Ridden TREC – S Bend In Hand

© Kim Stoddard


An S-shaped corridor marked with raised bars balanced on upright holders with flags indicating entrance and exit. The S Bend is composed of (2) 4m outside bars, (2) 2.20 m end bars, (2) 1.80 m inside bars, 4 corner uprights, and 4 end uprights. Dimensions are the same for all Levels.

– Overall Width: 2.7 m
– Interior Corridor Width: .90 m
– Overall Length: 4 m
– Height: Around .2 to .3 m (8-10”)


To lead the horse through the S Bend in a fluid forward motion without knocking down the poles.

To be performed at a walk.

Scoring This Obstacle

See also: Ridden Obstacles / Scoring

Effectiveness Faults (E Score) -3 per incident

BEFORE the obstacle:

– Running Out
– Error of Course Corrected
– Stepping Back
– Refusal
– Circling

IN the obstacle:

– Break of Gait (Stopping)
– Knocking down a bar

Each bar (or part thereof) knocked down by horse or rider = 1 fault

Style Faults (S Score) -1 per incident.

– Irregular Forward Motion
– Progression on Tense Reins
– Loss of Balance of the Horse or the Rider
– Incorrect Rider Aids
– Horse Moving Sideways
– Horse’s Nose Passing Rider’s Shoulder

(Flapping Stirrups – see Penalties).

Penalties (P Score)

– Brutality (-5)
– Dangerous Handling (-5)
– Fall of Horse or Rider (Rider Excused)
– Leaving The Obstacle (-10)
– Flapping Stirrups / USA (-1)
– Any gait other than walk X (No Score)

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Ridden TREC Obstacles / Scoring

Images © K. Stoddard, N. Basile

– Scroll to the bottom of the page for Judge’s Scorecard –

Obstacle Building Tips:

Mini Clinic: Tips For Success

S-Bend In Hand


Get the horse used to following directly behind you on a medium rein and practice making a quick change of direction in hand. Begin by using a demonstrative gesture (and voice command) to cue for the turn about. For example: At a walk, hold reins in right hand, point right, change direction with horse following. Continue at a walk, switch reins to left hand, point left, change direction. Keep walking.

Introduction to the Obstacle:

It can be helpful to start with ½ of the S bend at a time to get the horse used to turning within the rails, before putting it all together.


The key to this obstacle is timing and maintaining forward momentum. As your horse is behind you, be sure to walk to the very end of the S-Bend and ask for the turn as you are making it, using the technique described in the warm-up exercise. Make sure to walk deep enough into the turn for the horse’s hind legs to clear the short rail, and to achieve a moment of straightness before starting the second turn. 

When schooling, pick a spot to lead to after the obstacle vs. stopping the moment you complete the task.

Trouble Shooting: 

A common mistake: The rider is walking too slowly and the horse drifts, stalls, or misunderstands the question. March on and lead with intention!

Ridden TREC Obstacle Gallery

Next: S-Bend Ridden













A. E Score: 7 / S Score: 3 / Total: 10

B. E Score: 1 (2 rails down) / S Score: 0 / Total: 1

C. E Score: 4 (1 rail down) / S Score: -1 rider position / Total: 3

D. E Score: 7 / S Score: 3 / Total: 10