Swapping leads on landing

What would you make of this? He’s turning 5 in April and this year we’ve spent a lot of time strengthening his hind end. He used to pig root at the canter quite frequently and that has diminished a lot the last several months. It’s still his go to move if he struggles with balance. He’s currently barefoot, I remember having to shoe my last horse because he just wouldn’t maintain the strength in his stifles. I’m trying to determine if this is as basic as him being young and not strong/coordinated enough, sidedness, a habit or anything else that’s not due to unsoundness. His X-rays were clean except for a small spur in the right hock but the lameness vet said it was highly unlikely to ever affect him. It also looks like he’s pushing off and landing on the right hind. He doesn’t do this going the other direction. Left is his weaker direction. Has anyone had a horse do this exact thing? What was the problem and the solution? We do a lot of hill work, walk poles, transitions, etc to focus on building a stronger hind end.
Here’s a link to video since it won’t upload

In the video, is the part you’re concerned about when he lands on the right lead and you do the simple change? or his little crossfire step after the last fence? I only ask because I didn’t see what I would call “swapping leads” anywhere in the video.

Typically when someone talks about swapping leads while jumping, I expect to see a horse that does a full lead change to be on the “comfortable” lead, regardless of direction. Usually they’ll do it 2-3 strides in front of a fence to jump from their stronger lead.


I had a video where I put every time on slowmo but it was too big for this forum. The TikTok video isn’t slowed down. He does it on every jump from the left lead. When he lands he will be on the left lead up front and on the right lead behind but only for a single step before he corrects it back to the left lead. I don’t know what else to call this besides swapping out behind and even then I’ve never seen this before to have a reference of what it’s called. I do suppose this is an improvement because he would always land on the right lead when jumping from the left lead.

Does he do the same thing if you use a longer release as he lands and finishes the jump on a straight line?

I wonder if he is thinking he’s about to land and turn after most jumps.

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That’s a fair statement since we land and turn a lot. His did do it on that outside line on the left lead over both jumps going straight. I was looking at my other videos from today and he did jump from the right lead landing entirely on the left lead twice today. I never noticed him doing it before because he would always completely land on the incorrect lead generally from left to right so I would have to do simple changes. He was so steady and good today I didn’t even perceive that he was doing this. Towards the end of our lesson today his swapping behind was getting more exuberant complete with pig rooting. I think he was getting tired, falling more to the forehand, with not enough strength to stay under himself so we ended and didn’t make it a “thing”. He was honestly super today. Wish he would go this well at the schooling shows :sweat_smile:

Cute horse! I call it “landing split,” and I see it in a lot of young horses as they work through balance and coordination. Outside leg in the air can help, and I like to continuously jump a cavaletti on a figure-eight to get them used to following through with their hind end and landing in better balance.


At least in one place it looks to me like he swapped off on takeoff. I would work on strength and straightness and better hind end engagement at the canter and see where that takes you. Also check your own balance and straightness and make sure you aren’t influencing a drift in one direction yourself. Sometimes it can be a matter of a slight lean in one direction, uneven stirrups, uneven leg strength, etc.

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Agree with this. I don’t think you’re thinking about straightness on the landing side at all. A lot of the time it looks like you’re thinking about turning way way early. I would think about riding three conscious strides of straight after each jump and then turn. I think it’s a combination of him being a little green/uncoordinated and you setting him up to think he’s always going to land and turn. I think if you think a little more consciously about riding straight away from the fence (and think less about where the next jump is) he’s do this a lot less and eventually it’ll click on that he needs to go straight on a lead after the fence and he’ll land united more often. Another good exercise is the chute on the ground before and after the fence. Helps the horse and rider.


Yes, to me he looks like an honest young horse that expects to land and turn.

In the meantime, as has been suggested, I’d work on riding straight lines, including some grid and gymnastic work.

I’d also try riding on a softer rein so he can find his balance without you holding him together so much. If he “pig roots” (I assume you mean dips his head and leans on the bit), then correct that for the moment but then soften again and carry on.


