Dear Friend and Horseman,
Welcome to another Horse Training Tips Newsletter.
A couple of my members emailed me with very good questions about leads and lead changes. I thought it may be beneficial to share them with you.
Do you have a video that will talk about feeling the leads? I have ridden all my life but never cared before…the horse took care of it. Now I am riding in an arena and leads are important.
My horse is very smooth and one side feels just like the other!
I have read a hundred books and watched other trainer’s videos about leads but they don’t tell you how to feel them!
I can’t ride him in performances until I can feel the leads.
Also, do you know
how to teach a horse the leads by moving the shoulders over
rather than moving the hind quarters over? I have heard it is a much
method and that you can do flying changes easily after they know this.
I would appreciate any help.
Here is how you can feel what lead your horse is on.
If you will pay attention, you will notice that if the horse is on the “left” lead,
your left “thigh” will be farther forward than your other thigh.
And, vise-versa when the horse is on his right lead.
In other words, when the horse is on the left lead, the left side of the rider’s body will be slightly leading (farther forward) the other side of his body.
Getting a horse to pick up a particular lead by moving his shoulders in the direction of the lead, is fine when you first start working with a horse.
However, over time, you really need to teach him to pick up the lead by moving his HINDQUARTERS in the direction of the desired lead. This “hindquarter first” lead
departure is CRITICAL if you hope to have control over which lead the horse takes.
In a nut shell, if you want the horse to pick up the left lead, keep the horse’s
shoulders straight and move his hindquarters to the left as you ask for the lope.
Always remember, its the hindquarters that dictate the lead. Not the shoulders.
If you get the horse to pick up the correct lead behind, the front end will automatically pick up the correct lead also. However, getting the lead in front is no guarantee the horse will pick it up behind.
The “hindquarter first” lead departure is also mandatory for laying the
a good FLYING LEAD CHANGE.
You should WANT your horse to do a “hindquarter first” lead change as this is the
smoothest, most reliable lead change there is.
Asking a horse to change leads “shoulder first”, will often cause a horse to MISS
his hind lead. Plus, it’s not as smooth and takes the horse an extra stride to complete.
Now, after saying that, keep in
mind some horses are natural lead changers that will change beautifully
no matter what. And of course, there is the other kind that won’t change
Larry Trocha Training Stable
Another email question:
I’m having problems with my leads and lead changes and was hoping you might give me some advice.
When I ask my horse to pick up the right lead, a lot of times he won’t. I move his hindquarters to the right and then kick him to lope but he’ll go into the wrong lead anyway.
Same thing when I ask him to do a flying lead change. I’ll try to move his hindquarters over to get the change but he’ll usually not get the hind lead. He ends up in the correct lead in front and the wrong lead behind.
Is it me or the horse? What can I do?
P.S. I have one of your Inner Circle videos. It’s awesome. I want to get more but see that you have closed the Inner Circle program. Any way to just get the tapes?
I’ll address your question about the Inner Circle videos first. Yes, I plan on making the Inner Circle videos available. The information they contain is too good not to share. Call my assistant, Bev and she’ll tell you the deal. 707-665-0833.
Okay, lets get to your problem with the leads.
Keep in mind that without actually seeing you ride the horse, I can only guess what is happening. However, your problem is a common one that I’ve seen many times so I’m pretty sure I know what’s going wrong.
I believe there are actually two separate things that are causing your problem.
Reason #1. When you are moving the horse’s hindquarters over to cue for the lead, you are unknowingly letting the horse’s shoulders drift that direction too… causing the horse to pick up the wrong lead behind.
If you are going to ask your horse to pick up the left lead, you need to move his hindquarters to the left AND make sure his shoulders stay put. It may even be helpful to hold the shoulders a little to the right.
Remember, ONLY the hindquarters should move in the direction of the lead. If you let the shoulders move in that direction, it cancels out the hindquarters.
This advice goes for lead departures as well as flying lead changes.
Reason #2. You are trying to use your legs for positioning the hindquarters as well as a cue to accelerate into the lope… and that won’t work(at least not on a green horse).
Whenever we use our legs to move a horse’s hindquarters over to pick up a certain lead, we are in fact “positioning” his body with our legs. We need to keep our leg on the horse so his hindquarters stay in position as he picks up the lope.
Once he is in the lope on the correct lead, we release our leg.
Because our legs are used for positioning in this maneuver, its necessary that we have a different cue to ask the horse to accelerate into the lope.
If we try to use our legs for both positioning AND accelerating, it confuses the horse and makes him unsure of what we want.
So, once I have moved the horse’s hindquarters over, I cluck or kiss to him as his cue to pick up the lope. That way I can keep his hindquarters where I want them as I ask him to lope… There are no conflicting signals to confuse the horse.
I suggest you practice your lead departures while riding at a walk, next to a fence. Let’s say the fence is on your right and you want to pick up the left lead…
First, pick up your reins and move them slightly to the right to block the horse’s shoulders from moving off the fence.
Second, move your right leg back a little, turn your toe out and apply enough pressure to move the horse’s hindquarters over to the left. Push the hindquarters away from the fence about a foot or two. Keep them there as you continue to walk forward. (your horse will be two-tracking down the fence).
Third, with the horse’s hindquarters pushed to the left, cluck to the horse to ask him to lope.
If the horse lopes off on the correct lead, release all leg and rein pressure and let him go.
If he picks up the wrong lead, correct him by stopping immediately, move his hindquarters to the left and ask for the lope again. Repeat as many times as necessary for him to take the lead.
Here are some common mistakes when asking for “left” lead departures.
Mistake #1: Letting the horse’s shoulders drift and not keeping them right next to the fence.
Mistake #2: Not keeping the horse’s hindquarters to the left as the horse breaks into the lope. Just as the horse starts to lope, the rider will mess up and release the hindquarters too soon. Thus, missing the lead.
Mistake #3: The horse doesn’t pick up the lope when the rider clucks to him. You need to have your horse conditioned to accelerate when he hears the cluck. During your normal rides, cluck to the horse, if he doesn’t speed up, pop him on the butt.
Mistake #4: The horse isn’t broke. To do lead departures or changes that are consistent and look good, the horse needs to have good initial training.
It may be hard for you to grasp a mental picture of all this just from reading. However, once you actually see it in action, it’ll make perfect sense to you.
To see this in action, I suggest you watch my video on flying lead changes.
It wouldn’t hurt to watch my foundation training video, either. The one on turns, circles and leads.
I should also say, the training and cueing techniques that I have outlined above work extremely well on a wide variety of horses. However, those techniques are not the only way to get this done. Just a very good way.
Larry Trocha Training Stable
I hope this information helps you. Let me know if you found it valuable.
Well, this wraps it up for this newsletter. I hope you liked it.
Until next time, have fun training your horse.