Practice this figure-of-eight exercise to help you master your flying changes.

The ultimate aim of this exercise is to help your horse change leg in the air. This is a vital skill for jumping — it will help you produce a smooth, rhythmic round during competition.

The exercise

You must understand the theory of how to change leg over a fence. When you look to the next fence during your course, you will naturally shift your bodyweight as you are jumping. This sends a message to your horse, helping him to land with the correct, new, leading leg.

You must help your horse keep the rhythm and focus ahead of the next fence at all times.

Path 1: (see diagram)

  • Ride outside the cone on the left rein
  • Jump the fence, changing to the right leg as you go over it, then go around the outside of the other fences at the end of the school
  • Jump the yellow fence changing to the left leg. Come inside the cone and then around the outside of it, back on to the left rein. Then repeat.

Mixing it up — path 2

Start the exercise on the left leg, as before, and change to the right leg over the first fence. Then, ride inside the other two fences to take the next fence (changing leg). Finally go around the inside of the cone, finishing on the left leg.

It is vital that you look over to the next fence and open the inside rein. Unless all these messages are forthcoming from you it is easy for your horse to assume he is to jump the fence directly ahead.

With the layout indicated on the diagram, the possibilities for practicing tight turns and doglegs are endless.

Prerequisites

You and your horse need an ‘organised’ canter. The horse must have the ability to shorten and lengthen the canter.

What can go wrong?

If you fail to think ahead, your steering may fail. It is vital that you keep the leg on, even is the approach isn’t perfect.

Once you have practiced your flying changes why not enter some showjumping competitions online via Equo?