Watching Laura Graves and Olympic bronze medal-winning partner Verdades (aka “Diddy”) cheerfully skipping across the diagonal of the arena during the FEI World Cup™ Finals Dressage Musical Freestyle in Omaha this March—on their way to a score of 85.307% and second place finish overall—it’s hard to see the endless hours of time and dedication behind each, seemingly effortless tempi change.

For most of us, securing one lead change correctly and when we want it is often challenging enough. But, as Laura explains in her latest video for the US Equestrian Learning Center, teaching your horse to make changes correctly and eventually, to make them in sequence in a series of tempi changes, is all a matter of balance and proper canter positioning. Equally critical is how you manage your horse’s expectations throughout the process, as well as acting as your own monitor for quality control—taking breaks and even days off in your training as needed.

“Trying to teach changes to a horse who’s not ready or doesn’t have the information to learn them properly will only cause you problems down the road,” Laura explains.

From successfully mastering a single, basic change, to counting down your tempis, you can learn Laura Graves’ four steps (and bonus tips!) for training better lead changes here or watch the teaser video below:

For more knowledge and information from top athletes and equestrian experts on a wide range of topics—including horse care, training, safety and welfare—visit the US Equestrian Learning Center. Gain full access to all the videos in the Learning Center library by joining US Equestrian starting at just $25/year. Other highlights from the dressage library include: 

-Featured photo by Shannon Brinkman.