Video: Flawless Flying Lead Changes



Turns on the Forehand
A turn on the forehand, where the horse’s front end stays still while you move his rear end around it, is the perfect way to practice separating the hind end from the front end and being able to move them individually. The turn on the forehand is mainly a matter of holding the front end still and bringing the outside leg behind the cinch and moving the rear end around while keeping the horse’s nose tipped to the inside.

Two-tracking is like side-passing while you’re going forward. The horse will be going forward and to the side. If done correctly, the horse’s legs will cross.

Two-Tracking for the Green Horse
For green horses learning to two-track, you may need to move the front end over a couple steps and then move the hind end over a couple steps until they learn to move forward and sideways at once.

Counter Cantering
Begin on the correct lead, then gradually steer the horse to where he’s going the wrong way for that lead, and keep him on that wrong lead. Teaching flying lead changes while counter cantering on a circle makes it easy for the horse to do the right thing. Counter cantering a circle is more difficult for a horse than circling on the correct lead, so it’s a reward to change to the correct lead.

Two-Track across the Diagonal with Flying Lead Change
Two-track a horse across the arena loping on the left lead. Come aruond the corner and two-track to the left. At about two-thirds of the way across, ask for the change, but continue on that same trajectory going to the left until you reach the fence.

Figure Eight with Sidepass Transition
Lope a circle on the left lead like you’re going to do a figure eight. As you get to the middle of the circle, side-pass your horse to the left to the inside of that circle. Then you stop, tip the horse’s hindquarters over to the right, tip his nose to the right, and pick up the right lead and go clockwise around in a circle. When you come back to the middle of the circle, do the same in the opposite direction.

Figure Eight with Two-Track Transition
When you’ve mastered the sidepass transition and you have your horse moving off your leg well, try the two-pass transition. Come through the middle, two-track to the inside of the circle, and you change your leg and change leads and lope off on the other circle.

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This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe.


  1. great info! I love the video too! my horse is so lazy, but im hoping, hoping, hoping for a young horse and to go to a riding academy! if i do, i will use the info! im still very happy with my gentle old horse! again, thanks for the info, and great article and video! i loved it so so much!

  2. No to pick Miss Collier apart, but her right stirrup is one hole longer than the left, her legs aren’t under under and her upper body is tilted forward, every my trainer tells me not to do. And since she’s a graduate of Findley College Equistrian, I believe her more. Horsemanship makes for a better rider and broke horse. Not saying this horse isn’t broke, he/she is, and a beautiful palomino too!

  3. Just a quick note to Marion in New Jersey — Sandy Collier is the only woman in history to have won the prestigious Snaffle Bit Futurity, among her MANY other accomplishments and huge wins — and was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2011. While I’m sure your trainer from Findley College is great, you should know that Sandy Collier is an instantly recognized figure in the nation’s reined cowhorse and cutting world.


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