Friday, March 9, 2012

Learning Changes

I was quite embarrassed this past weekend at the show that my 10 year old event horse did not know changes and seemingly every horse around me did. I also have friends who have much younger horses that know changes. This was unacceptable.

I've tried in the past, but everytime he just gets so uptight (as you can see in the video below) and I don't know what to do with him. Plus, he is perfectly content counter cantering all day. Also, since I've never ridden a horse whose been trained with changes, and I've never trained one myself (Spirit had natural ones), I have NO clue how to do it PROPERLY. I know the gist, but I don't know the specifics.

Enter my lovely lessee :) She has trained several horses changes, since she comes from the jumper world. Yankee will most likely never need changes for the dressage ring, but for jumpers, I think it will make everything much smoother.

First she warmed him up, and I got some pretty good pics.

I adore how relaxed he is here


Aren't they just cute


God. I am in love with my horse.

Then we tried a multitude of techniques. As an OTTB, he has natural tendencies to be on the forehand. So, we backed, then asked for halt to canter transitions. He's pretty boss at those.
From there we did simple changes each way. He is also very good at these. And from there Jackie tried to work her magic...

It may be his OTTB nature, but he gets quite worked up. Poor baby. He wants SO badly to do well and he works his tiny brain so hard to figure out what we want. He can get R to L easily, since he was taught those as a 2 year old, but they are fugly. Must fix. L to R is much harder for him and he never once got it fully. I know he understands though, and was trying. Needs to be a bit stronger too.

Any suggestions??

Halt to canter transition. Look at those muscles :D

Flying change over that pole!

Pats for the worried OTTB

Our boys hangin' out :) Aren't they just awesome? And the Vin Pin blur, Aaron's doggie.

We took him for a gallop to reward him. He LOVED it!!!


Sunset after a successful day

Upcoming news:
*I'm going to FL on the 23 for 6 days and Jackie is headed to VA, so Yankee will get that time off. I'm sure he will be just fine with that.
*This weekend I am riding in the Claudia Minser being held at my barn. I haven't done a clinic since I rode with Darren C. in like, 2007. HOW TRAGIC. They are just so damn expensive though. Claudia is only charging $70 though, and I thought I could swing that.
*March-dressage schooling show?
*April 14-15- dressage schooling show for me and Jackie will do a CT


  1. Once you get them let me know. Pippi and I just end up getting in a huge fight about them. She will do them on her own at shows, in the field, ect. But once I ask and force one on her it is a different story. I've tried over a pole, in a straight line, in a turn, circling, blah blah. She is very please to just counter canter along as well.

  2. Awesome pictures! I'm probably not much help - I have the same problems as you, never trained them, never had a horse that was trained to do them. I tried with my horse Jazz and we could get them about half the time, but only when we were really moving at a good forward pace and not collected. Jazz would get really worked up too. The best thing that worked for us was to work on leg yields at the trot and then do the same in the canter, changing leads when you ask for the leg yield as well as asking for a change of bend at the same time.

  3. I came from the hunter/jumper world and pretty much every horse I rode had changes. I have had to train some into changes to. A couple suggestions that I would make is that I have never seen someone try to train changes on a straight line. That is going to be completely confusing for him. Best way I know how to do it is on a figure 8. You ask for the change across the center of the arena. Keep the bend and the direction of the lead until right at the center when you make a clear defined change in bend and ask with your leg. Pretty much think of it as you are keeping him on a 20 meter circle and right at the center of the arena you all of the sudden change your 20 meter circle to the other direction and at the same time change your bend and ask with your leg. If it were me I would loose the poles. It's just more for that fragile OTTB brain to think about while figuring it out. Lastly when he gets it right there should be way more praise and let him hang onto the new lead for at least one lap around the arena. Then let him relax with a walk for a lap then work on the same change. I would really concentrate on one at a time. Once he gets his best direction down pat, no nerves involved then the other direction will be a breeze. The going back and forth has his brain on sensory overload. Dem OTTB's need lost of reassurance and it seemed like when he would get it right there was little or no praise and then she was right back at it in the other direction. Hope that helps.

  4. Hey thanks! We were doing a teardrop figure 8. The 20m. ircle makes more sense though. She was praising him, it was just hard to see. I like your suggestions though, ill be sure to try them out :)

  5. I'd suggest (and I'm sure you were already doing this) that when you are to doing the figure 8 circles make sure you trot for 3-4 strides (might take more strides for prep) as you go into the middle of the figure 8 and prepare for the new direction and lead. It'll take a little while but soon enough you'll be able to cut the number of strides needed for prep and lead change. Eventually you'll have one stride of trot and then ask for the new canter lead at which point Yankee should be able to get the idea of lead changes. I'd also suggest a lot of turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand and other supple-ing exercises to loosen up his hips and his shoulders.
    The important thing when teaching changes is to make sure the rider isn't getting "stuck" during the change; make sure that rider is changing his/her body for the new canter direction because if the rider is still riding the old canter lead the horse won't be able to switch to the new lead because he physically can't due to the rider's position.
    Good luck this show season!

  6. We are doing all of that already. In fa t his simple changes are so good he doesny even need a full trot stride. He's been doing two stride simple changes since he was 7

  7. Try asking him to change leads over a jump. Do a figure 8 over a low jump and ask for the new lead as you go over, really opening your new inside rein. That is the only way I have gotten my horse to do a change. And now he's getting to the point where he will do a flying change after the jump too. A friend of mine who is a much better rider than me can also get a nice flying change out of him on the flat now, but I'm not that good a rider and he's not that trained for them yet so I quit trying it. My plan is to take the jump and turn that into a flying over a raised pole, then a pole on the ground, then nothing, and hope he keeps doing a flying change.

    Don't worry that he gets excited though. I think they all do at first.