PDA

View Full Version : How do YOU teach flying changes?



Jane Honda
Jun. 22, 2010, 01:51 PM
My mare is almost to the point where I'm thinking about flying changes now.


She goes on the bit nicely, moves away from the lightest leg pressure, can do shoulders/haunches in/out at the walk and trot, pirouettes at the walk, half pass at the walk and trot, and simple lead changes. The thing I need to work on now is a more smooth/solid transtion into the canter at all gaits. She was good over the winter, but life happened and riding got put on the back burner for a few months and her transitions went out the window. It's just a matter of getting both of us back in shape to get her transitions more crisp again.

In the interim, I'm researching on different ways to teach flying changes. This part of training has always been difficult for me to teach. For as long as I can remember.

So, I wonder how YOU all teach the changes. From the very first excersize to the finished product.

I'm always open to more ideas and new, fresh ways of teaching my super intelligent and athletic mare.



Thanks in advance.

Jumper_girl221
Jun. 22, 2010, 01:58 PM
I've always been blessed with horses that have natural auto changes, however, I've had a few that I've had to show. I start with simple changes using outside leg to cue for the canter and gradually decrease the trot steps between cantering. Eventually, they figure it out and do a half trot step, and then transition to full changes :) Another way is to work on them over a pole or a low fence.

Pennywell Bay
Jun. 22, 2010, 01:58 PM
I may differ a bit depending on my horse but I start basic. Once they are solid with their leads, I do the simple changes accross the ring. Then I put down a pole, canter it, I tend to overexaggerate the aids at first so there is no confusion to the horse that I am ASKING them to change - not just doing it on their own. This has worked well for me.

piaffeprincess98
Jun. 22, 2010, 02:15 PM
I actually just taught my OTTB changes on command last week in my dressage lesson. He sort of does them on his own when we're jumping a course, but he's more difficult changing from right to left (as many horses are, according to my trainer). This was my first time teaching a horse a flying change, and it was pretty cool!

She warned me that practicing changes might screw with his canter for a little while, but he has to learn first, then fine tune. What we did was canter down the long side (let's say in right lead canter). Make a half circle back to the track and bring your left leg back and move the haunches over to the right. You might have to exaggerate at first. Then "swing" your leg aids. My guy changed late a couple of times, but he's a quick learner, so he got it the four other times we tried. We gave him a break and a big pat between each one since he can get fried easily.

It might not work for every horse. By moving his haunches and throwing him a little off balance, he figured it out. I asked for a change this way in my jump lesson today, and he got it easily. He is not a candidate to learn over a pole because he likes to try to jump the pole.

bigbaytb
Jun. 22, 2010, 02:54 PM
my trainer always had me teach my horses the change over a pole once we had the simple change down pat. then she'd move the pole to where we'd need to ride more of a teardrop pattern to the pole to get the change.

worked for every horse and they always had a nice back to front change......except my current TB...he just won't change.

then one day we were foxhunting and having to do alot of in an out through the trees. he was changing like a pro on his own.....

he still won't give it when i ask..but he does it automatically over a fence now when on course ..and right now, on the flat..nope, not gonna happen....

Jane Honda
Jun. 22, 2010, 03:13 PM
Thank you guys for all the replies! You all rock!

snoopy
Jun. 22, 2010, 03:36 PM
Once your horse has developed from progressive transitions and moves on to direct transitions and absorbs those transitions on the hind end without leaning or losing balance then you can progress to flying changes. Start first with the simple change which is done via a direct transition thru the walk. I tis also important to note that canter (the gait) is not triggered with the rider's outside leg.

purplnurpl
Jun. 22, 2010, 03:48 PM
Once your horse has developed from progressive transitions and moves on to direct transitions and absorbs those transitions on the hind end without leaning or losing balance then you can progress to flying changes. Start first with the simple change which is done via a direct transition thru the walk. I tis also important to note that canter (the gait) is not triggered with the rider's outside leg.

blah blah blah Snoops. :cool:

That is my line of thinking as well. Then I took a lesson from our BNT last month. She reamed me for not making my horse do his changes.
He has autos in the jump field but I never ask for them.
She had me exaggerate BIG TIME my weight into the outside--so much that I felt like I was hanging off my horse--and make the horse move his haunch in.
Chah-ching!
Every time. I've been struggling for 4 years and now he gets it every time.

I'm guessing Mark Phillips is OK with this method because she rides with him...

