Monthly Archives: June 2014

Teaching the Horse Flying Changes

Teaching the Horse Flying Changes

A good change should be clean, with the front & hind legs changing in the same step.  It must also be straight, with no swinging.  It should give the impression of going uphill, with the hind legs coming well under the body.  The speed & rhythm should remain the same before & after the change.

“The flying change of lead is a fresh canter depart inside the canter”   Nuno Oliveira.


 The following notes are from personal training experience & research, with references in italics…


The criteria that must be reached before teaching changes


The canter must be established, with a very clear three-beat, & moment of suspension.


The horse must be relaxed, loose & supple.


The hind feet should follow in the same line as the front feet.


The rider should be able to give & retake the reins with the horse remaining in self-carriage & balance.


The horse must be sensitive & obedient to light & subtle aids.

Whilst remaining relaxed, the horse must be able to strike off on either leg anywhere in the arena.

The simple change of leg exercises must be secure.

How advanced in training the horse must be is a *controversial point – some trainers use the lack of balance of the horse to help teach the change, & use the horses natural inclination to change legs to stay in balance. Other trainers want the horses far more advanced, able to counter canter a 10m circle & work in true collection, & taught the changes purely off the correct aids & timing. The latter is the more classically correct.

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The Greatest Feeling

The Greatest Feeling

Rubi’s eye whiskers brushed softly against my face, then she rested her muzzle gently on my arm, & there we stood, breathing heart to heart. I bowed my head to rest it against her, we were totally accepting of each other, completely at peace. With the soft rays of the evening sun warming the back of my neck, I swear that I was in heaven. No trophy or rosette, no thrill of a ride, nothing could touch this feeling of being so connected with the spirit of a horse. At last, not only did we trust each other, but also Rubi was choosing to be with me.

That was our experience yesterday, & it was only four days ago that Charlie came to see us. As he stood in her stable I worried that Rubi may hurt him, as she could be so unpredictable & intolerant of people in her space, but in no time at all, she had taken herself to stand only a few feet from him. Charlie called me into the stable, & he quietly instructed me. As Rubi sidled a little closer to me, I felt her letting go, I felt us connecting, & tears streamed down my face, & there we stood, completely absorbed in our own little world, just ‘being’ together, & for three quarters of an hour, time stood still.

Clearly Rubi has suffered, & my strong feeling is that she had her trust betrayed to such an extent that she built a barrier around herself, only allowing glimpses of her loveliness. But Charlie has the gift, not only to connect with the horses himself, but also to open a door in the heart of both the horse & it’s carer, so that they can find a much deeper understanding & bond.

Rubi has taken me on an incredible journey, quite a roller coaster of an emotional ride, but thanks to Charlie, I feel that Rubi & I now have a connection that we can build upon.

Charlies website is