Flying changes. Part 1.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 07:34 PM
My mare Merlin's Regala aka Chica has done quite well in Second Level this show season. Her canter has been slowly improving and she is learning how
to stay round and use her back better. It is time to start working toward flying changes with her. I will document our progress in my blogs. This will be an interesting
project to share with my readers and writing about it may help me to analyze problems better. I am sure some will arise during the work. Right now I am getting her
more prepared for changes, working on more straightness and roundness in canter, responsiveness to my leg aids, transitions and lateral work. Lets elaborate on that.
Before attempting flying changes a rider must make sure:
- Her/his seat is supple enough to stay easily connected into horse's canter on both leads
- Stay connected during transitions in and out of canter (either trot or walk)
- Feel how straight the horse is, where is his shoulders and haunches during canter
- Able to effortlessly ride counter-canter staying supple and balanced
For the horse the following prerequisites are highly desirable. Jumper riders teach their horses flying changes very early and do not pay enough attention to
straightness, being on the aids or cleanness of the changes. In dressage these aspects are very important:
- Easily picks up leads from trot or walk
- Able to counter-canter large or on 20 m circle
- Able to canter in shoulder-fore position
- From walk picks up counter-canter if asked either direction
- Responds to half-halts well and allows a rider the control of tempo and length of stride
- Able to canter sideways ( leg-yield or shallow half-pass)
Not all of the above points has to be very established. However, they must be well on it's way. If a horse doesn't pick up leads well from trot or walk flying change
will not happen or be on the aids because the horse doesn't know the aids for canter depart. Flying change is nothing more but a canter depart from another lead.
Transitions to canter must be calm, straight, balanced and smooth. It should be very familiar to a horse to perform counter-canter, to be asked to start counter-canter
and to be able to stay calm during work with several transitions from walk to canter and back to walk mixing leads and length of canter pieces. Then the horse is ready
physically and mentally to start working on flying changes.