that the split second beat in a supposedly collected horse is a faulty gait where the horse has learned to slow down incorrectly making the slowed hind feet appear to be trotting instead of loping behind.

A running horse is so stretched out trying to go fast that it is impossible for the diagonal pair of feet to land any where near the same time.

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4 beat canter... yucky, no likey!! Have you ever noticed it seems horses that are more prone to 4 beat are not very gifted laterally? And some seem to have no give in their back as if to be protecting their hocks or vice versa. Not to entirely blame a horse for that, just an observation about the natural flexibility of horses. Some have just got "it" and some really struggle with what they were born with.

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four beating at the lope is caused when a horse either lacks the hind end strength or the conditioning to maintain a three beat lope, while loping slow as possible,The second beat breaks down into two

Judges were also at fault , in the past, becuase they picked horses that moved the slowest, without evaluating always the correctness of the gait

Movement at upper end has improved greatly with the stipulation that a lope must be a true three beat

Now good western pleasure trainers get that correctness first,before rating the speed, and using body control to achieve the ability to lope slow and correct

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The poor handful of horses I was thinking of from the past would still 4 beat even if sped up, just bad movers naturally... even with fitness. Some of them could really jump moving like that, but flatwork was never their forte.. just born with a natural bad way of going (even without a rider on board). That's where my curiousity set in about natural flexibility within a horse (or lack of) and 4 beating. I have to say that these handful of 4 beaters were usually very tolerant school horse types and would go around and do for you very willingly though (getting down the lines in the right #'s for beginners was sometimes tough, but one horse in particular was the king of covering up "the chip".. ha ha, good ole horse!). That being said, I do get how one could get a horse 4 beating by trying to make them go so slow too soon without enough foundation. Horses are going to compensate somehow or another. And the western pleasure type riding, they really go slower and more in place than anyone in my sport would ever really do. I imagine it does take much time to train them to go that slow and keep an honest gait.... or they will tell on you! ha ha

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