How Do I Make Quick Lead Changes with my Polo Pony?

answering your polo questions polo pony training May 12, 2022

Flying Lead Changes are all about legs, hips, weight distribution & using these to give the correct signals at the correct time.

How do you teach your horse this? Are you giving your horse the correct signals, at the correct time, so they can make the change? Is your body weight, legs & hips correct to give the correct signal?

Here I give you a few quick tips, to add to my detailed lesson from a while back, that will help you get the flying lead change correct.

How Do I Make Quick Lead Changes with my Polo Pony


Question was, "Tell and show me, could you tell and show me how to change the legs of my pony quickly, flying change. I do this, but I've never been taught the correct way with regards to body position, movements of the body, hands, you know, to give the correct signal to the horse, the correct time to engage all of the ends, front and back". Okay.

So, number one, the, that whole lesson is in the academy and, and it's very specific. Very detailed. Because there are a couple of, yeah, there are a couple of basic problems, mistakes not problems, that people make.

The first is every time they ask for a lead change, they look down to see if the horse has changed leads. So, as you look down, you want the horse to go this way, and you look down to see if it's change leads.

You're actually engaging the wrong leg. You're pushing the horse out of that turn. Yeah. I'm just going to self admit to that. It's quite nice having your input here. Yeah. That's one of my, that's been one of my problems.

And it's such, it's a habit that is so infuriating, you like, I just can't get rid of it. I'm getting rid of it. But you, you know, and then you think you've stopped doing it and suddenly you realize, flip I'm looking down to see if I've changed the lead again.

Anyway, so. The thing is though, if you wanting the horse to change leads this way, you wanting to use your body, your hips and legs, to drive it that way.

Now the other mistake that people make is, that they asking for the lead change when the front legs are dropping. How is the horse going to make a lead change when the front legs are going to land on the ground, it can't move those legs.

So, you want to wait until it's in the up-stride, Okay. And the next thing, Yes. So, it's driving with it's hind legs. But the other thing is that if you don't, number one, too many people going too slowly to start with.

If the horse is going quicker, the momentum carries it into the lead change much easier. So, speed up and get a slight arc to the side it's leading on. Now, flip it straight.

Don't be going straight, and then your hand does this, and the horse changes the front lead, because that's all you've asked it to do with your hands. You've got to do this and then flip it straight.

And as you flip it, you're flipping it on the up-stride and you putting both legs on to drive it forward. So, it's now pushing, on that outside, back leg and carrying on the inside.

So, it's actually driving itself that way, forward, not sideways. The lead change is not a 90 degree change of direction. It can't make that lead change with the back legs. It's that, and now you make this nice big turn afterwards.

Afterwards, when they're really easy to make the lead changes, you shift weight, the horse has made the lead change, and then you'll ask a turn. But if you teaching the horse, and you're teaching yourself to get the lead change, number one, have the whip on the outside.

You're going to lead change to the left. You've got your whip on the right. So, as you ask for the lead change, that the horse doesn't respond, give it a slap on the backside, make it go forward. 

It's got to accelerate. It's got to respect your legs. And your hands are picking it up and dropping it forward, they're not going sideways. So, hands and legs at the same, hips and legs at the same time, driving it forwards.

When you do this, you're doing all those things that stop it, because you're pushing the horse out. You're taking your hands across. And your whole inside leg is pushing and there's no drive through.

And you also, you're putting all of your weight onto the horses fore, and so you're putting them onto their fore, and the, you know, the lead comes from them being able to collect and drive through their hind. Exactly.

Yeah, you need to be in a balanced position on the horse and not leaning over the front, trying to see if it's changed it's legs. This way, you pushing the horse backwards. When you do this, you actually, your body's pushing the horse backwards. When you drive your backside and your legs, you pushing those forward. Yes. 

And, you know, one of the other mistakes that I've seen other people doing, and I'm now thinking back in hindsight, I know I've been doing it as well.

Is, you change, and you're looking over the front and you can see that the front leg has changed and you think, oh, awesome. I got the change, but the hind hasn't changed. And you feel that washing machine start. Exactly. Yeah.

So, that's the basics of it, you know, but when you watch it, and when you watch, cause that whole lesson in the academy was done with a group of English kids, and we, you see the child on the same horse on the first day and they were not made horses.

They were greenish horses. And you see them by the last day, the finesse and the little and the horse changing leads beautifully, and they've got the technique. Right.

You know, and it's, it's really a lovely video from that point, to be honest, because you see how it makes the change. And, and how quickly they've been able to get it right.

So, again, I think that's, I think a fantastic answer for a Q&A like this, obviously, for those of you that want to expand that further, inside the academy, Gavs got a whole series on, the lead change.

Exactly, the timing of it, when to ask for it's, how to use your body, what to do with your hands, very detailed and broken down.

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