Flying Changes

Flying changes are a lot of fun to ride, but can be very hard and frustrating to train.  A lot has to happen in a very short period of time: the horse must go from one lead to the other and coordinate switching all of their legs in mid air! While flying changes are natural movements for horses, doing them on the riders cue is not natural!

What are the aids for a flying change?

The aid for a flying change is the same as the aid to pick up the canter. If you want to ride a flying change from the left lead to the right lead, then your aid is the same as for the right lead canter – you move your horse a little off the right leg, your left leg goes back and you give slightly on the right rein to allow the inside hind leg to come through.  You ask for the flying change on the up beat of the canter, when the mane is flying up.

How do you improve your flying change?

The quality of the flying change is related to the quality of the canter.  So if you want to improve the quality of your change, go back and work on getting a better collected canter with more jump and uphill balance.

My favorite exercise to improve my flying changes is to work on canter-walk-canter transitions. Really focus on the first step of canter and make sure that it is crisp and active in the hind end! Also be sure that the horse is reactive to your leg and that your horse stays round over the top line in the walk canter transitions!


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