Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Flying changes and flying high

Over the weekend one of the other boarders had set up some ground poles along the centerline of the outdoor so I decided today I would use them to practice Charlie's flying changes. I like using the poles this way because horses naturally hop over them a little, it makes them focus on where their feet are, and it gives you a nice clean "1, 2, 3, NOW!" moment in the center of the ring over which to ask for the swap. You can easily see the point at which you'll need to switch your aids and you have plenty of time beforehand to prepare, balance and support. So after warming up, I cantered toward one of the poles, sat up and balanced, and when I asked for the change it was effortless. No kidding! For the first time, like, ever Charlie swapped cleanly on the first try!

When it happened I could practically hear the wheels turning in Charlie's head. He seemed very surprised as to how he miraculously got his feet all coordinated and going in the opposite directions than they were a second earlier, but I think he was proud of himself too. I definitely was. We tried a few more swaps but after that they were slightly less spectacular because Charlie was honed in on the "mini jump" and stopped listening so well to my balancing aids. Left to right was decent, right to left still involved lots of scrambling. We'll work on it.

Since he was so locked in on the ground pole, and because we were feeling so good together, I decided on a whim to canter Charlie right up to a little 2 foot vertical (side note: we haven't jumped in a couple of months and I was in a western saddle so 2' looks more like 3'). I sat up, gave a little leg and projected my best confident vibes. Wouldn't you know as soon as Charlie saw it he locked on that jump like a champ and took me right up to the base, up and over and straight! I couldn't have asked for anything more.

We did it a few more times then called it a day. So, yes, you could say that today was a winner :)

I is a good boy :)


  1. Love using poles to work on flying lead changes, though I will admit that they scare me a bit. Sydney feels like she is bucking when really she is swapping leads, which she does any time she picks up the wrong one, and the only other horse that I rode with lead changes would kind of throw himself towards the new direction which lead to a lot of harry moments where I thought I was going to come off.

    1. Yeah, Charlie's get kind of hairy sometimes too. By thinking of the pole like a mini jump (albeit sometimes a very crooked jump) and lifting myself slightly out of the saddle in preparation, I find it's easier to stay with the motion when they flail like that.