I guess if I don't need to do tempis its fine for my horse to learn this way.
Not so much for a GP horse though. ;)

snoopy
Jun. 22, 2010, 03:56 PM
blah blah blah Snoops. :cool:

That is my line of thinking as well. Then I took a lesson from our BNT last month. She reamed me for not making my horse do his changes.
He has autos in the jump field but I never ask for them.
She had me exaggerate BIG TIME my weight into the outside--so much that I felt like I was hanging off my horse--and make the horse move his haunch in.
Chah-ching!
Every time. I've been struggling for 4 years and now he gets it every time.

I'm guessing Mark Phillips is OK with this method because she rides with him...

I guess if I don't need to do tempis its fine for my horse to learn this way.
Not so much for a GP horse though. ;)


WOW!



I can only hazzard a guess that as it is the horse's natural tendancy to canter with haunches in...in front of the leading leg that perhaps your horse was not actually carrying his weight on the inside hind leg (not straight..or truly engaged) and there for she may have been asking you to straighten the horse first before asking for the change. In any event, there are many roads to rome, and this in my experience, is not one of them. It would seem the the change was forced through lack of balance and self preservation from your horse.
Moving the hind quarters from side to side in the change is a fault.

Mor4ward
Jun. 22, 2010, 06:14 PM
I guess it depends on the horse, but with the ones I've had to teach a flying change, it's been the same.
Ride not quite a figure-8, but more like 2 D's back to back. Canter the half-circle, trot the straight line and ask for the lead of choice before turning into the next part of the figure. Decrease the amount of trot strides down the straight line, until it's one ... then none.

Be patient.

BeverlyAStrauss
Jun. 22, 2010, 07:02 PM
Great thread! I have used the pole, tried the simple change thing, and with babies at the track you can feel when they are tired after doing the turn or the straight and tug them over- but I am typically just happy to get changes on a jump course without asking though, or happy to balance around a turn on the wrong lead- I would love to be able to teach this and consistently be successful. One dressage friend establishes a balanced counter canter first before ever asking, counters around one end and then asks for a change to the inside lead around the next. Another hunter trainer- queen of the smooth flying change- does a half circle and as she comes back towards the track asks for a leg yield (moves the haunches) and then as she hits the fence/wall/whatever just asks for the new lead- but she warns the canter has to be balanced and straight and not rushed.....one trainer came to see some of the rescue horses and got quite a few good changes on several horses by changing direction and just asking with the correct aids for the new lead......looked like voodoo to me!

purplnurpl
Jun. 23, 2010, 10:26 AM
One dressage friend establishes a balanced counter canter first before ever asking, counters around one end and then asks for a change to the inside lead around the next.

It seems as though changing becomes harder when the horses are show ready comfortable with counter canter. I've heard this from many-a-trainer. And experienced it first hand. sigh...

Another hunter trainer- queen of the smooth flying change- does a half circle and as she comes back towards the track asks for a leg yield (moves the haunches) and then as she hits the fence/wall/whatever just asks for the new lead-

a leg yield or 1/2 pass? I was doing it off of a 1/2 pass, to the straight side (which then put you in counter canter) and change.
It worked 1/3rd of the time for me.
But I'm totally change deficient. ;)

one trainer came to see some of the rescue horses and got quite a few good changes on several horses by changing direction and just asking with the correct aids for the new lead......looked like voodoo to me...

I'm convinced changes are pure voodoo. LMAO! :lol:

As for now, I'll stick with Heather's method. It works for me and my now "hunter" pony. :cool:

Go search the DQ forum. We have had many a discussion over the proper way to change.

blackwly
Jun. 23, 2010, 11:16 AM
Just a couple notes: I would caution against doing the "half circle, change when you return to the track" thing on any horse that you plan to ride the eventing dressage tests on. This is the way the counter canter starts in prelim-intermediate tests and if you teach them to change in this scenario that can be a problem.

I also avoid changing the lead through the trot. This tends to encourage running on the forehand rather than collection. A "simple change", by definition, is performed through the walk. This helps to engage the hindquarters.

Snoopy is absolutely right that the outside leg is not the impulsion aid in the canter transition. Also swinging your weight from side to side may be an effective training tool - I don't know - but I wouldn't try it in competition.

