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Teaching flying changes

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  • Teaching flying changes

    So it has been a few years since I've had to teach a horse how to do flying changes and was curious if there were any new training methods, "tricks" or something along the lines of teaching a horse their flying change.

    Horse is very smart, and very quick to pick up new things, but also a tad on the "hot" side, and does not like to do things wrong.

    Currently teaching him over a pole on the ground (meaning I have started it today for the first itme) worked about 85% of the time.

    Is there any new ideas/ methods out there for teaching a horse it's flying change?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    My trainer has us simply working on a figure 8. We are starting with simple changes (trot, pick up new lead). We will then move up to the flying changes on the same figure. No poles or anything, just the arena. We started yesterday and she was very good at it today! What you are doing sounds about right, but I know there are a lot of different views on how to teach it. Hope you can find something that works for you and your horse!


    • #3
      I like teaching over a pole on the ground and figure-eights too, although I do the simple changes through walk instead of trot. I find that walking rebalances them more and shows them a more thorough distinction between the gaits that you can eventually just eliminate to get the change.

      Canter-walk-canter is much clearer than canter-fast trantering type gait-rush into canter again. Of course, sometimes it is better to trot with the hotter horses and I am by no means saying trotting is wrong or doesn't work. It is just that in my experience, walking has worked better.

      Because the horse is hotter, you may also want to use different figures so he does not anticipate, such as half circles, turns across the short side, etc.

      Good Luck!


      • #4
        I think the issue is whether you are talking about lead "swap" as seen in stadium, or true flying changes. A true flying change is born from the canter-walk-canter (since the change is actually just a new canter depart).

        If you are talking auto swap (where no aid is given) then over a pole is probably the easiest. Remember that horses remember what they learn first. If he chronically changes late behind he doesn't know he's wrong.

        Good Luck!
        Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

        The Grove at Five Points


        • Original Poster

          Good point ACMEventing. I didn't think of that. i would like to teach him mostly for flat purposes but will carry over to the jumping field. I don't need auto changes per se, i'm training for the future- haha, if we ever move him up to where he'll need changes in the dressage arena. How would you differ the approach then- figure *, no pole? He's got the simple change and change thru the trot down. We've also down some walk canter, walk, canter on other lead, walk, canter on other lead, etc. to get him really tuned into the aides. def. don't want to teach him to change late behind.

          When using the pole, it does train the horse to leap onto the new lead- in a way, change up front first?

          I will definitely implement the figure 8 in his training.

          All great info, keep it coming.

          Thank you.


          • #6
            If you are worried he might get flying change anxiety could try teaching them while free lunging from the ground with voice command. Get them perfect from the ground/voice cue, and then attempt under saddle. This worked for my horse, although my horse is very in tune to verbal cues, and I was lucky enough to have a free lunging enclosure approx. the size of a small dressage arena (with long sides so he had plenty of space to change direction while cantering).


            • #7
              Originally posted by englishcowgirl View Post
              We are starting with simple changes (trot, pick up new lead).

              A simple change of leg is done through the walk. A direct transition (instead of a progressive) is a vital stepping stone in teaching the flying change. Your horse needs to be able to absorb the transition on the hing legs as well as compress his/her frame yet not the stride.


              • #8
                You can also teach changes at the end of a half pass or from the counter canter.
                "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ACMEeventing View Post
                  I think the issue is whether you are talking about lead "swap" as seen in stadium, or true flying changes. A true flying change is born from the canter-walk-canter (since the change is actually just a new canter depart).

                  If you are talking auto swap (where no aid is given) then over a pole is probably the easiest. Remember that horses remember what they learn first. If he chronically changes late behind he doesn't know he's wrong.

                  Good Luck!
                  +1 to this. Also, though it sounds like it is working great for the OP's horse, if you have a horse that tends to get excited about fences, sometimes the ground rail can work against you because the horse gets tense and reactive to that rift when you want her listening to you. I also agree w/the half-pass, once the horse has the general idea, because it really helps put the horse in just the right place to understand and respond to your aids for the change.


                  • #10
                    85 percent is very good for first time trying them. I think that is awesome!

                    I know that recently I observed at a Phillip Dutton clinic and he was pretty clear that changes must be forward....don't stop to get your lead changes, go forward and keep asking until he changes, then reward. Let your horse learn he must be balanced.

                    Riding event horses who must jump, they must learn how to swap leads before they learn fly changes in the correct manner for the dressage ring; those are not called for until what Intermediate/Advanced dressage tests? But even a Beginner Novice event horse has a change of direction in his stadium course.
                    I have some gray hair now but I think I would have a lot more if I waited until I was Advanced level to teach the proper flying change....in the meantime I don't think there is anything wrong with the "swap" even if it's a stride or two late in the beginning. They get better at it as they get older and wiser, in my experience.
                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                    • #11
                      I wish I could figure out how to teach changes to my 12 yr old. He just doesn't see the need to change, I think. He's really good at counter canter.

                      I'm going to try going to walk, instead of trot, for the simple change and see if he understands what I want him to do then. Never had a problem before getting a horse to do a change.

                      Good thread!
                      2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                      • #12
                        My trainer had me turn on the center line (or quarter line would work too I suppose), change the bend and leg yield away from the inside leg for several strides, then ask for the change before the corner. If the horse doesn't get a clean change, walk, and ask for the correct lead. It worked well for my horse!


                        • #13
                          I taught my pony flying changes which he can do quite well.