Flying Changes advice??
Any advice or suggestions to give my 6 year old OTTB? If he doesnt get the change after 5 strides, I do a simple change. He seems to get the flying change more when I ask him opposite of the canter cue. If he is on the right lead and I want the left I put my left leg behind the girth and right on the girth. he gets it 25% of the time and doesnt seem to get the hind end for other 4 strides later.
I am working on flying changes with my 6 y/o as well. Ours get really interesting and are a bit *ahem* "expressive"...
The first things that we need to make sure of it that the horse is comfortable, balanced and collected in true canter AND counter canter and that the horse can easily perform simple changes through the walk to and from true canter. The way I like to think of this is "can I do a simple change at every letter in the arena worth an '8'"? This includes A, C, X, I, D, etc...
When your canter is easily adjustable and well balanced then it is just a matter of getting the change done. You really need to not just let the horse get strung out, get pre-occupied with the change or just cruise along while ignoring your aids. The quality of the canter is number one and the change is number two. While we are teaching, we can forget about the frame, getting the flexion/bend changed at the appropriate time, etc.. YOU however, do not get any slack. Equitation and how you ride the gait must not change and the aid must still be perfect. The more you twist around and exaggerate aids, the more you throw the horse off balance.
It sounds like your horse is just losing engagement. An exercise I use to help this is:
Ride on a diagonal line towards x, let us say that you are on the left lead. Before x, collect the canter and go onto a 6-8m volte, bringing the haunches in slightly while keeping the forehand on the correct volte line. When the canter is well collected, jumping and still with impulsion (!!) ride onto the c-line in a shoulder in, and then continue on your diagonal line in a travers (IE half pass, the quarters don't need to be so far over as to constitute a true half pass). Near to the 3rd-4th track, use your right leg to straighten the horse (so the half pass turns into a leg yeild), count 1-2-3 IN THE AID to the change and think about your right leg to left rein connection (ie think shoulder-fore to the right) and similar to the aid for canter, on three the aid is complete and the horse should change. If not, kick with the LEFT leg, while leaving the right leg - left rein connection alone. The horse should jump through.
Remember -quality of canter! This means you can't lose the collection, impulsion or any of the quality of feeling you get.
This is how I do them.
He is on his right lead.
I put my LEFT leg behind the girth reinforcing the right lead. I sit down in the saddle getting the rythm. When he is suspended in the air between strides I suddenly shift my butt to the LEFT AND AT THE SAME TIME REMOVE MY LEFT LEG FROM BEHIND THE GIRTH AND APPLY MY RIGHT LEG behind the girth.
If you sit down in the saddle you can feel the motion, you feel when he is suspended at at that exact time I shift my butt and switch legs.
A change comes from behind, not the front and this sudden weight shift and leg shift throws him on the opposite lead.
Thanks for the posts! I will try them. I like the idea of sitting and feeling the moment of suspesion and at that moment asking with the opposite leg. This might work. I know that alot has to do with my postion as I think I shift myself way to much and get him off balance. He does real well at the simple change, but as a hunter it would be so nice to have changes on him/
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