Master Canter Transitions and Controlled Turns with the 3s and 5s Exercise


A little inspiration can go a long way!

Whether it’s beginner group lessons, advanced gymnastics, exercises for a young horse, or schooling a specific skill, collaboration is often the best approach, says Canadian Equestrian Team veteran Jay Duke.

“In my experience, it’s when the show jumping community operates as a whole rather than a group of individuals that magic happens,” says the Equestrian Canada senior course designer and renowned clinician. “To that end, I recently started a project to help trainers and coaches work together to mold educated, well-rounded horses and riders at any level.”

Recently launched on, Jay Duke Equestrian’s Virtual Lesson program is a subscription-based service that brings Duke’s extensive library of flat and jumping exercises to the masses.

Here he shares an Advanced Level lesson for helping both riders and horses to master canter transitions and controlled turns.

Step 1: Assemble your materials

To start, you’ll need:

  • 20 standards
  • 16 rails
  • Fill optional at fences 1, 2, 7, 8

Step 2: Set the jump heights

For fences 3, 4, 5, and 6, Duke recommends setting very low 0.50m heights. Fences 1, 2, 7, and 8 start as poles, but can later be set at a height appropriate for the horse and rider.

Step 3: Complete your first pattern

With the fences set as poles, canter fence 7 to 8 in three strides, which will be on a gallop. Canter all the way around the ring and fence 2 to 1 in three strides. Continue this pattern until satisfied.

Step 4: Adjust the striding

Once you’ve executed the first pattern with control and balance, change the number of strides between the poles to five strides, a very collected canter. Continue until satisfied that horse and rider are executing correctly.

Step 5: Add in the serpentine

Raises the poles at fences 1, 2, 7, and 8 to jumps.

Canter fence 1 to 2 in three strides. Slow the canter and jump fences 3 through 6 in an extremely collected canter in the pattern shown. You will turn inside from 4 to 5. After fence 6 continue to 7 and then three strides to 8.

Step 6: Step up the difficulty

The second time through, for added difficulty, go through the markers on the turns between 3 to 6.

Step 7: Reverse and repeat

This exercise should be done in both directions.

Click the image below to print a copy of the Top End Transitions: 3s and 5s Lesson Plan.

About the Author

Jay Duke is a show jumping rider, course designer, clinician, and Canadian Equestrian Team veteran who has represented his country in Nations’ Cup competition in Washington, New York, and Toronto. A four-time Canadian Junior Champion and Leading Rider at the Spruce Meadows North American Championships, Jay has an extensive background with horses of all levels and breeds. For more information about Jay, visit

Learn more about the Jay Duke Equestrian Lesson Library at A portion of all lesson subscription proceeds will be donated to beneficiary charities JustWorld International and Uryadi’s Village.