From Endurance to Dressage
Schooling the Flying Change
I am not an expert at flying changes. We can get them, but not reliably or even consistently. That's okay; I am patient(ish).
The problem with a movement like the flying change is that you either get one or your don't. Movements like shoulder in or medium trot can be improved while you're in the midst of doing them. If your shoulder in doesn't have enough angle, fix it and continue on. Same thing with the medium trot; half halt and go for it again.
The second I get on Speedy, I want to start working on the flying changes, but I can't because he needs to be suppled and in front of my leg. That means I need to do about a million transitions, some shoulder in, some travers and maybe a few turns on the haunches before I can even think about a flying change.
Once we do start the canter work, I can't just ask for a flying change either because I need to get him soft and on the outside rein first. If I've been diligent and correct in my aids, I can start to think about asking for the change after we've done a few simple changes through walk and maybe some counter canter.
Speedy has a good work ethic, but if the task even smacks of drilling, he's out. Speedy likes things to be interesting, and he likes to feel successful. He doesn't appreciate being asked to do the same thing over and over. All of this means that by the time he's ready to give the flying lead change a try, he's been working for about 25 minutes. He doesn't think he should have to work much beyond 30.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, told me something funny the other day that I've really taken to heart. One of her clients asked why she couldn't do whatever it was until the second try. Chemaine laughed and said it was because she prepared on the second try but not on the first.
Well that explains a lot. With that thought in mind, preparing, I've been super careful about asking for the flying change. Speedy will only give me his best effort a few times which means that I can't afford to waste his time by not preparing.
On Monday, I got a crisp change. I changed direction, got the next one right away, and called it quits. I don't want to burn Speedy out or make him dread that part of our ride.
As long as I am patient, Speedy will get it, and he might even make it look easy. We've got all winter to work on it.
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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%: