Sunday, August 30, 2015

Flying Lead Changes in Icelandics

Wikipedia defines flying lead changes as "a lead change performed by a horse in which the lead changes at the canter while in the air between two strides. It is often seen in dressage, where the horse may do several changes in sequence (tempi changes), in reining as part of the pattern, or in jumping events, where a horse will change lead as it changes direction on the course."
Dressage horse and rider preparing for
flying lead change.  Source: Wikipedia

Blessi has never progressed far enough in his dressage training to move to flying lead changes. His dressage instructors said that he would be capable if he was ridden consistently enough to strengthen and develop a collected, 3-beat canter--which is a challenge for many Icelandics.  Some Icelandics have a natural, beautiful 3-beat canter so presumably learning flying lead changes would be easier for them.

A few years ago, I was in email correspondence with a dressage rider in Germany who rides her Icelandic at Level M dressage, which I think is Prix St George level.  The Icelandic would have had to be capable of good flying lead changes since the owner said that he scored high enough to win ribbons.

The question came up on the International Icelandic dressage group if Icelandics could perform flying lead changes and, if so, were there any videos showing them performing them. I went on a google/yahoo/youtube search using terms in English, French, and German but could not find any.  I did find some ads in Germany for Icelandics listing flying lead changes as one of the horse's abilities.

While searching on-line I came across an interview with Andrea and Richard Janisch Hindrich about gaited horses and collected canter work such as flying lead changes or fliegende Wechsel.  You can read the on-line translation from German about the biomechanical requirements for this type of work here:

Here is a link to the article in the original German:

As Andrea Janisch says, "ndrea Jänisch: First of all I would like to mention the respiratory rhythm here. No gait is so useful to train the breathing rhythm - each stride is a breath. That is not so in the other gaits. The tölt makes it even more difficult to learn the controlled breathing rhythm.Galloping results but which by itself. Without controlled breathing rhythm no effort is possible that everyone knows from jogging. 
In addition, the horse affects the abdominal muscles of the horse. The sets of the pool and inside the thighs and is particularly stressed by the gallop. Associated with increased mobility in sacroiliac joint and thus the movement of the pelvis to the spine. 
Yet something else is important to me: the enthusiasm. I can get the enthusiasm of the horse with the gallop. You can see all the gears in the emotional image: for his canter is enthusiasm, the Off-up going out the appropriate emotion. If the horse is too lazy, too introverted, the canter is the appropriate pace to make the horse faster and happier. "

The interview stresses the importance of developing a balanced horse with self-carriage before asking for flying lead changes. But as the article makes clear, there are lots of considerations with variations among individual horses and breeds to take into account when teaching flying lead changes.

 Other short legged breeds such Haflingers and Fjords master flying lead changes. Does anybody know of any videos of Icelandics performing flying lead changes.

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