July 20, 2021

Rider entering Pen

Today's secret is about one obstacle where people often forget to plan ahead to set their horse up for success.

On your approach to the Pen you need to Plan ahead for:

  • your approach line so you can have the correct bend before you enter.
  • where and in which direction you'll make the change of direction so only one bend change is needed.
  • which direction you will do your last circle so it sets you up to flow to the next obstacle.

    In the Working Equitation Mastery Online Program I explain my reasoning behind the choices I make from the list above.  I can give you one little secret today that can make a big difference to your flow.

You do NOT have to enter and exit the Pen straight.

Yes, that would show increased difficulty and potentially be able to score higher.

However, riders seem to be under the impression that they are 'required' to enter and exit the Pen, perpendicular to the opening. You are not.

What is required is that you present your horse, both to the obstacle, and to the judge, in a way that shows the best that your horse is capable of, that day.

If you can

  • enter and exit straight (ie. perpendicular to the opening), which is the most difficult
  • and your horse is supple enough to enter on the correct bend/lead for the upcoming circle
  • and shows no resistance or change of tempo

Go for it.
But it is very rare that any but the highest level horses can do this well.

In this video clip the course was set up for a straight approach to the Pen.
However, the horse should be on the correct bend when entering.

Although it was a lovely bend change, points would be lost for not entering with the correct bend.
And as the horse moves up the levels, the correct lead.

Most lower level riders do not have such a nice change of bend and have a lot of resistance.
It is better to not have resistance.
But if you're going to, then have it on your approach to the Pen, not in the Pen.

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About the author 

Trish Hyatt

International Coach and Clinician
National and International Top 10 Competitor
Technical Delegate and Judge of Working Equitation

Trish's superpower is the ability to give you and your horse what you need, in a way that you understand, so each horse and rider makes progress and knows what they need to work on.

She puts her many skills to use introducing the international discipline of Working Equitation to riders eager to improve their partnership with their horse, with a focus on fun, classical horsemanship and use of the horse for practical work or as cross-training for other disciplines.

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