Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mike Boyle shares lead change secrets.

In his Saturday evening session, Mike Boyle discussed the importance of body control in lead changes. "Getting control of your horse's body is really the secret to success," he said during his session. "You have to be able to control the front and back end of your horse independently and maintain forward motion to get correct lead changes."

Breaking the lead change elements down into component parts, Boyle taught the four riders in the session how to control their horses' hips and shoulders to achieve lead changes. When changing leads, the horse will be required to tip their nose and their hip in the direction of the new lead, so riders practiced this at a walk, and then progressed to the lope.

Once loping, however, Boyle emphasized the training needed to keep your horse from anticipating the change. "Changing in a straight line is a harder change, but it allows you to see how well you have control of your horse's momentum and hips," he said. "A directional change on the circle is easier, but the danger is that your horse could start to expect that every change in direction means a lead change."

Boyle encouraged the riders to use counter-cantering as a training tool, as this reinforces that a directional change doesn't mean a lead change. "One upper level drill that you can teach your horse is to do a counter-canter to counter canter lead change," he said. During this maneuver, the horse still changes at the centre point of the figure eight, but they hold a counter-canter on each circle.

"Lead changes are all about body control and forward motion," he said. "Once you have these tools, then you'll be ready to change."

On Sunday, Boyle will be offering his final clinic, which will be on the rollback and trouble-shooting.

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