Tips on Performing Stellar Simple Lead Changes – with AQHA Professional Horsewoman and judge Carla Wennberg
What is a Simple Lead Change?
A simple lead change is a lead change made through a transition down to the jog or walk and then back to the lope on the other lead. According to AQHA’s rules, there should be only one to three strides at the jog or walk before picking up the lope again.
As judges, we very seldom see a lope to walk transition for a simple lead change, but it is correct. Usually, if it’s a simple change in horsemanship, it’s a lope-jog-lope; and in the hunt seat equitation, it’s a canter-trot-canter.
In dressage, you can only do a simple change through the walk. It is actually considered a higher-level maneuver because you are asking for more collection in the canter to do it correctly.
Training for a Simple Lead Change
A simple lead change can be a great training tool. With my horses and riders, we move in a progression of simple lead changes.
The easiest is a simple change through the jog or trot. As you get your horse more collected, then you move to the canter-walk-canter or lope-walk-lope. The most collected simple change, and the most difficult, is a canter-stop-canter or lope-stop-lope.
After a horse and rider can make all those transitions perfectly, then I work on the counter-canter.
I have learned that simple lead changes help teach a horse to be more in tune to your aids in a canter/lope departure and downward transitions. Simple changes help a horse to lighten his side to what you ask for in your cues. It lightens the horse through your consistent training in those aids and cues.
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