Saturday, February 7, 2009


I have a confession to make: I don't know how to ask a horse for the correct lead! I think I know, but I'm not sure... I've grown up riding, but don't know how to ask for the correct lead. Some horse person I am, right? Well, I can explain.

My family always did trail riding and packing, which does not involve a lot of cantering, let alone caring about the correct lead. All the horses I rode, until I went to OSU and played polo, did not know the cue for the correct lead, just the cue for "canter." When I got to OSU and played polo on the club horses, we didn't care about the correct lead too much, either, as long as they had stop and go down pretty well (some of them didn't).

I got a green horse for my 12th birthday, right around when I would have been learning more of the finer aspects of riding. So my horse and I learned together. However, she is three quarters Arabian, and very high strung. So in lessons and clinics, we did most of our work at the walk and trot. I got very good at rouding and half-halting at the walk and trot! When we did do canter work, it was focused on her being calm and more rounded, not even caring about the lead. At one clinic, when my horse and I demonstrated our canter, the clinician asked if I knew how to do flying lead changes. When I indicated that I didn't, he commented, "Well your horse was doing them back and forth!" I guess that means she's athletic. But, I already knew that. I kept her in shape to do competitive trail riding, the open division, which meant 20 to 30 miles a day in competition. Yeah, she didn't have a problem with flying lead changes... doing them on cue, however? We were (are) both clueless.

The reason I bring this up is because I am being evaluated on my riding tomorrow, for the Equestrian Club. They want to know where to put me for lessons, at what level. I am a very advanced horse person in some ways; I can do ground training, I have helped raise and train a couple foals; I have given beginner lessons before; half-passing, side-passing, turn on the haunches, half-halts, etc, all this I can do, and train a horse to do. Which would put me at a higher level, of course. Ask a horse for the correct lead? Puts me down with the people who don't know how to sit a canter or post. *sigh* I think that I'm supposed to bring my inside leg forward and my outside leg back, and give the cue to speed up... or is it the other way around? I don't know. In the past, I just rounded the horse going in the right direction, and they usually picked it up alright. If they didn't, I'd slow them to a trot and try again... but how much was my fault, and how much their lack of training? Guess we'll see tomorrow!

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