How To Feel Your Horse’s Leads And Lead Departures
Dear Friend and Horseman,
Welcome to another “Horse Training Tips Insider”.
In this issue, I answer one of my members questions about leads and lead departures.
I think you’ll find her question is a good one… and one shared by many riders.
Okay, let’s get started.
Do you have a video that explains how to “feel” a horse’s leads?
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 me how to feel them!
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 better 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.
When a horse is loping on his left lead… his left legs are reaching farther forward than his right legs.
As a result, you will notice if the horse is on his “left” lead, your left “thigh” will be farther forward than your right thigh.
And, vise-versa when the horse is loping 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.
Let’s talk about getting a horse to take the correct lead.
When it comes to lead departures from the standstill or the walk, the most reliable way is to position the horse’s body by moving his HINDQUARTERS.
The horse’s shoulders should remain stationary or moved slightly in the opposite direction of the hindquarters.
In a nut shell, if you want the horse to pick up the left lead, keep the horse’s shoulders straight (or move them slightly to the right) 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.
It’s not uncommon for a horse to be in the left lead in front and the right lead behind. This is called “cross-firing”.
The “hindquarter first” lead departure is pretty much mandatory if you want consistency.
It’s also mandatory for laying the foundation for a good FLYING LEAD CHANGE.
You really want your horse to do a “hindquarter first” flying lead change as this is the smoothest, most reliable lead change there is.
Asking a horse to do a flying lead change “shoulder first”, will often cause a horse to “miss” his hind lead and cross-fire. Plus, it’s not as smooth and takes the horse an extra stride to complete the change.
Now, after saying that, keep in mind some horses are natural lead changers who will change beautifully, no matter what. And of course, there’s also the other kind that won’t change well, no matter what.
If you really want to get good at teaching your horse correct lead departures and flying lead changes, I recommend you get my DVD, “Teach Your Horse Flying Lead Changes”
That DVD explains and demonstrates everything you need to know about leads.
If your really serious about your horse’s training, I’d recommend the Performance Training Package. The package includes the flying lead change DVD at a big discount.
Larry Trocha Training Stable