From Endurance to Dressage
Improving the Flying Change
I wonder how many horses don't learn to do the flying change until they're 15? Speedy knows how to change his canter leads; I've seen him do it a million times during turn out. They're beautiful. Doing them when and where I ask is an entirely different conversation. As difficult as they are, Speedy is working his heart out to do them for me. Bless him.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, came out for a lesson on Good Friday. Frankly, I need all the help I can get, so if we get a little extra help from the Divine on a day meant to be holy, I'll take it.
My goal for the lesson was to check in on our new and improved shoulder in and to continue cleaning up our flying changes. Chemaine seemed pretty pleased with our trot work, both at the shoulder in and the medium.
When Chemaine was here last, she had me use the idea of a medium trot while doing a shoulder in. For the life of me, I just couldn't figure out what she wanted me to do. After watching video of the lesson, I did a palm to face and shook my head at my idiocy. She wanted me to use the energy reserved for the medium trot during a shoulder in. What's so confusing about that? Apparently a lot if you're me.
For a medium trot, Chemaine has taught me to use the corner to rev Speedy up and build energy in his hind end by applying the brakes (half halt) while at the same time pressing on the gas (adding leg). Once we come out of the corner, I straighten him up so that when he finally gets to use that coiled up energy, he can lift his front end just like a plane taking off.
So how does this work to improve the shoulder in? Chemaine had me set it up exactly the same. From A to K, or whichever corner you're in, build the energy by half halting while adding leg at the same time. From K to V start thinking about shoulder fore so that by V you can put your horse into a shoulder in.
Unlike the medium trot, the horse doesn't get to launch forward though. Instead, Chemaine had me slowly release the energy into the shoulder in by pulsing the rein. If you let all of the energy go at once, you'll lose the angle of the bend. Instead, let it out in short spurts.
Speedy has learned the aids for the medium trot so well that I can now use them to improve his collected trot even while not in the corner. He knows that a "revving up" half halt means that we're getting ready to GO, like in the second picture above. Transitions within the gait, right?!
And then we moved on to the flying change. Speedy has it, he's just still quite sassy about it. The main problem we have is the right rein and right shoulder.
The right to left flying change is much easier because Speedy naturally wants to lean on my right rein. The other way? Let the sparks fly!
Lest you think he's just beyond incorrigible, these are only blips in time. He really just wants to do it right, but he thinks he knows better than I do what's "right." Silly boy.
Right now, the process goes like this:
We have a flying change. What we don't have is an obedient and relaxed flying change. We're almost there though.
I've learned that with this horse, being patient and persistent will pay off.
He makes my heart sing.
If you haven't read Monday's post yet, check it out for a chance to win a pair of Roeckl's newest gloves and a gift card from the Riding Warehouse.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: