Finding Your Spot in Trail

In Training Tips by JMQH

TRAINING TIP by AQHA Professional Horseman Jodi Mallette

One of the toughest elements to master when competing in Trail is how to find your distance to a lope over.


Here’s a short clip that has one of the tips & tricks that I use to help educate riders on finding their distance to the first pole:

Generally the first pole is the most important in the sequence and you want to get really comfortable judging the strides leading into the pole and make adjustments to your horse from 3-4 strides away to avoid a long leaping stride, a short chipping stride or entering the penalty zone with split poles, breaks of gait or changes of lead.

In this tip, we are using cones and lines in the dirt to “imagine” poles before the actual obstacle. As your horse crosses the imaginary marks you can make an assessment of whether you need to shorten or lengthen to hit the magical spot right before the lope over (ideal is 6-9 inches back). This takes time to practice and develop your “eye” naturally.

I also like riders to count down to the pole – can you see the spot from 3 strides out? Count down…3, 2, 1 and you should be leaving the ground after that! It’s more commitment to count down versus up to the pole (when you count up, you aren’t really firmly defining where you are…you can just keep counting!).

Be sure to subscribe to the JMQH YouTube channel for more tips & tricks as I have time to work on videos! If you have any questions or would like to see something specific, please get in touch. Virtual and video lessons are also an option.

Jodi Mallette | JM Quarter Horses