Changes!

Four of the five mares down here are working on flying changes. They’re at varying stages and have varying levels of natural talent with the change. With most of my previous horses, I’ve felt quite good at changes. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few FEI horses I trained, who easily learned the changes, and I very rarely had any trouble with late changes. Many of these mares here do have some trouble with changes. And while it’s frustrating, I’m trying to look at it as a learning opportunity. I feel like I’m learning a deeper, more biomechanical understanding of changes because these girls require that from me. It’s not that they aren’t talented for changes in the long run, but they each need a different combination of collection, straightness, height of frame, etc etc. You can’t coast through changes with any of these girls. 

I also got to watch Lehua Custer’s lesson with Debbie McDonald today on the fabulous F J Ramzes. Their lesson was almost a carbon copy of my lesson with Jen on Flowy only an hour earlier. Strict, strict attention to keeping control over the shoulders, keeping the horse squarely between your aids, with no bulging or leaning, so that they will really sit onto their haunches. Both Ramzes and Flow are so fancy up front, but we can’t let them motor forward from that. 

In watching my video from my lesson (above) I still need to be much more elastic through my left elbow. Even when were working on flexion R, I pull Flow’s neck back to the L all the time, and therefore pull her down onto that shoulder. 

With Lily today, we went back to really, really clarifying the walk to canter. Lily wasn’t born with the best canter, and it’s been a long process to teach her a muchore balanced, clearly three beat canter. So while she knows a walk to canter transition very well, she often has just a tiny hiccup in someway – half a trot step, short behind I’m starting out, a little crooked, etc. Jen reminded Stacey and me that the walk to canter is exacy the same as the flying change. If she can’t jump crisply and straight into the canter, there’s pretty much no chance of a good change. As we were working on it, Jen said to think to myself – “That was a clean change!” – when Lily did a really good walk to canter. And when there was half a trot step – that was a late change. And when it was short behind for the first stride – that was a “together behind” flying change. 

Blush is quite on the forehand naturally, due to her conformation. So she has to really be willing to keep sitting down as I approach the flying change. When she anticipates and pulls forward and down or runs a little through me, I have to be able to push her a bit sideways off my outside leg, and sometimes she really doesn’t appreciate that! 

Tomorrow I will ride with my left hand forward, if it kills me!! 🤣

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