Let’s Discuss: Flying Changes

Flying changes keep coming up in my training, and I admit, I’m at an internal impasse.

One one hand, and to state the obvious- having a flying change would make showjumping courses less embarrassing much more fluid, as my requests for a simple change mess with our forward momentum. Granted, he is almost amazingly well balanced in counter canter, so it’s not like we are careening around lopsided on the wrong lead, but still. He will offer the change occasionally, but it’s fairly random. Also, I need to work on getting the correct lead over fences and not leaning left dammit.

PC: High Time Photography

PC: High Time Photography

On the other hand, we are working towards the goal of a Second level test this year. Counter canter starts at First level test 3. Counter canter gets a lot easier when your horse is not trying to switch leads on you when you change the bend. Again, Foster is quite well balanced at the counter canter.


I have never taught a horse a change, and could count on one hand the times I have sat on a school master, much less practiced a change on a schooled horse. I understand the theory, just have not practiced it. We (as in a friend who knew what they were doing) started trying to teach Foster to change over a cavaletti, but the results were mixed. According to her, he is a tough cookie when it comes to changes. My dressage trainer is happy with not schooling changes (obviously).




In Great Britain, they don’t worry about the change as much, and I’ve heard a couple opinions over the years that changes really aren’t required until Preliminary. However, there are other disciplines like H/J where changes seem almost necessary even from the pony stages.

So I ask you, wise readers- what do you think? Forget the change and focus on getting my lead over the fence/Second level wondrousness? Or, get the change and figure out the counter canter later?