STARTING on the simple changes with some of the horses atm. A simple change is when you go straight from canter into walk, walk between 3 to 5 steps, and then straight into canter on the new rein. It prepares the young horse for the flying change introduced in the advanced-medium tests.
First and foremost, make sure you’re in a good canter before you start. The better quality of the canter the better quality of the movements. This is in general. Like Nuno Oliveira sais it: ‘Canter in such a way that the horse does not speed up when you release the reins’. Make sure the horse can relax in the canter. He will understand us and new tasks much better when he relaxes and are capable to find balance.
Coming to the first transition: all good transitions require the ability to bring the speed you’re coming from as close as possible to the speed you’re going to, so make sure you can canter close to walk speed for a few steps. Just remember that the more the horse slows down the canter, the more impulsion he needs. That the horse thinks forward here is key.
Then we have 3-5 steps in walk, and most important there is to just keep them collected and straight. The simple change is a test of collection not a test of brakes and accelerator. & it is better to give the young horse a chance to take a little bit more steps and perform a more fluent transition, than a rough one lacking preparation.
To go forward back into canter is normally the easier part, and here it’s important the horse is still straight, uphill, active on the aids and somewhat collected. The easiest way to introduce the simple changes, I think, is to work on them uphill outdoors. I’m a lucky girl having plenty of fields I can ride on, and there’s a long uphill where I canter the horses and introduce the simple changes (also the slower canter I introduce there!). I find it easy to make it playful and to keep their forwardness there, before I bring it into the arena.
Photo of Lucky & me