January Ultimate Exercise – Halt, Loop & Go!

Welcome to week 3! I can’t get over the amazing response we have had to these exercises, maybe it is something you guys want to read more off in the future…? Who knows what we have in store!

This week we are focusing more in on our transition work, incorporating a serpentine in canter. This will bring us forward from last weeks exercise still working on our flying changes from our “Figure of Death”, lets see how much your horse has learned!

Keep reading to find out how we got on, do be warned though, prepare yourself for sore legs the next day!!

What You Will Need?

For this weeks exercise, you will yet again need your arena, or a field to layout this exercise.

6 poles are needed, position them in the arena as per the diagram below across the diagonal. Between each pole, walk out the distance of 10 footsteps for a horse and 9 footsteps for a pony.

Be sure to clear your arena of any extra wings/poles as you will need the space.

What This Exercise Is Good For?

  • Perfecting your Flying changes in sequence
  • Developing the riders coordination & seat
  • Approaching poles correctly
  • Suppling your horse around your leg
  • Helping your horses Balance & Rhythm

How To Ride This Exercise?

  • As always, begin this exercise by warming your horse up accordingly.
    Focusing again on firstly your walk on each rein getting them loose & listening, followed by trot work incorporating some 20 metre circles adding in some figures of 8’s , and finally begin with your canter.
  • Once you are satisfied with your horses warm up, that they are listening to your leg aids accordingly, we can start to introduce the first section of this exercise. It is all about transition work, with the poles being there as a guideline to assist you & your horse with straightness. See Diagram below.
  • You can see in the image that between each pole in the diagram there is an “X” marked in the middle. This is your take off point & also your stopping point. Anytime you react an X, you must transition up or down from the original gait you came in. Try this a couple of times in each direction, mixing up your transitions so your horse doesn’t anticipate the exercise. (trot to halt, halt to trot, walk to canter, canter to halt etc.)
  • The most important thing to remember, don’t let your horse run through a transition. Going forward you need to push them forwards, if you need to assist your leg with a flick of a schooling whip do. On downward transitions you will need to sit and hold. Using your seat & leg will be the most beneficial way to accomplish this, or even your voice with a calming “Woahhh”.
Starting off your exercise with a larger, more exaggerated loop of the arena across the diagonal.
  • Once you feel like you have hit the nail on the head with the above, then you can begin to progress to the second part of the exercise, the serpentine. This is where your canter work comes into play.
  • Begin by picking up your canter, and approaching the outer poles in a large 20metre circle. Do this off both reins until you are happy with how your horse is approaching the ground poles. You want them staying in the same rhythm & approaching the poles calmly. See Diagram Below.
  • See the Diagram below for the final stage of the exercise. When riding the serpentine in Canter, try land for two strides after each pole before your approach to the next, use your seat & wrap your horse around your inside leg, using your outside leg to keep him moving forward. You are trying to focus here on using your legs more instead of using your hands when turning your horse. This takes some time getting used to. Trust me, I had to hold a branch to stop me from pulling at Dante’s mouth at times!
  • Once you complete your serpentine, of course the exercise isn’t quite finished yet! You must loop back in what we practiced at the beginning! Marked with a red “X” on the image below, you must transition down to a halt from your canter, this was our rule to finishing out the exercise!
  • To finish off, again if your horse completes this good on the first attempt with the correct leads over the poles, end your session. Don’t over work your horse. You will only end up spending more time trying to fix it or correct it leaving you aggravated & well pissed off, we have all been there!

And there you have it! Our Halt, Loop & GO exercise. I thought it would be best not to use the word death in the title, a lot of you were quite concerned!

Doing this on both horses, again they both gave me different reactions one was good, one was challenging! To my surprise Dante seemed to of brought froward what he learned from our “Figure of Death” and really used his little brain in remembering his flying changes. Coco on the other hand, well she was being coco, attacking the poles and basically loving life with a few attempts to get me off!! Check out our Instagram to see some videos of the horses doing this exercise!

The Branch!! A lot of you have asked why I was holding a branch whilst riding part of this exercise. Well it is quite simple, it was an aid to assist myself with keeping my hands steady & to stop my uneven contact. Give it a go yourself, try riding with a short whip or in my case a branch. Hold your reins like normal, and place the whip across your horses whither’s holding it under your thumbs, It will basically help position your hands in the perfect place & help you forget about thinking what you are doing with them!

How will you get on with this weeks exercise? Let us know in the comments below, & of course tag us in your video’s if you give this video a go!

Thanks For Reading,


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