My buddy Bellus has been through the ringer. He had a series of moving lamenesses, some body pain, and lots of anxiety in riding. When I met him, he was shut down, and would rear easily if pushed. When it came to the subject of flying changes, well , that was was a topic we just didn’t approach. Repetitive over schooling made the list of things he wasn’t happy about long, and the list of things he felt confident in very short.
I’ve had him about 3 years now, and haven’t touched the topic. This past summer, he offered me a flying change on his own while cantering. It was super cool, and I was thrilled, but didn’t allow myself to play around too much with it, lest my greed tarnish the gift he offered me. Since then, he’s been willing and even playful about offering a change from right to left.
This morning, while cantering in the field, I meant to ask him for a lateral movement in the left lead canter, and he changed to the right lead. So now we have a flying change in both directions, without anxiety, and without tightness in the back or neurotic expression like grinding the teeth, etc.
Don’t get greedy, and give the horse time. Give them all the building blocks, but let it be their idea. Don’t ruin the expression of a beautiful horse because we’re a little excited about their potential. Let it last a lifetime, not just a show season.
I’m grateful for the gifts horses give me, and they lessons they teach. And I’m especially glad my friend is feeling better.