The ultimate aim of the three-fence exercise is to teach you the importance of focus when jumping offset fences. It also shows you how easily your horse will respond to the lightest aids.

This exercise is great for training you to think ahead and communicate effectively with your horse. People are always surprised just how little they have to do to turn so that they are straight coming to a fence on an offset angle.

By being successful at looking at the centre of the fence you want to jump next, you are encouraging your horse to listen for the cue.

The exercise


Set up two sets of three fences a short three canter strides apart (45ft – see diagram). If you intend to trot into the first fence (a good idea in the initial stages) build the two sets of fences four canter strides apart.

The first fence should be a cross-pole, which must be jumped dead straight. As you go over it, you should fix on the centre of the next fence and try and forget that the other two fences even exist.

  1. Jump the initial cross-pole dead straight while focusing on the offset blue fence (path A)
  2. Ride the curve between the two offset fences in order to approach the second fence straight.
  3. Jumping the second fence. The pair can then repeated, but jumping path B

What can go wrong?

The idea is to jump both fences straight through the middle because the curve between has been successfully ridden. You may find that you and your horse are jumping the first fence at an angle, which is a cheat — a cross-pole is used to discourage you from taking it on the angle.

This is a fault and should be corrected. Similary, you should jump the second fence straight.


  1. The set up can be used with poles on the ground for inexperienced horses
  2. Incorporating cross-country style fences into the exercise (path C)
  3. Practice at home: courses often feature offset arrow-heads
  4. Guide poles on either side of the arrowhead is recommended, even with experienced horses

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