Lesson Plan: Butterfly Pattern for Woah and Direct Rein Steering


Student: hindered upper and lower body strength, problems with balance and coordination

Goals: increase lower body strength, gain riding independence through rein use

Objective: Student will demonstrate direct rein steering through the butterfly pattern 2x with no verbal prompts, with 1 leader 3 ft away and 2 sidewalkers at ankle hold.

Arena Setup: 6 cones set up in the Butterfly pattern (as seen below from a previous gymkhana pattern post – this time use cones instead of poles, and no finish line)

Lesson Plan (30 minutes):

  • Mount (5 minutes)
    • tack check
  • Warm Up  (5 minutes)
    • Upper body: arms out, hands on head, arm circles, body twists – 10 seconds each
    • change directions
    • Lower body: toes up and down, ankle rolls – 10 seconds each
    • change directions
    • Strengthen Upper and Lower body: 2 point – 1 lap each direction
  • Teach Skill (2 minutes)
    • woah in middle of arena
    • tack check
    • review Woah and Direct Rein Steering, have him demonstrate for me
  • Practice (3 minutes)
    • Woah at each cone down one wall, Direct Rein Steer by weaving cones down the other wall
    • 1x each direction – prompt as needed
  • Progression: Butterfly Pattern (5 minutes)
    • woah in middle of arena
    • explain butterfly pattern, preferably on white board or have volunteer run it –  direct rein steer pattern, woah at beginning and end
    • 1) at sitting walk – talk through it with him in case the pattern is confusing
    • 2) 2 point down the straight stretch in the center at the beginning and end – begin removing prompts
    • 3) same – leader 3 ft away, preferably no prompts
    • high fives!
  • Trotting (5 minutes)
    • warm up trotting on the long wall 2x
    • Butterfly pattern – add trotting down the straight stretch at the beginning and end – preferably no prompts for steering and woahing – remember to give time to transition from trotting to steering, which which can be hard to coordinate for the rider!
    • repeat as much as have time for, as this exercise works on everything in his goals and pushes him a bit
    • high fives!
  • Cool Down & Dismount (5 minutes)
    • walk with no stirrups and arms out to side (airplane) 1x each direction
    • woah in middle and dismount
    • pets for the horse


Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!

2 thoughts on “Lesson Plan: Butterfly Pattern for Woah and Direct Rein Steering

  1. what does “woah” mean? Walk on and halt? or is that how you spell what we spell as “whoa” (it actually makes more sense if that’s what it means–or even “wo” would work–like YO! I love your website–thank you!

    • “Woah” is the same as “whoa”, it means halt. I just looked it up and it’s a common misspelling, apparently – I never even realized I spelled it wrong! You learn something new every day, haha. Thanks for clarifying 🙂

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