Monday, June 09, 2008

100 Degrees and Counting

It's Too Darn Hot

But, bless my school Principal who gave me an air conditioned room to teach in. I was on his list of people who need to be rescued from horribly hot classrooms.

Meanwhile, the Boys are hanging out in the barn in front of their fans. The heat is supposed to break tomorrow night with thunderstorms, so I am hoping the forecast is right on.

So, I will take the time to hold court on the flying change, counter canter issue. I've read several articles about it since which do hold with the principles of training I have always believed in, so that always makes me feel good.

The idea, is to develop the flying change out of the counter canter, and only when the counter canter is established. This is to develop a straight and correct flying change.

Interestingly enough, when I did get the two lovely changes from Tucker, both came from a very well balanced and engaged counter canter. I collected him in the counter canter, switched the bend and the leg aid probably at just the right time, and there it was.

Now, I do have the advantage of having trained three other horses to change and have Toby as a well established "flying changer" to ride to settle my brain around just when I need to give the aid. You really need to ask when the horse is off the ground, just ready to strike through with what will be the new leading hind leg. And, of course, the horse has to respond to the new leg aid with a surging, longer stride on that hind leg to get the change. Sounds complicated, but if you do ride a trained horse, it is surprisingly easy to "feel" just the right moment.

With Tucker, the big thing is the balance. If he is light on his forehand and engaged in back, and able to collect the gait, he can manage. One of the articles suggests that before you train the changes, the horse needs to be able to counter canter a ten meter circle. That is, if you think about it, a rather challenging exercise. I am reasonably sure Tucker can manage that on the left lead, but I doubt his right lead can handle it.

As a cool aside, here, I taught PJ the flying change by using the half pass. He simply could not get the concept from counter canter, nor changes of direction (used with Toby and Russell R.) so I had to adapt. I would do a half pass from the centerline to the rail, riding it with slight bend so at the end the change of bend would not be a huge change. Then I cued with the outside leg, changed the bend, and he got it. Very interesting. Again, all dependent on some of the other basic exercises being firmly established before challenging him with the changes. He too was very good at the changes, but, unlike Toby, did tend to get a little rattled sometimes at the tempis. If he got worked up, he'd miscue. Toby would go like a metronome. But that was mainly a difference in temperament rather than training.

Be assured, once this weather breaks, I will be back in the saddle testing the theories. And I will definitely be working that counter canter to make sure it is solid and correct on both leads with an emphasis on the right to develop his strength.

I did mow the lawn last night, so things don't look quite so out of control as far as the grass goes.

Don't know if I am up to any outdoor work challenges tonight. It's just too darn hot.


  1. Gosh Jean, your blog sounds like a dressage book ^-^
    Very interesting to hear from your own experience. I liek the way you place the horse and then "let it" happen :-)

    Funny weather here. warm and stormy. But lost of rains ... at last.

    Can you email me I would like to ask you something off-line? My email is

  2. Very interesting, thankyou. It was fascinating a week or so back to ride my friend's horse who is established in a single change - it was very easy to judge the aid, much easier than I thought it would be.

    Can't you ask online so we can all share the learning Muriel? Or is it about one of us .......


  3. oooh, sounded a bit paranoid that :-)))