Click 'n Learn: Trail-Class Turnaround Box

Learn how to negotiate a turnaround box, a common trail-class obstacle, in a way that'll add points to your score.

The turnaround box, made of four 5- to 6-foot ground poles laid out in a square, is an obstacle you’ll frequently encounter in trail-class competition. You’re expected to ride into the box, execute a 360-degree turn that resembles a tiny circle and ride out, without ticking or moving any of the ground poles.

In bygone days, a rider performed the full turn by moving one end of the horse, then the other, in a stop-start-stop-start sequence that made it seem as though the horse were rotating on an imaginary pin or pole stuck through his middle. Today, judges want to see a smooth, free-flowing maneuver with no stops and restarts for repositioning.

Here, an amateur competitor who rides with pro trainer Tina Duree of Chino Hills, Calif., demonstrates how to ride the obstacle in a frame-by-frame photo sequence. Tina’s student Christine Duncanson establishes steady forward motion and a slight body arc in her horse, Principle Advisor, before entering the box. She aims his head at an upper corner, then guides his nose from corner to corner while using pressure from her outside leg to keep his motion going. (Under Tina’s direction Christine was a top-10 finalist in trail at the 2009 AQHA Select World Show for riders 50 and over.)

Watch Christine use her inside seatbone as her balancing point, and how she directs her own gaze from corner to corner while guiding her horse. These are two more keys to the maneuver.

Press the button on the left to play the sequence automatically all the way through at the speed of your choosing, or use the individual buttons on the right to proceed one image at a time.

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Christine Duncanson


— Photos by Cappy Jackson

For another look at how to ride the turnaround box, with written, step-by-step instructions, see Competitive Edge, “Think Inside the Box,” in the March 2010 print edition of Horse & Rider. To order a copy of this issue, call 877-717-8928 .

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