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Is He Beginning to Understand the Aids for the Flying Change?

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  • Is He Beginning to Understand the Aids for the Flying Change?

    So I know there are a variety of posts on the flying change and I have read a bunch of them but I am not wondering how to teach it but whether or not you think my horse is beginning to understand what I am asking.

    The horse is well balanced, moves off the leg, I have control over his hind end, etc. He has a counter canter to die for. Personality wise he is a big lazy boy who does the minimal amount of work possible but really wants to please...Mostly when it's not hard! But no, he really does try to follow directions.

    When I ask him out of a balanced canter (if you ask him out of a counter canter he gets super confused and somewhat stressed - I'm working on de-stressing it) to do the change you can feel him shift his weight and do EVERYTHING with his body to prepare for the change and then happily continues in counter canter. I know there are a few tricks to getting the change and what have you but my question is whether the "weight shift" is a precursor. Is he beginning to understand the concept?

    I got one clean change last week but none this week. I'm not panicking over the changes but curious to know whether he's thinking the right things. His two answers for the aids are to either perform the FASTEST simple change you've ever seen (I can't prevent it with all the leg in my body) or to shift his weight and continue with the counter canter.

    He's a left lead chap - as in he prefers to land on left lead - his right lead is balanced and even but if you asked he'd say he prefers the left. It takes some serious work to get him to land from his jumps on the right lead. This is why I am teaching the changes in the first place - not actually for a dressage test but for an all-around balance.

    Thank you in advance to all of you lovely advice givers and "in the same boat"-ers!

  • #2
    For good clean flying changes the quality of the canter is important. The horse must have the ability to do good clean walk-canter-walk transitions. He also needs to have a little "jump" in his canter. It is during the "jump" phase that the change occurs.

    And yes, initially they are stronger one way than the other.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


    • #3
      I'm at the same point as you and my horse behaves the same way. He's not as "handed" as your guy though.
      When my horse tries really hard he gets it behind but not in front.
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • #4
        You aren't describing what happens with the contact, bend and flexion. For me, that is where the horse has the light bulb moment-- when the horse accepts the new outside rein and changes flexion and bend. You should feel the horse's barrel move away from your new inside leg.

        The canter does need to have a lot of jump in the canter as merrygoround points out, and needs to be going forward with enough impulsion that he cannot make a quick simple change.
        "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


        • #5
          I thought to revisit the flying changes this week and am happy to report that my guy has made the connection between the aides and the movement. Up untill this point we have simply played with the changes and the walk-canter-walk transitions (both on the long sides and on the circle). When the canter/balance seemed just right I would occasionally ask for and get a change or two in each direction. He has always been just a little bit stickier on one side--so I always aim to begin and end on his easier side.

          Its been a slow process of developing and helping him make the connection with out getting an over enthusiastic reaction or creating tension when my aides are too big or surprise him. Even when he does interject his enthusiasm he is still immediately rewarded for his effort--he does think the changes are very exciting.

          At this point I still intend to take it slowly and only occasionally play with the changes. Now that he has made the connection between what I am asking and the actual change itself we will work at using smaller lighter aides and see how that goes.

          Very True what EH has just posted!
          Redbud Ranch
          Check us out on FB


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
            You aren't describing what happens with the contact, bend and flexion. For me, that is where the horse has the light bulb moment-- when the horse accepts the new outside rein and changes flexion and bend. You should feel the horse's barrel move away from your new inside leg.
            Well that's the funny part with him. He is light off of contact, bends in the new direction and flexes. His barrel moves away from my new inside leg, he takes a deep breath... And then continues on in a very well balanced counter canter.


            • Original Poster

              Oh and he does have great walk-canter-walk transitions, knows his left from his right and does clean changes on his own on a straight line when cantering and galloping down the beach! Although I'm sure a lot of them do this.


              • #8
                Doesn't sound to me like he knows what you want, and that the occasional change you get is not concious on his part. Some horses that are really flexible and countercanter really well, do have a hard time getting the concept--why should they change when they can cc so well. You may have to resort to a few tricks to get him to change-- and when he does, reward the heck out of him so that he will begin to understand, "YES! THAT'S what I wanted you to do."

                And by all means, stop countercantering him! If he can already do it so well, you are just making him stronger and better at countercantering!
                "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
                  You may have to resort to a few tricks to get him to change-- and when he does, reward the heck out of him so that he will begin to understand, "YES! THAT'S what I wanted you to do."

                  And by all means, stop countercantering him! If he can already do it so well, you are just making him stronger and better at countercantering!
                  Hahaha. I was afraid that was going to be the answer. I was all excited to try the counter canter circle and then ask for the change but he just went "oh, this is easy! I can counter canter whist flexed to the inside all day!" Crap. What tricks do you suggest? Is it better for a horse like him to do perhaps a left lead, walk, right lead, walk, left lead? He's great at canter transitions. He does really seem to stress over being asked for a change on a counter counter or out of a bend. The more pressure you put on the new outside leg whether it be a whip tap or a leg the more stressed he gets...


                  • #10
                    There is going to be some confusion or stress in the beginning because the horse wants to please and doesn't understand what you want him to do. So it is important that you get a change (even if messy and stressful) so that you can reward him.

                    There are a variety of different exercises that you can try. Some people like the change of direction in a tear drop shape figure off the long side over a ground pole before going back to the long side. You ask for the change when you are going over the ground pole back to the rail.

                    Or I always had success with renvers across the first half of a diagonal line and then travers and ask for the change. That really accentuates the bend and new outside aids. You can set them up for this by doing it in the trot a few times first and then when you get at the point where you go from renvers to travers then ask for the canter on the true lead. Rinse and repeat. With a smart and willing horse, they begin to anticipate and anticipation is really your friend in this situation. The horse will anticipate the true canter depart in the direction in which you will turn, so when you do it from the canter on the other lead he is still anticipating that change.

                    It is important not to worry about it being messy. You need to break a few eggs before you can make an omelet. Once he has the lightbulb moment, you can easily get "pretty." However you do it, when you get that change make a big fuss. I usually dismount, give treats and pats and bring him back to the stable on the first couple of changes.
                    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


                    • #11
                      I found this excersize to be helpful for teaching the balance/inversion of the aides for Flying Changes.

                      Diagram : http://images.worldsoft-cms.info//wc...mages/2379.jpg

                      In a nutshell:
                      1) Strike off Right Lead Canter,
                      2) Put the horse in Counter-Bend Postion/Weight the Inside Seatbone/Postion the Horses Shoulders to the Inside--transition to walk.
                      3) Change Leg Position/Strike off to outside Leg in Renver Position=Transition to Walk-Reward. Rinse Repeat until the horse offers no hesitation/tension.
                      Redbud Ranch
                      Check us out on FB


                      • #12
                        goodpony, the OP already said that he can countercanter on a circle flexed to the inside all day.

                        Here's a kind of drastic one IterAndEra.

                        Make a 20m or 15m circle at the short closed side of your arena tracking right. Then change direction through the circle from the open side of the circle to the rail side. Do this a lot in the trot until it is smooth. Then pick up a true lead canter tracking right change direction and bend through the circle facing the rail. Use the rail as a half halt, you do the turning. Lots of times this tricks their bodies into making the change to avoid smashing into the rail.
                        Like I say- that's kind of drastic and I have only used it as a last resort.
                        "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller