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So here's a little mini tutorial on tempi changes, or just single flying changes.
This is Bella; she is not secure in any way, shape or form with her changes and has only really just started them in the last couple of months.
I like to start with a horse that is in a balanced canter; the horse can go trot, canter, canter, trot, canter, from one leg to the other quite easily, in a nice, balanced, easy way to the contact. So everything that’s been on my Yonder Farm Friends And Connect Equestrian Q&A + Tutorials Facebook group must be in place right from the beginning; the horse going to the connection, balanced, with a good natural way of going, in line with the scales of training.
So once this is organised, I start the single flying change across the diagonal. So, say we were on the left hand, I would come across the diagonal from F and leg yield to H. As I leg yield towards H on the diagonal and start crossing X, my right leg is pushing the horse up into the left hand, so my right leg is the prep leg. As I feel the horse come into the outside hand, I would start to create a little bit more jump using a half halt, creating bubbles of energy in my outside rein. I would then release the prep leg - which would be the right leg - half halt, and then my outside leg would go back in the next stride and ask for the horse to jump through to the right canter.
In this process, you sort of feel the horse bounce a little bit more. You must keep the horse's left ear on the wall and mustn’t twist and jump to the inside, so that the horse jumps in the new direction but not towards the leading leg. This will allow the inside hind leg to come through and your horse hopefully won’t be late behind. I then turn this into a bit of a zigzag; you can see I’ve tried to demonstrate it a little bit with baby Bella. She is very green which is why I’ve chosen her.
So, in the video, I’m coming across the diagonal on the left rein. I want to do three changes across the diagonal; one right, one left, then one right again. As I approach the diagonal at F, I make the horse very straight - as if I’m on tramlines - then I leg yield to the left (my prep leg being the right leg), half halt the left rein, release the prep leg (the right leg) and in the next stride, I ask for the jump through with my left leg. After the change, leg yield to the right (your left leg being your prep leg) prep up into the right rein, release the left leg, half halt, right leg back, then jump the change to the left. To get the right change and the last change on the diagonal, repeat the first sequence.
If all has gone well, don’t count the strides, just feel how the movement feels. Then, when the jump feels good and you feel like you’ve got enough lift in the stride to achieve the jump through, try counting your strides. The leg yield is very useful because it creates more separation of the hind leg and allows the horse to find a bigger moment of suspension. The rider also feels that bigger moment of suspension and can feel the timing of the change, the timing of when to half halt, and then when to ask for the jump through.
I hope you find this mini tutorial helpful... It’s not perfect, there are many ways to do it, this is my way (or one of my ways, at least). I know it all sounds a bit complicated, so please message me if you’ve got any questions! You can contact me on Facebook or Instagram @sarahwilliamsdressage.
Find out more about Sarah Williams and check out the rest of her helpful video tutorials, covering a range movements and transitions > View Sarah's profile here.