Horse-Riding: The Flying Change of Canter

For aiding the flying change, we must be concerned only with phases five and six of the canter. In phase five, a rider can see the horse’s outstretched foreleg on the ground slowly slant backward as his body travels over it. With this movement of the receding inside foreleg of the horse, the rider’s inside (forward) leg must slowly recede. It travels backward on the horse’s side into an “outside” leg position. As a result of the rider having changed his leg position to the opposite of what it was, his entire seat and hand position should change harmoniously.

In phase six, the horse is suspended above the ground and comes easily into harmony with the rider’s new position. Without anchorage to the ground, the horse can rebend himself into a new lateral position. By the time his flight is concluded, he will exercise the option of touching down with the opposite hind leg on the ground. The flying change will have been performed!

Two words of caution: Before asking for a flying change, produce an impulsive, collected canter. As you change position, and with it aiding diagonals during phase five, you must do it harmoniously so that during phase six, you can once again clarify the new balance to the opposite side.

I disagree with any tendency to lighten the seat at the time of the flying change. Do not encourage an exuberant, leaping changeover. Neither hurry nor extend the canter strides before the change. On the contrary, make sure to stay deep in the saddle with a well-anchored seat, thigh, and knee contact, and in order to do so, stay very erect in the saddle. By bouncing forward, looking down, leaning to the side, or any other dislodging or “lightening” activities by the seat, the rider denies the horse the feeling of the rider having changed position and balance in the saddle. The seat is the most important contact area through which we communicate the change! Collect the horse more by a half-halt just prior to the change of lead. Keep your head high. As you change leg position, the new outside leg should move with friction along the horse’s side without leaving it. By kicking backward, you will aid in the wrong rhythm.

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