March 30, 2013

Flying Changes

Full rainbow over the barn after our amazing ride.
I think the rainbow is somehow a sign of something!
Tonight I decided to start officially schooling flying changes. Back when Rose was four she randomly started doing them any time she didn't want to transition down to the trot from the canter on figure eight work. I went with it at the time but didn't have much more time riding/practicing them as I was pregnant and my riding days soon came to an end.

Aside from asking her to do them in a figure eight I wasn't sure how to properly train her to do a nice quiet and balanced flying change. Although she's done quite a few times on the figure eight they's always been a bit of an un-balanced struggle. Since I've never had to train a horse to do flying changes before, I thought it would be best to have some professional help to me learn how to teach her to do them properly.  However, my plan to start lessons with an awesome local hunter trainer are on hold due to her barn being on a post-HITS Ocala EHV1 quarantine (seriously, this seems to happen every year at HITS what is the deal?), and my dressage trainer only works at our barn weekday mornings when I do not have child care options, I decided to do a bit of research before tackling it on my own. A visual learner, I sifted through some entirely questionable videos on YouTube until stumbling upon Jane Savoie and a couple heavily accented German dressage trainers who actually seemed to know what they were doing. Thanks to their combined expertise, I devised a plan and put it into action.

Here was the plan:

1. Start with a really good warm up. W-T-C, lots of shoulder in, haunches in, side pass, circles, collection work, etc.
2. Heading down the long side on the left rein, pick up trot, ask for collected canter.
3. Canter collected, in half seat, short side and head down the short diagonal (P X S).
4. Just before S and all at the same time, change bend to right, sit the canter for a stride or two, bring left leg back asking for change of lead, tap of dressage whip if needed. Do not throw my body around, stay balanced and in the center of the saddle no matter what.
5. Reward for any attempt at switching leads, whether or not it was successful, only a partial switch front or back, etc. Keep it fun!
6. When she got a fluid perfect change, praise the heck out of her and end on a good note.

It took us five attempts before we got a perfect and balanced flying change. When we finally got it, it felt like heaven! I was so very happy with my girl and she seemed to really be enjoying figuring out something new. I cannot wait to work on them some more and keep building on it so that we can eventually work them into course work. Fun times ahead!

I am also happy to report that the cross tie wiggles seem to have been eliminated for the most part. Once in a while Rose still wiggles a bit when she hears a weird noise or something down the isle way (cat fights, etc.) but otherwise she has quickly figured out that standing nice and quiet in the middle = cookies and lovin'. I am very happy about this. Grooming and tacking up, even with praise and cookies, goes so much faster when I'm not having to dance around her.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


  1. Glad everything is going well. Rose seems like a smart girl :)

  2. Love Jane Savoie, she's got awesome advice! Glad everything is going well!

  3. Lovely rainbow/sky pic! Sounds like Rose learns quickly - smart mare :)

  4. Nice work! Sometimes it takes a bit of sleuthing to figure out a way to learn what we need to learn, in a way we can process. Thanks for the reminder/ I'm a visual learner, I do best when watching someone who rides well. (and also hear clear, sensible, instruction) New plan: audit trainer's saturday lessons!

  5. Good job! You're doing awesome with her. :D



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