Did you know that changing leads on your horse is actually not always about changing direction? Sometimes lead changes can be a bit challenging. I know of people who have lost a lot of cash by missing a lead by just half a stride or even dragging a lead by two strides.
In order to be able to change leads perfectly in both the front and the hind legs at the same time, your horse has to position his body in such a way that his spine is straight.
In my case, when doing my lead changes in a reining pattern, I never do a figure eight like most people. During the circling process, I round the corners but go straight through the middle. I then change leads in the center and take a few strides straight to keep the horse aligned before proceeding into the opposite direction.
So, actually, it is all about ensuring that everything remains straight all the time; something like creating some training wheels for the horse rider. Check out the steps I follow below:
1) Place a pole in the middle of the arena with both its ends pointing to the center markers. This pole helps you focus on a straight line.
2) Starting on the right lead and in a lope, move into a right large circle. As you approach the middle, lope straight in the right lead and move towards the left side of the pole. Once you are at the pole, shift to the left lead and proceed to lope straight for a number of strides before finally moving the horse to the left circle.
3) In the left lead, perform the same procedure but in the middle, move to the right side of the pole and change to the right lead before continuing to lope straight and then moving into the right circle. Proceed, repeating step #2 above.
This technique can be performed whether you are in the warm-up arena or at home. The exercise makes you focus on the center of the arena. Good luck!
Image source: flickr.com
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