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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2012
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    215

    Default Unwanted flying changes... help!

    I have a horse that keeps swapping his lead when I straighten him out and i'm looking for some tips/exercises that might help.

    I got him in December and he was very 'stuck' in his canter. He wouldn't go forward and when you put your leg on he would do flying changes. We have worked out of that and he will canter forward/softly with light contact as long as I keep my inside leg on him. I have done a couple of shows at Training level and scored in the 70's. He will ride in a training level frame but I have to almost keep a slight shoulder in when cantering down the long side.

    The problem is that I would like to move to first level. We are now schooling all the movements beautifully, but when I ask for a lengthening down the long side I get tempi changes. It's so frustrating. It's like his brain thinks more collection + straighten out = flying changes.

    Any ideas how to fix this? My trainer is coming in next week to do a few training rides, but I have the weekend to play around with him.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2009
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    Default

    You need to practice the flying changes.
    You need to establish your own balance and cues.

    Practice a lot of counter canter, with counter canter to counter canter with a flying change.

    Shoulder- in at the canter are good! Travers (haunches-in) during the long side of at counter canter!

    Circles are your friends.

    And when all this is establish, you'll jump from 1rst to third level!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2006
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    8,602

    Default

    Do a very gentle single loop serpentine.

    In the beginning it can even start as "turn a little early up the longside, leg yield out." If he makes a mistake, walk (without rancor, just walk), promptly pick up the lead you were on and ride a small circle. Wash rinse repeat.

    Graaaaaaaaaadually increase the level of challenge and depth of the serpentine until he can counter canter a circle. Then he will hold the lead you ask.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 16, 2008
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    Central Oklahoma
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    Default

    What is the level of this horse's training? Are you sure you are not inadvertently asking for the lead change? What is the seat weight when you straighten him?


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
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    15,213

    Default

    Meupatdoes' exercise is a good and reliable one. It helps the rider, too, since we have to think about how we are asking a horse to stay on the counter lead.

    IMO, this horse finds it easier to jump up and switch leads than to go forward. He has helped create a training problem.

    For the rest, know that I come from HunterWorld and I'm a redneck who wants a horse very broke like a western horse. Ignore as you see fit.

    If the serpentines on one lead don't do it for your long-side problem, then I'd go back to getting the sucker to go forward from your leg. Nothing else gets you to let up-- not bucking, not flying changes, nothing but springing forward when you close your leg. When you have him offer you a gallop, relax, ride that and pet him on the neck while you are doing it.

    I wouldn't work on creating a distinct aid for flying changes until I had the horse back to knowing the more basic "leg means go forward" thing. Heck, I wouldn't do flying changes for a bit at all until I had a pretty reliable counter canter.

    If you ride well enough to make that distinction, great. But the horse so far doesn't agree. So if it were me, I think I'd be digging a hole for myself to work on both going forward and flying changes at the same time.

    Also, meupatdoes' advice about stopping and walking is good, too. Just make the horse's mind and body slow down for a sec when he's getting it wrong and starting to check out mentally.

    Take what you like and leave the rest.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


    2 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2002
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    525

    Default

    Ha! You have a smarty pants - good for you!! NEVER punish an unwanted change - you can correct, but do not punish. There is nothing wrong with riding in a shoulder fore- it is actually the correct way to align them at the canter. Without seeing it, I think you may be shifting your weight. Does it happen more in 1 direction than the other? Do you favor 1 seatbone. I am not being mean, but this is most often a rider problem (like most everything else). Sit in a chair with your hands under your seat bones (preferably when no one is around lol). Feel the canter in your mind - where is your weight? Does he change when you go out to lengthen or when you come back? You can also play with lengthening on a large circle.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 17, 2005
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
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    559

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ken View Post
    Ha! You have a smarty pants - good for you!! NEVER punish an unwanted change - you can correct, but do not punish. There is nothing wrong with riding in a shoulder fore- it is actually the correct way to align them at the canter. Without seeing it, I think you may be shifting your weight. Does it happen more in 1 direction than the other? Do you favor 1 seatbone. I am not being mean, but this is most often a rider problem (like most everything else). Sit in a chair with your hands under your seat bones (preferably when no one is around lol). Feel the canter in your mind - where is your weight? Does he change when you go out to lengthen or when you come back? You can also play with lengthening on a large circle.
    this was me my mare decided flying changes were an easier out than holding a correct canter. i made it worse because my seat bones are uneven, so i was 'allowing' her to do it.

    fixed it by getting us both more in shape (so she didn't have an excuse) and doing a lot of canter leg yields/ serpentines.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 20, 2005
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    Desert Southwest
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    What Gloria asked. If the horse has already had flying change training or experience, you will have to be very, very careful with your own seat and position when riding canter. A horse who knows his flying changes learns to enjoy doing them and takes any change of direction as an opportunity to show off his favorite "trick".

