Create an Awesome Opening Circle

Hunter and equitation trainer and judge Geoff Teall shares his 5-step plan for performing an opening circle that will set up a successful jumping course.
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Hunter and equitation trainer and judge Geoff Teall shares his 5-step plan for performing an opening circle that will set up a successful jumping course.
Geoff's preparation in his opening circle has given Equanimity plenty of energy to ride a beautiful first fence. | © Nathan Welton

Geoff's preparation in his opening circle has given Equanimity plenty of energy to ride a beautiful first fence. | © Nathan Welton

1. Pick up a posting trot through the in-gate and into the middle of the ring.

2. Walk. Take a deep breath, relax and get comfortable.

3. Bear off to the right or left and pick up the canter.

4. Establish your pace. In the early part of the opening circle, put your leg on to exceed the speed that you plan to ride the course. Then relax your leg a little to settle into the pace you want.

5. Approach your first fence. Home in on the distance you want and make any adjustments early and smoothly.

Excerpted from "Create an Awesome Opener" by Geoff Teall in the April 2007 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. To learn how to incorporate breathing into your on-course plan, see "Help Me Catch My Breath" (Here's How) in the March 2008 issue of Practical Horseman.