All Change?

Posted by in balance, Blog, canter, canter execises, canter exercise, straightness, straightness in canter, suppleness, train your horse, training, training a horse, training your horse on Nov 10, 2012


It’s amazing how easy many horses find the flying change easy – when you’re not asking for it!  Some horses change behind and become disunited, others swap onto a favoured leg but the one thing they have in common is balance – or lack of it. If your horse is a master at a quick change when you least expect it then be careful. The very thing you’re doing to try to keep him on the correct leg could be the thing that’s causing him to change.


Your horse is most likely to throw in a change of leg going into a corner or coming out it for two very different reasons. Going into a corner it’s more likely that you haven’t turned your body in line with the curve of the corner. Coming out you’re probably bending too much.


As you ride down a long side your body should be straight and square to the end of the school. If your horse has a problem with changing leg you’re probably focused on this. As you ride into the corner it’s also likely that you’re late to turn your body. Or you don’t turn it at all. This leaves your shoulders and hips turned to the outside – exactly what your horse does when he skips onto the other leg.


Practise the theory in sitting trot so you can feel what you’re doing. As you ride down the long side keep your shoulders and hips square to the end of the school but as you pass the corner marker bring your outside shoulder and hip round so you show your horse the curved line you want him to take. Hold that line until you pass the end of the ¼ line and then straighten up so you can pass A or C completely straight.


When you’re having a problem with balance it’s important you make relaxed changes. Often when you try too hard changes in your body are stiff and sudden. Nag at yourself to relax your body as you make the turn and your horse will do the same. Stiffen up and swing round to the inside and he’ll tighten his back against your stiffness – and change leg.


If your horse changes leg coming out of a short side then you’re probably trying too hard to stop him. It’s most likely that you’re pushing him out into the corner to try to hold his inside bend. The trouble with that is you push him so far out into the corner that he has to ‘bounce’ off the wall to get back onto the track of the long side. As he rebounds from the fence he’ll lose balance and change.


Illogical as it may feel, straighten up the corners in your next few sessions so you remove as much bend as possible. Think of riding diagonal lines between corner markers and A/C. Keep your horse’s head and neck straight in front of his body. This keeps his weight evenly divided between both sides of his body and will keep him on the right lead.


Skipping from one leg to another can be frustrating but the harder you try to avoid it the more it’s going to happen. Stay relaxed and think about what you’re doing – not what your horse is doing. Concentrate on your body and your balance and you’ll soon find unnecessary changes are a thing of the past. And look on the bright side – you know he’ll be able to do them when you ask in the future!


Good luck and enjoy your schooling.

Are you struggling with canter? Why not check out Teach Yourself 2? It has five easy to follow but progressive exercises you can use to improve your transitions and your canter.

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