    My gelding had his auto changes "installed" when I got him. He was destined to be a jumper before his back injury. We had to "uninstall" the changes before I could ride First Level tests with him. The first time we schooled the shallow canter serpentine, he gave me flawless changes. It took a while to convince him that a change of direction did NOT necessarily mean a change of lead. Eventually he got the idea.

    First, I had to gain greater control of my own seat and position. I tend to be a loose-jointed person, and supple in all the wrong ways. I must consciously maintain core strength and posture. ANY weight shift at canter signals a flying change in my gelding's mind, so I have to sit very quietly.

    Alibi and Meupatdoes are absolutely right. Shoulder-in at canter and practicing leg yields at canter are your friends as you and your horse learn how to counter-canter. Doesn't have to be a big angle.

    Be aware of your own body. Do you shift about in the saddle AT ALL? If so, get control of that first. Practice core strengthening exercises.

    Be thankful you have a horse that apparently likes to do flying changes. They'll come in handy down the road!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2012
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    Default

    Awesome, I knew COTH wouldn't disappoint.

    Looks like our weekend will consist of serpentines and counter canter (not sure how much of that we will be able to get without a swap) while paying extra attention to my seat. I might also ride in my hunter tack and try to get a lengthening without additional collection.

    mvp - I stopped schooling changes a few weeks after I got him. My initial instinct was to stop them altogether and just go forward. I'm also primarily a hunter rider so what do I know... this excursion into the dressage world has been humbling to say the least .
    Gloria - I would say he was a second level horse with a nice lead change. I bought him through a dealer/trainer where he was on consignment. From what I gather his previous owner showed him in training/some first, then had financial difficulties and let him sit for a while before sending him to trainer to be sold. The trainer had him for a few months, showed him once at second (60%) and once at third (57%). His brain was a little fried when I got him so maybe they pushed/schooled him to hard so they could market him as a third level horse?

    I definitely think it is easier for him to do a flying change then go in a forward but somewhat collected canter. He canters nicely in a circle.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 16, 2011
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    540

    Default

    And keep the shoulder-in during lengthenings. It'll help.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 19, 2009
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    693

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    I had the same problem when we first started working on lengthenings, but my horse didn't "know" his changes. I had to fix two things:

    1. Seat - As everyone else mentioned, be aware of what your seatbones are doing. Shifting weight will get you the change.
    2. Outside Rein - I was blocking with the outside rein, and wasn't aware I was doing it.

    Thank goodness for instructors with good eyes! Once she got ME straightened out, the issue went away pretty quickly.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 16, 2008
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    Central Oklahoma
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    Default

    I think the first thing to figure out is whether he is doing changes based on his understanding of your request, or he is doing it because, well, he is tired of staying at the same lead.

    If he were trained and shown at 3rd level with 57%, there is a chance that he is changing based on his understanding. In this case, of course the fix is to fix your position. Make sure you are clear which side is inside; if you change side in your position, he is supposed to change lead. Your seat bone dictate which side is the inside, and which lead he should canter. For example, if you indicate to him that right side is inside, he should stay at right lead, or switch to right from left, if he is currently on left lead; conversely, if you indicate to him that left side is the inside, he should stay at left lead, or switch to left lead if he is currently on right lead. It does not matter the directions you are going. If you are going to right, but you indicate to him that left is the inside, he should remain on left lead (counter canter).

    If your position is correct and he swaps, well, he is either doing it because he wants to swap, or he is anticipating the swap when straightened, and does the swap for you. Either way, you as a rider needs to be attentive and correct him right when he thinks about swapping, "no, no, no, we are staying at this lead." No need to punish him, especially if he is trying to be a good boy by anticipating what you want. Just need to remind him to pay attention.

