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Equitation Work-Offs: Acing Trot and Counter-Canter Jumps

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Submitted by member: Holly

I believe that it is correct to, in a work-off, trot very close to a trot fence. However, I’ve seen different riders handle a counter-canter challenge differently. Ideally, I think a rider should try to land on and hold the counter lead.  However, if the horse instead lands on the usual lead, what is the best moment to change to the counter lead? Earlier, to demonstrate one’s ability to hold the counter lead longer, or closer to the next jump, to demonstrate your confidence in asking for the counter lead with less room to spare?  Thanks!

Answer by Julie Winkel

It shows more ability to break to a trot nearer to the jump than farther away, as long as you can produce a good trot and quality jump. For the counter-canter, the difficulty factor lies in how early you can get the counter lead and hold it. Again, the quality of the pace, line, distance and jump are the most important.

But all things equal, landing and holding the counter lead is best, followed by a flying change to the counter-canter, then simple change through the walk, then simple change through the trot. Earlier the better!

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Julie Winkel

Julie Winkel has been a licensed Hunter, Equitation, Hunter Breeding and Jumper judge since 1984. She has officiated at prestigious events such as Devon, Harrisburg, Washington International, Capital Challenge, The Hampton Classic and Upperville Horse Shows. She has designed the courses and judged the ASPCA Maclay Finals, The USEF Medal Finals and The New England Equitation Finals.

For more information, visit her website:

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