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An Exercise For A Horse That Cross Canters

Submitted by member: Lauren

I am looking for help with regards to fixing a cross canter and knowing when the horse lands in the cross canter.

Answer by Robert Gage

Some horses will land on a cross canter—occasionally. It’s rare, but it does happen. Riders can try to “lead” a horse with an opening inside rein over the fence to try and tell their horse which lead the rider wants them to land on. I have a great exercise for teaching horses to do a solid one-piece flying change—but it takes lots of practice over a month or two. Place two poles about a foot to 18” apart. Now, canter over these poles at a good pace. Make a giant figure eight, so you come into the poles on one lead then land on the other. Try to do that by turning your horse just as he leaves the ground to “hop over” the poles. So, if you are approaching on the left turn, just as your horse is about to hop the poles, switch to your right rein and pull his mouth some to the right, so he lands going to the right… some.

Did you know a flying change for a horse is very similar to a “SKIP” for a person? Think about when you skip. Isn’t there a moment when you “hop” up into the air? These poles artificially create that “hop.” You should hop over these poles 4-20 times per day for your horse to properly learn this “skip” technique. Each day you do the exercise, you can move the 2 poles to a different part of the arena. You can even have more than one pair of poles in the arena at a time. Most horses take anywhere from a week to a month to learn to do these flying changes. What you begin to look for is your horse switching leads IN FRONT of the poles! Now you are close. Don’t get discouraged. It takes some time, and it takes LOTS OF PRACTICE for your horse to “get it.”

More Learning

You might also find this blog post helpful: Training A Sensitive Thoroughbred to Not Swap Leads by Bernie Traurig

Video Recommendations:

get your horse to stop changing leads at the canter

Improving Your Flying Changes
Bernie Traurig
A lot of issues can crop up that result in less than perfect flying changes. Perhaps your horse anticipates or is anxious, has late changes, or uncontrollable changes like swapping in lines. Bernie has some tips to address all these issues and more. changes on cue.
Running Time:  21 minutes and 9 seconds

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training your horse to not swap leads on the way to a jump

Swapless On Course
Hope and Ned Glynn
You are having a flawless trip, you see your distance to that single oxer across the diagonal a mile away, you know there’s a blue ribbon in your future…. and then, in anticipation of a change of direction, your beloved, loyal mount swaps his lead in front of the jump. Hope and Ned Glynn have a way to fix it!
Running Time:  7 minutes and 49 seconds

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John French’s topic “Landing On The Proper Lead.”

Landing On The Proper Lead
John French
John French discusses and demonstrates exercises that perfect landing on the correct lead for that extra edge in a hunter class.
Running Time:  18 minutes and 23 seconds

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Jenny and Kost Karazissis’ topic “Setting Up The Lead Change.”

Setting Up The Lead Change
Team Karazissis
In this session Team Karazissis describe & demonstrate exercises that establish direct communication to the three main parts of the horse & stimulate the haunch in order to facilitate the lead change.
Running Time:  12 minutes and 21 seconds

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Robert Gage

Judge Rob Gage is a 3-time World Cup Grand Prix rider and won the Rolex Crown of Excellence (won more Grand Prix than any other rider in the US) in successive years, along with being the AGA rider of the year in back to back years. He was the number 1 ranked Grand Prix rider in the US for over 80 consecutive weeks. He is a large “R” rated USEF Judge and course designer.

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