So, my two cents: I always make sure that the horse has mastered the counter canter and canter-walk-canter transitions before starting to work on changes. In my experience, this means that most of my horses are prelim-level before I teach changes in the dressage ring. Then, I work on a figure eight of 2 20 meter circles in a fairly small area (dressage ring). I come off the left circle, collect the canter, transition to walk for several strides, change bend, and transition to right canter. Come back around the circle and do the same thing to the left. After several cycles I reduce the number of walk steps and eventually eliminate the walk, asking for the change from a very collected canter with exagerated aids relying on a change of bend and strong NEW inside leg aid.

This has pretty much always worked for me within a day, and then we practice it a few times in each dressage school for the next couple of weeks until it is well established. We then start making changes in different figures and other parts of the arena.

One final point: if you're having a lot of trouble, you probably don't have the right canter. This may be because the horse has not developed sufficient self-carriage. In my mind, this is the time to take a month or two off from the question, work on self-carriage and transitions within the gait (ie collection) and then try again.

Jane Honda
Jun. 23, 2010, 11:37 AM
Yeah, one thing I've noticed through the years with every horse, is that with schooling figure eights, they do start rushing and all balance and on-the-bitness(if I may invent the term) go out the window.

I will try doing simple changes with the walk and then I can solidify her transitions even more during schooling.


Another way I want to try is interrupted with her halt stopped over a ground pole. She is smart and eager to please enough that she will figure it out soon.

Thank you for all the replies. Keep them coming! You guys are the greatest!

Jane Honda
Jun. 23, 2010, 11:39 AM
We do have transitions within the gaits down pretty good. I'm sure we could do better, though.


If I may brag a bit, she has a fabulous extended trot!

n2dressage
Jun. 23, 2010, 04:10 PM
My next horse will learn changes before counter canter I thnk if he offers the change. My current horse back in the states can counter canter circles around other horses so doesn't see the real need in a clean flying change very often. I was talking to a judge at a show and she said she teaches changes first most of the time because if you teach counter canter first and they try to change then they are mostly getting scolded for changing so that makes it harder later on. It made sense. I think it depends on the horse as well.
I think the pole method is good but when the pole disappears I think you go almost back to square one. My horse was amazing over the pole but once it disappeared he was still like "huh?". I was watching Bruce Davidson warm up at Rolex and he did a lot of travers in canter on a 20 meter circle to clean up his young horses changes. That seems to be a good trick too. It forces them to use more weight on their outside hind so it is faster and stronger when you ask for the change so that it happens more back to front.

BeverlyAStrauss
Jun. 23, 2010, 05:30 PM
I had never heard of the established counter canter idea first and can see the potential for trouble but this gal swears by it. The queen said leg yield, even though intuitively I would have thought half pass- I guess it gets the bend right for the new lead. I think it is voodoo too, although if I could get the rescue horses to change on cue they would probably fly out the door into new homes!

Showjumper28
Jun. 23, 2010, 05:32 PM
It took me ten years to learn how to get collected changes from my mare on the flat. She would change automatically on course, or when in a hand gallop, but never in a collected canter. After many trainers (and lots of hair pulling) I finally figured her out. She would rush whenever I changed my aides for the new lead. So I decided to try being more subtle. All I did was change my shoulders, nothing else. Voile-la! Flying changes at the collected canter, back to front, every single time! Wish I had learned that about her ten years before...LOL

piaffeprincess98
Jun. 23, 2010, 08:21 PM
Just a couple notes: I would caution against doing the "half circle, change when you return to the track" thing on any horse that you plan to ride the eventing dressage tests on. This is the way the counter canter starts in prelim-intermediate tests and if you teach them to change in this scenario that can be a problem.

I agree, although I only used it in one lesson and he picked up the aids quite quickly since he is already doing some changes on his own when we jump. I tried using the same aids described in my first post in my jump lesson yesterday and he got the change easily, so I will probably not use the half circle exercise anymore. We're still schooling counter canter, although mostly on loops from the track to the centerline and back.

LaraNSpeedy
Jun. 23, 2010, 09:24 PM
I really think this thread is in itself a wonderful example on how horses are so different. But I think the approach is the same - and then like someone said - her BNT had her push herself onto the horse's outside aids etc - and after 4 years POOF she got the change now everytime - I agree with Snoops in that in that case, I am suspicious the BNT saw something in the horse's lack of straightness or something where the horse is weaker or stronger and used that method to match the horse.

Pretty much I start out the same with all horses and then if I am lucky - the basic start works. But for instance, some horses are more one sided... so we opt for counter canter work and lateral work- because of handying up the horse by strengthening the canter both sides. My WB HAD TO HAVE the counter canter work because he is SO powerful - just not immediately handy even though his dressage was pretty solid for the level.

