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How to Ride a Change of Lead Through Trot

How to Ride a Change of Lead Through Trot how to dressage


A change of lead through trot is a way of changing the canter lead.

In essence, it’s canter-trot-canter.

The difference between a ‘simple change’ and a ‘change of lead through trot’

It is very important to be clear that a change of lead through trot, is NOT the same thing as a simple change of lead.

A simple change involves canter–walk–canter with NO trot, where a change of lead through trot does not include any walk steps.

A lot have riders have confused the two movements and rode the wrong way during their dressage tests, throwing away lots of valuable marks.

Where will I be asked to perform this movement?

There are two main places in an arena where a dressage test may ask you to perform a change of lead through trot, and riding each of these requires a slightly different approach.

  1. In the middle of two half circles
  2. On a straight line across a diagonal

How to ride a change of lead through trot

On two half circles:

Towards the end of your first half-circle (which may be either 20-meters or 10-meters), you should make a transition to trot a couple of strides before reaching the center of the movement, where you will have to change direction.

Help your horse to find a balanced and not hurried trot.

As you approach the mid-point (in trot) ask your horse to change bend and begin riding the second half-circle.

A couple of strides onto the second half-circle, ask for the new canter strike off. Make sure your aids are clear, with your outside leg well back and your shoulders turning in the new direction.

On a straight line:

This can be slightly trickier, as you must change lead without the assistance of changing direction.

As before, on approach to the place where you are to make the change of lead (let’s say, X), balance your canter and ask for a downward transition to trot.

Make sure you have enough room before you arrive at X to get a really balanced trot. Take the time and make sure you do this – trying to get back into canter from an unbalanced trot will result in running and possibly a wrong strike off.

Once your trot is in balance, turn your shoulders slightly towards the direction of the new lead and think about moving your horse’s shoulders slightly that way as well.

Step a little more firmly onto the new inside stirrup (weight aid).

Ask for a little flexion towards the new direction – not a full bend, as that will push him onto his (new) outside shoulder, resulting in a wrong strike off.

Sit down and ask for the new canter lead, with clear aids (outside leg clearly back) and keep a firm contact to prevent running forward.

Sit up and prepare for the approaching corner.

In conclusion

To ride a good change of lead through trot, your ingredients are:

  1. A balanced downward transition
  2. Leaving enough time before you arrive at the midpoint of the movement to balance the trot
  3. Clear positioning towards the new lead
  4. Clear aids for the new canter
  5. Keeping a fairly firm rein contact to prevent running forward.

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