    If you are unsure, I will stay at circle for the time being until you can get your trainer to clarify and evaluate which is which. Also, shoulder-fore is correct, especially when the horse has started to develop collection.



  13. #13
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    Jun. 12, 2007
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    Westchester County, NY
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    Yes, riding in shoulder-fore is correct. You don't need to abandon your dressage saddle or collected canter. Just be very aware of your position. If you are trying to use your inside leg to straighten him, be sure your outside leg is positioned back so that you are also telling him to keep the lead.

    I'd recommend practicing lots of simple ring figures- different sized circles and serpentines with simple changes of lead, really focusing on your position on each lead. Then, I'd work on counter-canter, starting with the shallow loop from first level.

    Forget about the lengthening issue until you've worked on this a bit, and you have your trainer to help.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    Aug. 8, 2005
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    NC
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    One of the things I did with my horse was overbend and counter-bend back and forth around a circle and even back and forth while going around the ring. In my horse's case, when he got even the *slightest* but tired of being on one lead, he took any rider adjustment as an excuse for a cue to change leads. So the bending and counter bending was a good way to "desensitize" him to rider rebalancing/adjustment. He still isn't perfect but it has improved a lot. It also helps to keep mine very connected. If I just let him float along in a happy fluffy canter he'll swap off, but keeping him more in the bridle seems to keep all cylinders firing properly I think because he stays straighter.



  15. #15
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    Aug. 14, 2004
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    it sounds like rider miss-communication to me. you are inadvertently asking for the change and so horse responds.

    so your challenge is to see if *you* can ride a lengthening without asking for a change. perhaps start by training on a short diagonal and just pay close attention to what your seat/legs are saying to horse. it would be a shame to detrain the change instead of learning how to not ask for one



  16. #16
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    Jul. 17, 2005
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    Atlanta, GA
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreyDes View Post
    Thank goodness for instructors with good eyes! Once she got ME straightened out, the issue went away pretty quickly.

    isn't that usually how it works? ^_^



  17. #17
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    Feb. 6, 2003
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    Deep South
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    Frist - check your seat.
    ... _. ._ .._. .._



  18. #18
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    Perhaps some of the people who are advising OP to "look within" could give some tips as to what to look for?

    "Make sure your weight is in the right place" is not all that helpful if you don't know where the weight should be.

    Until someone taught me otherwise I thought the seat bones should be evenly weighted when cantering on a straight line regardless of which lead. So if I had just read "check your seat" at that time in my life I would be trying to hold a lead with flat seat bones and going blue in the face with misdirected effort.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    Perhaps some of the people who are advising OP to "look within" could give some tips as to what to look for?

    "Make sure your weight is in the right place" is not all that helpful if you don't know where the weight should be.

    Until someone taught me otherwise I thought the seat bones should be evenly weighted when cantering on a straight line regardless of which lead. So if I had just read "check your seat" at that time in my life I would be trying to hold a lead with flat seat bones and going blue in the face with misdirected effort.
    Without seeing what the OP is doing it is a bit hard to say how and when to do things. What if OP is crooked/collapsed on one side and his/her legs aren't placed properly? Or if s/he twist her body while pushing with her/his seat? Maybe it's the shoulder, maybe too light in the seat or gripping with the knees.


    That is why I suggest the OP to start learning the flying changes. With her trainer, the OP will learn what are the cues and how to balance to get or avoid them.

    Horses have phases while learning. It is normal for them to be confused, wanting to please and offer what they know! Or finding new ways to avoid to work!!
    OP, be patient, you'll overcome this in no time!

    And then, something else will pop up!!'



  20. #20
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    Feb. 6, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    Perhaps some of the people who are advising OP to "look within" could give some tips as to what to look for?

    "Make sure your weight is in the right place" is not all that helpful if you don't know where the weight should be.

    Until someone taught me otherwise I thought the seat bones should be evenly weighted when cantering on a straight line regardless of which lead. So if I had just read "check your seat" at that time in my life I would be trying to hold a lead with flat seat bones and going blue in the face with misdirected effort.
    Are you saying you were incapable of using your seat differently and seeing how it affected your horse ?
    ... _. ._ .._. .._



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