The Turn Back Exercise ~ Lessons with Coco

(Apologies for the lack of images in this post)

Since our last lesson me and Coco have had a busy few weeks filled with new experiences. We went back to Darielle’s yard for a hack but between spooky horses and getting drenched out of it we didn’t get very far but it was still good to get her out of the yard again. The following week we did our Try TREC Day. Give our blogpost about it a read to see how both Coco and Dante got on. 

With all of this I decided it was time to refocus and have another lesson with Sue!

Before we started I gave Coco a quick lunge which ended up being a great idea because she was being quite spooky on one side of the arena. This gave her a chance to check everything out and see that nothing was going to jump out at her. I mounted up and started warming her up with a walk, trot and canter on each rein and then started some circles in each corner of the arena. While I did this Sue set up the jumping exercise for the lesson a Turn Back Exercise.

Turn Back Exercise
This is what the turn back exercise looked like
So what is this turn back exercise? 

There were two blocks set up where you enter, this was to help keep Coco straight into the first jump. The idea is to ride the exercise on a semi circle, starting over a jump and ending over a jump. There is a pole in the middle to help with striding and then two poles on the outside of the corners to help keep her in line. 

What does it help with?
  • Control you need to ensure you keep a steady rhythm so you can maintain control throughout the exercise
  • Balance jumping on a circle helps your horse improve it’s balance
  • Precision make sure you hit your strides by aiming for the middle of each pole
  • Improving turns sit up and prepare for the turn well before the first pole so your horse is ready for what’s coming
How did Coco do?

I have to say..this was a difficult exercise. It seemed so easy but it was far from it. We started off by keeping everything as just poles on the ground. The first time I brought Coco into it was a complete failure. We tried it a few times before we eventually got it right. We put the two jumps into small uprights and that’s when Coco became difficult. She started bunny hopping into the jumps, making it impossible to see a stride or plan for the turn. 

One attempt we made nearly ended in disaster. We completely missed our take off point and Coco caught her knees on the pole which didn’t fall because of the type of wings we were using. I thought we were both going down but I sat up and dropped my reins to give her a chance to get herself together and thankfully we managed to stay on our feet! 

FullSizeRender 4
This isn’t a shot from this lesson but Coco looks great 😉

When we came into it again Coco was a bit wary so she needed some extra encouragement to get her over the fence. She also started to get quite evasive and began drifting on the approach so we decided to switch it up and come off the other rein. She still wasn’t great so any time she started to drift I put her onto a circle before the jump until she settled.

We played around with the exercise by moving some of the poles and widening the blocks at the start and by the end we had gotten the actual exercise down pretty well, it was just managing our approach that became the biggest difficulty. 

A new unrelated problem did materialise in the last 15 minutes of the lesson. Every time I asked Coco to canter she would buck and drift to the outside. I think this is a problem with her saddle so I am changing her saddle and also organising for a physio to come out to her will keep you updated on how this progresses.

Throughout the lesson I spoke to Sue about some of the problems I’ve been having with Coco mostly around how nervy she still is and how difficult she has become on hacks. So as well as what I need to work on from our lesson, I also have some additional things to do:

  • Every time I ride I’ve to jump at least 7 times to try and take the excitable edge off Coco’s jumping
  • It has been suggested that I start Coco on a magnesium supplement. A few different people have recommended this as a way of calming her down and making her less nervy so it’s worth a shot
  • Get Coco out walking on the track by herself and use draw reins as a way of keeping control

Hopefully this is an exercise that some will find helpful. Let me know how you get on if you decide to give it a go!



3 thoughts on “The Turn Back Exercise ~ Lessons with Coco

  1. Coco sounds like she is very fun to jump, but a little strong! I hope the physio helps with that. Sometimes horses that get excited or fast to the jump do so because they need the speed for balance. I love that you are changing things up!

  2. Aww she’s great fun but yes definitely strong. She just gets quite over excited which makes her difficult. Balance is definitely an issue.. her flatwork has improved immensely over the last few weeks so hopefully with the physio this will all come together to help her improve 🙂

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