I finally have enough info to share ideas for drill teams! Drill team is a great activity for groups of two and up. It gives a practical application for riding skills, encourages group bonding, offers social interaction, requires timing and paying attention, and teaches teamwork. Drill team is a fun thing to do at shows and presentations. It’s also great for veterans, who are used to having a team, a purpose, and formations. The following information is gathered from a presentation given at the 2016 Region 4 Conference, this horse forum discussion (check out the videos), and my personal experience. Please add your suggestions at the end!
If you don’t know what drill team is, get a brief descriptions and see some pictures at the Wiki Definition here. A good resource about drill team and its rules can be found in the Minnesota 4-H Drill Team Guidebook. This post is going to focus on patterns and suggestions.
Drill Team Maneuvers
I’ve condensed the most common drill team moves into the chart below. Enjoy!
For a description about how to do some of them, click here.
Drill Team Notes
- Be matching!
- Sew matching saddle pad covers
- Get nice/fancy western shirts donated
- Consider costumes – but make sure they don’t get in the way
- Matching polo wraps looks sharp
- It’s not just about rhythm but about the message, to leave everyone in a better mood
- Have a list of acceptable songs for the riders to pick from.
- Songs with varying rhythm and parts offer opportunities for slow and fast movements.
- After the first ride to the song, it will either be too short or too long. Have the riders work together to decide what moves to add or remove.
- Consider riding to music right away, because it’s fun! Especially if the riders are familiar with the movements already, start the music and call them out.
- Some riders will need to ride the pattern without music first, or else they can’t focus from too much sensory input.
- Carefully consider who to put first in line in the leader position
- Should have good endurance!
- Should also know the pattern and movements, or they may mess it up
- Pair up horses who like each other and have similar tempos
- Make sure horses get used to passing each other closely and at different gaits
- Make sure horses are ok with costumes, if used
- First work on keeping and even rhythm and pace, using speed up and slow down cues. Then teach using the size of the movement to adjust spacing (moving in/out of the circle).
- Leave the ends of the arena open from your pattern (turn early instead of going all the way to the fence), so there is space to adjust if riders lose their spacing.
- Designate one person to be the caller, who helps riders remember the pattern.
- The instructor calls the pattern out for the riders.
- The lead rider calls out each next move and when to start.
- The riders memorize the pattern, and the lead rider has a whistle. One whistle means start next move, two whistles means stop, three whistles means emergency stop.
- Using a flag
- Flag etiquette http://drill-fever.com/2009_Events_S6HZ.html
- Other Ideas
- Integrate local 4-H club (if you need more riders)
- If you have multiple groups (beginners and advanced) include separate drill team movements at the same time, to show off their skills (ex: beginners do pinwheel at the walk with reverse while the advanced riders canter around the perimeter)
- Use dressage cones/letters for visual markers. If you perform off the premises, take them with you so they’re familiar to the riders.
- If performing off the premises, make sure the arena is the same size, or the timing with the music gets thrown off. Use cones or poles to make a large arena smaller.
You can still do drill team with two people!
See the post about two person drill team.
Drill Team Curriculum
A co-instructor and I came up with this curriculum to go through with our veterans over the summer. Listed is the skill to teach and 2-3 drill team movements to work on that involved practicing that skill, with the end goal of putting them all together in one big drill team pattern.
- Halt, walk on, steer – separately and together at same time
- Nose to tail
- 90 degree turn
- Speed up, slow down on straight lines
- Pairing up in 2’s
- Pairing up in 4’s – halt & salute
- Stay aligned on opposite walls
- Steer, bend (legs) – circles
- Anna’s circle
- Do si do
- Straight lines – diagonals
- Thread the needle (speed up, slow down)
- Thread the needle in pairs, or Interlocking fingers, or Obliques
- Speed up, slow down on a circle – pinwheel/crack
- Full team crack
- Combine moves into a full pattern (attempt all in a row, or combine in another order)
- Find music
- Collaborate as a team
- Designate the leader/caller
That’s all I got. Do you have anything to add?
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 judgment!