Agree with what others have said. It looks like you primarily ride his front end—try to ride his back end more. Concentrate on really coming in straight and landing straight. It could be the video angle, but coming into the vertical towards the camera his hips were noticeably over to the right.

He is very cute.

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I’m going to disagree. If he did it both left and right I would say strength/training. But it is only one way. And I didn’t watch it enough times to count, but it looked like every time he landed left. Sidedness is a physical issue. I don’t know when the lameness vet looked at him but I would send the vet the video for an opinion. He looks like a lovely young horse, well ridden.

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I agree with @Bonnie2. A journey I had with one young horse began with “weird” lead swapping and a seeming inability to track straight down a line, which we initially chalked up to lack of strength and training, and ended at the SI joint. No real big red flags, just little oddities that got progressively more pronounced over the course of a year.

Get a good lameness vet to take a serious look at the horse’s back and hind end.

If it’s getting worse, I’d call the lameness vet, but “sidedness” isn’t inherently a physical/lameness issue IMO. I know there are a lot of “sided” things I do on a daily basis that aren’t because of physical issues, but because it’s easier, and I don’t have to think as hard about it. Especially when you’re learning something new and are trying to figure out the coordination, it’s very easy, natural even, to rely on your “confident side”.


Yes! This has been something I’m focusing on when it comes to feel. I’ve ridden all my life but can’t feel the hind legs to save my life. He felt so light and soft here I didn’t think much of it because I was enjoying it. I’ve always been told to shorten my reins as a chronic reins too long kind of rider. Would going back to that and letting go of the front help in this kind of situation?

He’s adorable. I would get a lameness vet out since this is so consistent and he only does it landing on the left lead. I’ve always called it “crossfiring” and Tom Brennan mentioned this in a Judge My Ride video once that he feels like it’s linked to a hind end issue - I tend to agree. Doesn’t have to be a catastrophic hind end issue. If he’s barefoot behind, for example, it could just be that maybe he’s a bit footsore behind on one side more than the other and doesn’t like to put that much pressure on the landing on that one foot.

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It might. He may need more freedom in the front to let you ride/feel the back end better. You have a solid base and are sympathetic, so it may just be more of a mechanics issue.

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My wife is a farrier and she commented on that too. He was treated for thrush and has a toe crack on that side. I had really hoped to keep him barefoot for as long as possible but I think this is it. She also said how he’s flaring in the front and how narrow chested he is is going to put him at risk for developing side bone too. He also has just a smidge of NPA on the hind end.

Out of curiosity what is done for the SI? Is it a matter of strengthening? More body work? The thought of injecting him at 4 years young makes me sad. But I honestly don’t know much about it.

Don’t inject the SI until you get a diagnosis for what’s happening. There was a great podcast about barefoot shoeing and basically, it all just comes down to the horse. It’s definitely appropriate in most cases, especially when they jump, that they need that extra support since they don’t jump in the wild. I’m sure since your partner is a farrier you’ve heard that all before, though. :slight_smile:

One thing at a time is what I was always taught. Put some shoes on him, let him adjust, and then do some good flatwork that’s long/low and working through his back, trot poles, hill work, etc. To help him in the short term, when the vet is out, see if he’s sore in the SI do a chiro adjustment and 2 weeks of robaxin/bute to help with any residual pain from compensating for sore feet (if it’s that).

Once his feet feel better and the pain in the SI is better b/c he’s not compensating, it should also be able to get stronger b/c he’ll be using it correctly.

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We’ve already tried rest, chiropractor, muscle relaxants, and an anti-inflammatory, so injections have been scheduled. And yes, injections at such a young age make me :flushed: because what does that say about his future?

OP, I do not have the experience or the education of many of posters that have already commented, so please take this opinion with a grain of salt.

I watched the video through a few times. What stood out to me was that he appears to start off pretty even, but by the end of the course seems to get “stabby” (for lack of a better word) with the right hind. It seems most pronounced over the last three jumps, with the 3rd to last and last jumps being the most pronounced. It’s almost as if he can’t bring it up, under and through as comfortably as the LH. I would probably have a lameness vet out to do an evaluation.