Cor­rect Lead-Change An­tic­i­pa­tion

All-around trainer Les­lie Lange pro­vides ex­er­cises for a reader who’s hav­ing trou­ble with her geld­ing an­tic­i­pat­ing lead changes in horsemanship and Western rid­ing.

Horse & Rider - - Problem Solvers - Ni­c­hole Chirico

QI’ve re­cently pur­chased a new all-around geld­ing that I show in the Western rid­ing and horsemanship at Quar­ter Horse shows. I’ve taken him to a few horse shows now, and I’ve no­ticed when­ever there’s a fly­ing lead change in a horsemanship pat­tern, or when we go down the line in Western rid­ing, he knows where to change and tries to an­tic­i­pate it. What can I do to make him lis­ten to my cues and keep him from chang­ing leads with­out my ask­ing?


Lead-change an­tic­i­pa­tion is some­thing you might have to work on when you’re show­ing a sea­soned all-around horse that’s been com­pet­ing for some time. It’s easy for a horse to start an­tic­i­pat­ing a change, es­pe­cially in Western rid­ing, be­cause there are only a few pat­terns and es­sen­tially you’re chang­ing leads in a sim­i­lar spot each time. Even­tu­ally he learns those pat­terns, knows where he’s sup­posed to change, and tries to do it on his own.

Here I’ll dis­cuss a few dif­fer­ent ways you can ap­proach work­ing on lead­change an­tic­i­pa­tion at home or warm­ing up at your next show.

Be­fore You Prac­tice

Be­fore you be­gin any lead- change ex­er­cises with your horse, try do­ing some­thing as sim­ple as leav­ing your cones out in the arena ev­ery time you ride. This works for both Western rid­ing and horsemanship an­tic­i­pa­tion. Hav­ing cones out in the arena al­lows your horse to get com­fort­able be­ing around them, no mat­ter what you’re work­ing on. Even on days when you’re not prac­tic­ing Western rid­ing or horsemanship, ride through and around them. This will help him stop as­so­ci­at­ing lead changes with cones and al­low him re­lax when he’s near them. →

change ev­ery lead ev­ery time you go down the line. There are a few dif­fer­ent ex­er­cises you can do to change how you warm up or prac­tice at home.

Ex­er­cise 1: Skip­ping changes

evate his shoul­ders and try to change with­out you, take him off the line and cir­cle the cone. Con­tinue to cir­cle that cone un­til you feel his at­ten­tion is back on you, and not on the change. After he re­laxes, con­tinue back down the line.

This ex­er­cise can also be done at a counter can­ter. If you’re lop­ing on your left lead and your horse wants to go to the left, go ahead and counter can­ter a cir­cle to the right un­til he soft­ens. An­other ben­e­fit to counter can­ter­ing is you’re go­ing to have a lit­tle more con­tact with your horse, which will help him ac­cept what you’re work­ing on and fo­cus on what you’re ask­ing, rather than chang­ing leads. The last ex­er­cise you can do to help your horse from an­tic­i­pat­ing is hav­ing him wait to change leads un­til you’re past the cen­ter of your two mark­ers. I even rec­om­mend chang­ing leads once you’re at the next marker. Do this down your en­tire line. You can also prac­tice this with a horse that’s an­tic­i­pat­ing a change in the horsemanship. When prac­tic­ing your horsemanship pat­tern and there’s a lead change, wait to change leads a few strides more than what your pat­tern calls for so he doesn’t learn where he’s sup­posed to change. I wouldn’t ad­vo­cate chang­ing leads early for horsemanship or Western rid­ing, be­cause that’s a habit that your horse will pick up quickly, and it’ll only make him an­tic­i­pate chang­ing leads more.

used to step off just as I’d set­tle into the sad­dle at mount­ing. Then I started a rou­tine where I al­ways checked my po­si­tion plus planned what I wanted to do be­fore let­ting her take even one step. Now she as­sumes I’ll be do­ing a “sys­tems check” and so stands still and waits un­til I cluck and squeeze.

Tif­fany Ben­son, Texas

feeder be­cause his head was al­ways in the way. I be­gan say­ing, “Head back!” in a com­mand­ing way, then wait­ing as long as it took for him to pull his head in be­fore I’d dump in his feed. I was amazed at how quickly he changed his be­hav­ior, once I was both in­sis­tent and con­sis­tent.

Bar­bara Martinez, Cal­i­for­nia

One key to avoid­ing an­tic­i­pa­tion is keep­ing your rou­tine from be­ing too…rou­tine. For ex-

If you feel your horse start to change leads, gen­tly stop him be­fore he changes. Be sure it’s not a pun­ish­ment, but rather pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment.

Ex­er­cise 3: Change leads at the cone

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.