When can we start to work on tempi changes?

What the horse already needs to know to begin:

-Be able to execute calm and relaxed single flying changes of lead on the long side of the arena or on the diagonal, on both reins, from canter to counter-canter or counter-canter to canter.
-If possible, the horse should also be able to do single changes on the short side of the arena and on a big circle.

-Stay perfectly straight during a single change.
-Keep the same cadence and the same degree of collection (not loosing the posture) during the change.

The horse is ready to work on tempi changes, up to changes every two strides.


Teaching the horse Up to tempi changes every two strides.

Start with two single changes, one at the beginning and one at the end of the long side of the arena.

Make one or two left-rein circles to prepare, with your horse nicely cadenced, relaxed, rounded and very straight.
Change your lead to the right at the precise moment you get to the long side of the arena, by moving your left shoulder and your left leg back (inversion of aids). Keep the horse straight.
Keep the horse rounded, nicely calm, nicely straight on the long side of the arena, confirming the right lead canter at every stride.

Ask for the second change of lead just before the corner.
Keep the cadence. Reward.

Proceed the same way the following days on the two long sides of the arena and on both reins.
Then, change lead at the first third and at the end of the second third of the long side of the arena (still two changes, but closer together).
Ask from canter and then from counter-canter. Do the same on the diagonals.

Then, ask for four changes: two on the first long side of the arena and two on the other.

You can start reducing the amount of strides between changes.

With tactfulness, moderation and concentrating on the best way to proceed, ask for tempi changes every four strides. Proceed the same way as before, but increase collection and above all, keep the horse calm, cadenced and straight.

First, ask for two changes every four strides, than three, four… six changes every four strides.

Work on the tempi changes every four strides for two or three weeks until they are well confirmed. When the horse easily and calmly gives the change every four strides, without anticipating the cues, you can start asking for changes every three strides and then every two strides.

Most important of all, stay calm, straight and cadenced.


My Advice
Teaching the horse Up to tempi changes every two strides

My advice is the same as for the single flying changes of lead.

Never be in a hurry, take your time. It will take several weeks, or even several months to get to two-tempi changes with some horses.
Alternate your workouts with flying lead changes and without flying lead changes.

Your major worry will be to continuously improve the vibration of your canter. You must obtain the same quality of canter on both reins (same cadence, same degree of collection, same straightness).

More than ever, apply the principle of Beudant: "Ask little, ask often, reward a lot".

Count the flying changes in your head to be able to anticipate. You must always know where you are and what you are going to do.

Between the changes, apply your canter aids with tactfulness, always at the right moment.
Keep your outside shoulder slightly back, and keep contact with your outside rein to control collection.

Do not harden your aids. Do not move sideways to let (or make) the horse away.
Do not look at the horse's front legs, and do not let his ears out of sight.


Frequently encountered problems
Teaching the horse Up to tempi changes every two strides

See the problems encountered with the single changes. They are the same ones.
However, as you reduce the number of strides between changes, specific problems might appear.

If the horse moves sideways during the changes:

Do not put your outside leg too far back, use mostly the top of your calf, and above all keep the tension on both reins equal.
Be subtler with your upper body.
Look far ahead.

If the horse looses cadence:

There is a specific degree of collection and cadence to the different tempi changes (4,3 and 2 strides).
The smaller the number of strides allowed between changes, the greater the collection must be (importance of the outside rein).
Very often the rider uses his hands too much. The horse slows down.
Or the horse lifts his head or twists himself, and then accelerates.
One leg is used with more strength than the other is.

If one side is harder then the other:

The canter must be equal on both reins before starting with the single changes.
The aids are too strong (or not clear enough) on one side.
The horse twists on one side and needs time to put himself straight again. Keep your horse straight.
The horse goes too close to the wall of the arena. Slightly move away from the rail.

If the horse anticipates the next change:

Confirm the aids (for the canter) between each change of lead to stay on the chosen lead.
Work calmly in a walk for a while. Start over.
Keep your legs very relaxed, do not clamp them against the horse.


When is the horse ready for tempi changes at every stride?

What the horse needs to know:

The horse must successfully execute all the preceding exercises. He must be able to easily change lead every two strides, without the slightest sign of nervousness.


Teaching tempi changes every stride

First, increase the vibration of the canter.
Obtain a very good cadence, a nice impulsion in your canter, just a little faster than for two-tempis. The horse must be absolutely straight.

At the end of the long side of the arena, cantering on the right (correct) lead, change to the wrong lead and then immediately back to the right lead. Start over two or three times, reward and put the horse back in his stall.

Work on this the following days.

Obtain the same thing in the middle of the long side of the arena, at the first third, the second third…
To obtain three tempi changes in a row, counter-canter and at the middle of long side of the arena, canter/counter-canter-canter, keeping your aids light.
Continue on the three tempi changes in a row until mastered and than go to four in a row.

Progressively increase the amount.

My Advice
Teaching the horse tempi changes at every stride

Do not move your chest and stay well seated.
Do not ever look at the ground because you will loose the right rhythm.
Look ahead, between your horse's ears.

Your hands must have a good contact with the horse's mouth, and the horse's head must stay straight.

Only use your legs.
Do not move your leg back much.
You will loose too much time and miss the next change.
Touch with your other leg immediately after the first one… TAC/TAC/TAC…. and above all do not clamp your legs onto the horse. They must stay relaxed so that they can do some kind of swinging.

Frequently encountered problems
Teaching the horse tempi changes at every stride


Frequently encountered problems Teaching the horse tempi changes at every stride The same problems are encountered in single changes and tempi changes up to every 2 strides.

If the horse looses cadence:

The cadence of your canter is not the right one. The canter is not collected enough and not vibrant enough.
The rhythm and cadence of your actions are wrong. Changing lead every stride produces a kind of barely perceptible swinging of the chest, which demands excellent coordination of the aids and great relaxation.
Try to have a better perception of your body, a mental picture of it. (Body awareness).

If the horse alternates between one-tempis and two-tempis:

Tempi changes at every stride are very difficult for the rider, who must execute his actions with great speed and precision while keeping his legs relaxed.
Concentrate on your legs and keep contact with both reins.
Have the rhythm of the changes in your head and in your body.
If the horse looses the cadence and collection of the canter required for one-tempi changes, he will change every two strides.
Stay well aligned, do not slow down, do not speed up, and watch out that you rigorously keep the same balance and the same tempo.

If the horse does not manage the third one-tempi change:

It is relatively easy to obtain the left/right or right/left changes, but there is typically difficulty in obtaining the third change in a row.
The third change must be super fast, but above all more refined than the two first ones.
One has a tendency to exaggerate it too much, or to ask too hard.



Posture-position / Walk / Trot / Canter / Shoulder-in / half-pass /Flying change of lead/ Tempi changes / The canter Pirouette / Piaffe

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