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Ingrid Klimke Dressage Masterclass: Flying changes

Almania Felix ridden by Nicky Kirkby - © Stephen Mowbray

Almania Felix ridden by Nicky Kirkby.

© Stephen Mowbray


By Dr Kerry Mack

At the Ingrid Klimke masterclass we kept seeing very systematic training, like stacking building blocks. Stretch, walk, get the horse responding to the leg with quick transitions, and explain the next exercise to the horse step by step.

This was very apparent in training the flying changes in the third lesson of the masterclass. This group was Medium level and included Almania Felix ridden by Nicky Kirkby and Fidera ridden by Greer Moloney — the first part of this lesson was covered in my previous article.

The early exercises in this lesson included the shoulder in and then walk pirouettes, reminding the horse to yield laterally to the leg. This gives you the tool that you need in the changes; it helps to prepare the horse to follow the instructions for the changes. The caveletti at walk also helped the horse be quick with the hind leg, preparing for the changes.

The first flying change exercise Ingrid asked for was the small figure of eight, two 10 metre circles at canter with a simple change to start with. Right 10m circle, change, left 10m circle, change, repeat. This exercise was repeated patiently, reducing the number of walk steps until there were no walk steps.

This uses the repetition to help the horse anticipate the change so he understands the requirement. The horse does the change but it is late behind. Exaggerate the aid for the change, and be really clear with the aid for the new canter lead, Ingrid explains. Still late. Ingrid asks the rider to ensure that the horse is very straight in the change of direction. Still late behind. “Just stay quiet, and repeat.”

Ingrid asks the rider to keep the horse’s shoulder to the right in the right circle before the changes to the left. The outside hand keeps the shoulder to the right. And then push the hindquarter to the direction of the change, to the left. The rider must be strong with the outside leg, which of course is part of a very clear and exaggerated aid for the change. “Keeping his hindquarter in the direction of the change will help him flex his hindquarter,” she explains. As he carries more weight on this flexed new inside hind leg he changes cleanly.

“Walk, pat, immediately.”

Ingrid gets the rider to then repeat only the right to left change a few times, staying on the same line but not doing the flying change left to right. When the horse does this correctly a few times, it is walk then do the left to right flying change. Easy, with the rider’s new understanding of how to ask for it. Of course finish by riding forward, medium canter. Finish.


 Greer Moloney and Fidera, with Almania Felix and Nicky Kirkby in the background - © Stephen Mowbray

 Greer Moloney and Fidera.

© Stephen Mowbray

Time is running out in this lesson, the 5-minute bell has rung, but Ingrid wants to show us another way to improve the flying change. It is really the same process but using a loop so the wall supports the change. “Canter along the long side, near the end (between V and K) do a half volte, and ride the loop back to the wall and stay in counter canter a few steps. Simple change at E, and repeat until there is no walk step. Flying change. Job done.

Ingrid makes sure that the horses finish with a stretch at trot. When one horse becomes tense with the appreciative clapping, Ingrid takes the time to ensure that the horse relaxes again. “Make sure he leaves the arena being relaxed,” she emphasises. A good thing to remember always. One of the great things about the masterclass is the way Ingrid was showing us what she does, systematically every day.

After the break were the FEI horses. More of that later.

Catch up on the previous articles:

Session One: The lesson plan

Session Two: Managing the distracted stallion

Session Three: Walk Pirouettes






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