Learning the flying change determines whether or not
a horse advances into the collected work beyond Second Level. It is an intense movement that dressage trainer Roanne Denny
says takes a year to train thoroughly.
She learned the flying change from Herbert Rehbein,
five-time Champion Professional German Dressage Trainer. "Herbert Rehbein has a reputation for being able to teach a cow the
flying change," Denny said.
The flying change first appears in Third Level, Test
3. Two simple flying changes are required from a counter canter on a 20-meter circle.
Tempi changes begin at Fourth Level. Test 1 requires
changes from a counter canter but on a straight line. Test 2 asks for changes of lead every fourth stride across the diagonal.
The tempi changes continue through the FEI levels with Prix St. Georges every four strides, Intermediare I every three strides,
Intermediare II every two strides, and Grand Prix every stride.
Preparing for the Flying Change
"A horse's age doesn't determine when he is ready for
the flying change," Denny said. "If you have a 12-year-old in training, you may have to return to basic ground work in order
to develop the muscles needed for the flying change," she said.
Denny's 3-year-olds do 20-meter circles. As their muscles
develop, she gradually decreases the circles to 15-meters. Her 4-year-olds begin 10-meter circles if their muscle strength,
balance and coordination allow them to comfortably stride underneath themselves while maintaining rhythm. Doing circles too
small at an early age may damage the hocks: Denny suggests training under professional guidance.
When the horses can do 10- and 5-meter circles at a
canter without losing balance and breaking into a trot, Denny begins to teach them the counter canter.
"After accomplishing counter canter and maintaining
serpentines, 20-and10-meter circles at a counter canter without losing balance, the horse is ready to begin the flying change,"
Denny depends on circles and serpentines to supple,
balance and strengthen the horses. She also teaches them shoulder-in, haunches-in and half-pass at a trot and canter for balance.