THE QUESTION OF THIS MONTH IS RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES! (Send yours to us for an answer) The Newest:
QOTM: I need flying change exercises. I’m currently doing them sporadically whenever I can just pick up the canter and just go until he’s not thinking about it and then throwing one in. Ideas?
BILL— Flying changes are complicated “until they aren’t!” There are a whole bunch of exercises, but which can be most useful often depend on your horse’s attitude towards the whole project.
Yes, a balanced counter canter is a major steppingstone. You can take advantage of a certain amount of anticipation by doing them a few times in the same place, then changing things up enough that you are sure he will wait for the actual aids and not get too far ahead of you.
I prefer doing them in the beginning at a point where it is clear he should come to the other lead – that is either at a corner or at a turn where you can simultaneously change the direction and the lead. Examples: counter canter on the long side with the change at F before the corner turning towards A; cantering the diagonal and holding the lead through the corner. Changing before the second corner as you turn onto the next long side; turning across the arena on the perpendicular from E to B and asking for the change at the second quarterline before the right turn.
It’s also helpful to be pushing the horse a bit laterally into the direction of the old lead (which will become the new outside after the change). In a space larger than a standard arena, ride counter canter on the 20 meter circle. Ride an expanding half pass pushing the horse onto a larger circle and into what will become the new outside leg. Be sure to change your leg position a stride before you want to give the actual change indicator. That new outside leg behind the girth is the “cue,” but support it with the new inside leg active at the girth.
One thing to remember is that if you don’t get the change, most of the time the solution is NOT to use stronger aids the next time. instead, go back and use other exercises which will sharpen him without making him angry— quick trot/halt/trot transitions, leg yield and counter leg yield a few steps each emphasizing how promptly he will shift his balance and answer your seat; combinations of forward then yield then halt then back then forward then yield the other way. Anything that quickens him to the aids and makes his balance more readily adjustable.
Another good one is to ride counter canter and leg yield him away from the rail to the quarter line. Immediately half pass back out to the track. Do it twice and the third time instead of leg yielding, change the bend, turn onto the beginning of a 10 or 15 meter half circle and immediately ask for the change.
Asking over a ground pole In the beginning can also help him understand and not worry too much.
Try those for starters. Which ever ones you use—and there are plenty more—a critical factor is to be sure that your hips and the horse’s motion are in sync. Even just for a single change, always count down to it. Don’t just count down “intellectually,” but feel the count through yours and your horse’s bodies. “THREE TWO ONE CHANGE!” On the three and the two be making your horse straight and balanced with half halts in the rhythm of the stride. At “one” move your former inside leg back to become the new outside leg. At “change” firmly use that leg behind the girth while your new inside hip slides forward, your new inside leg at the girth activates the inside hind, and the new outside rein half halt makes the old leading foreleg wait.
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When all else fails, go to the mirror! But regardless, DO pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
And this is a photo I took in Hamburg proving once and for all that Germans do fast food with dignity.
[A Note from Bill]
Let me introduce our Associate Editor, Hayden Finch. “Sidd” worked with us back in the ’80s when Susan and I edited A Tip of the Hat, the New England Dressage Association’s newsletter. Prior to beginning his career in journalism, Sidd scratched his competitive itch with a brief foray into professional baseball. In his first stint with us, Sidd penned this alternative biographical sketch of me for the Dallas Dressage Club newsletter publicizing a clinic I did for that group:
Bill’s bio courtesy of Sidd Finch
Bill Woods (not his real name) comes to the Dallas area several times a year. He and his wife, Onyx, are members of the Federal Dressage Witness Protection Program; thus, their true place of residence is unknown. Both train and compete most of the year in central Florida, often in disguise. Bill has been teaching in Texas since the mid ‘80s, having been brought here by Lisa Brown.They had met in New Hampshire some years before, drawn together by a mutual love of hybrid roses which they tended on summer afternoons at the institution.
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Quote of the Month
“We are all time travelers — just the really dull kind — ones plodding through the 4th dimension one pathetic second at a time.” (Robert Smith on NPR’s Talk of the Nation)
Quote of All Time
“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang onto, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.” Chögyam Trungpa
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Carl Sagan speaks of The Pale Blue Dot. Please click below and watch this!
It’s another Monday!
If this August’s total eclipse of the sun worked for you (or if you were indoors at the movies), there’s a second showing. The date will be April 8, 2024. Visible in the US on a swath from Texas through parts of the Midwest to Buffalo. I am not going to miss it!
TUNY [photo], the French Bulldog , sadly crossed the rainbow bridge in November. Her position as the official Safety Coordinator of this website has been passed along to Alan, the new Frenchie puppy. He has been getting up to speed on the Manual. If as you’re reading, he issues the “Duck and Cover” instruction, please climb under your desk and assume the position until he issues her All Clear announcement.
While Alan [below] may appear to be very youthful for these responsibilities, he has assumed the mantle and hopes to grow old as he carries out his duties.