The Path to Flying Change

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Does this sound familiar? Your baby green hunter is stylish over fences and quiet on the flat, but he lacks lead changes. Or your jumper cross-canters around many of his turns, costing you valuable seconds on the clock. Before you resign yourself to pastel-colored ribbons—or none at all—consider that most horses aren’t born with a desire to automatically swap their leads. They must be taught to seamlessly switch from one lead to the other, and to do it on cue. As you’ve no doubt discovered, missed lead changes and disjointed cross-canters won’t win blue ribbons in the show-ring.

Unfortunately, the road to clean lead changes can be a bumpy one. Here are the typical steps you’ll encounter as you journey from simple basics to effortless flying changes. Jumper trainer and instructor Mary Beth Molt of Endar Equine in Temecula, Calif., will be your guide.

**For the full article, pick up the September 2007 issue of HORSE ILLUSTRATED.**

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Cindy Hale
Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.

1 COMMENT

  1. My mare and I have succesfully learned flying lead changes. She does them very well it only took her 4 lessons to get them (shes a really fast learner :0)) All i did was practice on figure 8’s. I the middle of the ring i would get her to do a few steps of trot then change her leads. On our fourth day of schooling these she picked it right up.

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