Simple changes - figure 8s - lots of bend, straighten, bend, straighten with the canter. A lot of walk canter transitions. Then ask for the change over a pole and sometimes I make it a cross rail. Where I go with it from there depends on what is clicking with the horse.

I have a mare who worries and over tries. And she does great auto changes and goes front then back with the change because when asking - she tenses up upon being asked and over thinks it. SO, I am just taking a back step - keeping the changes simple - asking for leads over the fence etc. She just needs to get mentally farther along even though technically she is 'at' the right place to be starting to learn this.

On the other hand, I have a TB who is 15 who someone sold a client 3 years ago. Said he would never take the bit again - he was abused so bad - and he is pole legged and has fallen down twice with her just getting his legs tangled up. He could never jump anything closer together than 2 strides - he is huge, long and it was just too tight and he could not negotiate. He had been a field hunter.

Well, 3 years later his dressage is solidly training - he can go a bounce nicely - he has flying changes - he can shoulder in..... but I spent 3 YEARS just strengthening his hind end and teaching him to sit on his hind. When things came together - they just came together all at once. It was because we strengthened all the basics and completely retrained his self carriage / balance.

whbar158
Jun. 24, 2010, 10:53 AM
I agree simple changes are the way to start. Sometimes I have used a pole with horses that have offered nothing to help get the idea going. Some I have no had to use a pole as shifting the weight works and they understand that. Straightness is the main key I always make them have a few a strides perfectly straight before asking when teaching, that way they do not become too auto either. While it looks like my horse has auto changes when I am riding him you will quickly learn that is not true when you ride him. Same with a few other horses but really they are waiting for my weight to shift. Weight and straightness are the keys. For ones that get a little worked up a half halt helps as well so they keep their hindend engaged and not fall on their forehand.

For horses that are a little slow I see what they have to offer me every so often and when it feels like they are thinking about it I will work on them, if they still don't have a clue we may go over a pole to see or just leave it alone for awhile longer. If you really demand it early many horses will get very tense about it. I am firm that when change leads when I ask but if they don't get the flying right away I trot or walk and fix it. It is very important when they are learning to not cross canter or they will think it is ok. If they miss I quietly change and move on and don't make a big deal out of it while they are learning. Now if my trained horse is being a pig about it then I make a bigger deal, but at the learning stage you want to keep them quiet and relaxed.

I also find if you do this outside of the ring it will help. If you teach the horse the signal then counter canter should not be an issue. My horse counter canters easily because I am asking for that lead and he knows the difference. To me that is a big thing too that the horse knows its leads before learning changes. This can be done also on a straight line where they have to pick up the lead you ask consistently before you ask for changes. This will help with the counter canter later if they understand their leads well.

snoopy
Jun. 24, 2010, 11:34 AM
I agree simple changes are the way to start. Sometimes I have used a pole with horses that have offered nothing to help get the idea going. Some I have no had to use a pole as shifting the weight works and they understand that. Straightness is the main key I always make them have a few a strides perfectly straight before asking when teaching, that way they do not become too auto either. While it looks like my horse has auto changes when I am riding him you will quickly learn that is not true when you ride him. Same with a few other horses but really they are waiting for my weight to shift. Weight and straightness are the keys. For ones that get a little worked up a half halt helps as well so they keep their hindend engaged and not fall on their forehand.

For horses that are a little slow I see what they have to offer me every so often and when it feels like they are thinking about it I will work on them, if they still don't have a clue we may go over a pole to see or just leave it alone for awhile longer. If you really demand it early many horses will get very tense about it. I am firm that when change leads when I ask but if they don't get the flying right away I trot or walk and fix it. It is very important when they are learning to not cross canter or they will think it is ok. If they miss I quietly change and move on and don't make a big deal out of it while they are learning. Now if my trained horse is being a pig about it then I make a bigger deal, but at the learning stage you want to keep them quiet and relaxed.

I also find if you do this outside of the ring it will help. If you teach the horse the signal then counter canter should not be an issue. My horse counter canters easily because I am asking for that lead and he knows the difference. To me that is a big thing too that the horse knows its leads before learning changes. This can be done also on a straight line where they have to pick up the lead you ask consistently before you ask for changes. This will help with the counter canter later if they understand their leads well.


:yes: