13.4.18

Riding exercise of the month: control the tempo of your flying changes

Whilst I've been riding my new horse Erkki for the last month now, I've been having fun trying to build up his strength in the canter and especially his flying changes. He has a tendency to rush through the changes if he's doing them across a diagonal, so I've had to get creative and think of ways that I can get him to slow down just a bit and start to listen to my aids and doing the change when I ask him rather than guessing when I'd like them!
The only thing that has really worked well with him has been to practise flying changes on a 20m circle! So if you're riding a circle at the middle of the arena, each time you get to the long side you ask for a flying change (so change at the E and B markers) and if after a couple of repetitions the horse starts to guess and take over, then start asking for the changes when you cross the centreline (so change at I and L if you're riding on 20x60 arena). By alternating where I've asked for the change, he's not had the chance to take over and he really starts to listen to me! 👏🏻 He is currently still weak behind so I can only ask for two changes on a circle because otherwise he struggles too much with his long legs! But I'm sure in six months time we will be able to do a couple more.

 Then if you want to make it into more of a challenge, you can ride four changes on each circle, so a change at each quarter of the circle. Because you're still riding a circle, the horse doesn't get a chance to charge off with you (this is why Vallu doesn't like this exercise hahah!) but it also helps the rider to ride the changes at the same exact spot - at least I find it easier on a circle than on a diagonal. The next step with the more advanced horses is to ride 4 or 3 time changes on the circle
Even if this sounds complicated, if your horse can do flying changes then this isn't too difficult for them! I also do this exercise with Basse but instead of flying changes I do canter-trot-canter transitions in the same spots. I've found that SO many people avoid doing flying changes on a circle but it is not anymore difficult than doing flying changes on a diagonal or down the long side - for me these are actually easier because I'm more aware of my aids,  it makes me set up each change and the circle help me to really control the tempo.

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