Flatwork for Jumping Part 3: Starting Flying Changes

In Part 3 of Flatwork for Jumping, we take a look at flying changes.

Before any of my young horses go to a show, I teach them how to do a flying change. In training sessions I teach them that when they change the rein in canter they automatically change the canter lead.

It is important that the horse learns to change the sequence of legs and keep himself balanced. You’ve probably all read the books on the aids to use, but my horses can’t read so I like to use a simple schooling technique.

Set up a simple cavaletti or use a small jump. Place it across the diagonal and then canter across it. See the sequence below. If your horse doesn’t change the lead initially, continue with the change of rein, then use a downward transition to change the canter lead. He will soon get the idea.

Training at home like this creates an understanding in the horse that when they change the rein they automatically change the sequence of the legs. Creating this habit means your changes will become simpler, quicker and much easier for you to execute. Don’t ride it as a jump, just allow your horse to pop over.The cavaletti encourages the horse to exaggerate his stride making it easier for him to change his leg as you change the rein.

I can’t emphasise the value of your groundwork enough. With it you have solid foundations for success over jumps.

Without it you may be able to jump but you’ll come unstuck as you tackle more complicated tracks.

Next week, we'll start to jump, so here's a bit of homework based on the last few weeks:

Re-check your position - stay in the centre of the horse, put weight into your heel, create an L shape at your elbow;

Practise proper warm ups, ensuring that both you and your horse are prepared for the tasks at hand;

Ensure that your horse keeps cantering when you ask him to shorten or slow down his speed so he doesn't lose his rhythm;

Make sure your walk/canter transitions are in place and think of trot as a separate entitiy.

See you next week...

Tim Stockdale

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