A lot of people worry about teaching flying changes and, as a result, frequently over-ride them, which causes the horse to overreact.
However, they are key for flatwork as well as jumping, shaving off vital seconds in a jump-off. Regardless of your discipline they are a good technique to crack.
Try to make flying changes fun for your horse and make it a no-pressure affair.
How to teach the flying change
Once your horse is capable of a balanced, rhythmical canter, you need to teach him to make transitions within the pace. This involves going from an ultra-collected canter with short strides but lots of impulsion, through to a good working canter, on to a medium canter and back again easily.
Once your horse can collect enough to make a really good simple change of leg – coming right down to a stride or two of trot or walk before picking up the new canter lead – then you’re ready to try a flying change.
Really focus on your aids for the simple change and change of bend, because these aids are, in essence, the same as those used for the flying change – you just cut out the short bit of walk/trot in the middle. This means you need to give the aids a little more swiftly, but take care not to throw them at your horse as this results in over-riding.
Changes take time to perfect, so don’t worry if they’re messy to start with. Let your horse grow in confidence. In the beginning, just learning to get from one leg to the other is the aim. Then, over time, you can practice and refine them.
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