August 19, 2016


As the David Bowie song goes "Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, Turn and face the strange".

That kinda sums up my flying change training technique. Granted I can't take credit for it. I was inspired to try this method when I was watching a Buck Brannaman clinic in Bozeman a year and a half ago. He randomly talked to the crowd about teaching western horses their flying changes. I liked his method more than what I'd been taught to do in the past. That being ride straight toward a wall and make the horse swap...or ride into a wall. Really, I've never been a big fan. Buck's method used small baby steps that slowly and successfully get built on until the horse naturally does the change. I absorbed everything he said and filed it away, knowing that I would be putting it to use one day.

That day was yesterday.

I have been working up to asking Gentry for a flying change over the past couple of weeks. I knew he was capable, as he does them in the pasture all the time and on occasion would do one voluntarily after picking up the wrong lead. Given that caveat, by dressage trainer suggested that we train him to do flying changes now, and capitalize on his malleability.

So I did. I can't wait until she gets back from Germany so I can show her!

What I've been doing to work up to the flying change:

Ride down the long side at the canter. Do a 10m half circle and canter back to the long-side on the diagonal. At the rail break into trot and do a simple change picking up the canter again in the other direction. Repeat in each direction a few times.

I did this a for a few different sessions until it was clear that Gentry had memorized the pattern and knew what to expect.

Then I went for it. After changing direction by cantering down the diagonal, just before the rail, instead of a simple change I and asked for the flying change. KABOOM! He picked it up perfectly. I was so proud of him we quit on that good note. I can't wait to try it out again.

Hooray for changes.


  1. Awwww! What a good boy! Sounds like a good technique too! I'll see if I can Google it!

  2. Yay Gentry! Hampton most certainly did not pick them up that fast. Took us nearly 3 years to have reliable changes!

    1. Well, I wouldn't say they are automatic yet. But a step in the right direction!

  3. Awe good boy. Sounds like a good way of doing it. Sometimes I think half the battle is getting the horse to understand that simply you want a certain lead a certain way, some are so balanced on the counter, I'm sure they are like why bother? Gentry is quite the guy :)

  4. How exciting! Also, I love the idea of this exercise, but I'm a visual learned and totally need a diagram, LOL

  5. I too am visual but had the benefit of watching it. I'll see if I can find some time and draw it up...or maybe make a video!

  6. That is so awesome! Filing that away in my bag of tricks :)



Related Posts with Thumbnails