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Troop Drill

Troop Drill provides a very satisfactory, safe and quick method of moving large groups of children from one point to another. Furthermore it is a satisfactory method of warming up horses before more concentrated work is commenced.
In the following all the commands, which are actually given by the Instructor, are in dark print and are in inverted commas.

THE TROOP
A troop consists of sections of four. The number of sections is determined by the number of riders divided by four. for example 16 riders would be four sections (an ideal number but in no way compulsory).

ON PARADE
This is the commencement of Pony Club control and the basic movement in Troop Drill. To obtain the attention of the children the Instructor uses a whistle or a strong voice, the command being 'On Parade'. Before the children come into troop line a Right Marker must be selected, either prior to or on the spot. This should be a well-considered selection as this rider contributes much to the degree of efficiency of all movements. The Instructor should look for an alert, competent rider with a mount of calm temperament, taller than the average of the troop. This combination is responsible for maintaining the required pace and dressing (most movements).
Therefore it can be readily seen that there is need for careful choice, the most co-operative child mounted on a small pony in a troop of large horses would be of no value as a Right Marker. Conversely a prominent horse with a rider unable to exercise the required control, would be of equal value to the small pony. The Instructor will either have placed a ground marker (small flag or disc) or stand at the spot where the Right Marker has to take up his position.

'Right Marker'. On this command the Right Marker will ride briskly but calmly to the spot indicated and sit at attention. Refer to Fig.1.

'Troop - Fall In'. The children in the troop will ride briskly and calmly into line forming up on the left hand of the Right Marker with sufficient space to allow 15 centimetres between rider's knees when mounted. Refer to Fig. 1. Ideally the taller and longer striding horses will be at the front of the troop. If there is more than one troop on parade, the troop must be defined in the command 'Red Troop - Fall in'

'Troop - Number'. On this command the troop numbers from the right flank 1.2.3.4.5.6.7. etc. The Right Marker would be No.1. The Instructor must be, able to hear clearly each number as it is called.
As the child calls out his number he will immediately turn his head to the left, this indicates to the next rider that it is his turn. If a mistake is made, the command 'As You Were' is given and the numbering is recommenced. 

Troop line Fig 1

(Fig 1)

'Centre Guide - Prove'. The Centre Guide (centre rider) would, on this command extend the right arm horizontally, the other riders in the troop then line their bodies up with the body of the Centre Guide. The Centre Guide is being used for the dressing to obtain a straight correct Troop Line. At the command 'As You Were' the Centre Guide resumes the normal position. IF the troop consists, of 16 riders, No. 8 would be the Centre Guide. Refer to Fig. 1.

'Tell Off By Sections'. On this command the troop numbers from the right flank, 1.2.3.4. 1.2.3.4., etc. Refer to Fig. 1. The numbering is done in the same manner as described under 'Troop - Number'.
The preceding commands have been set out as they would be used by an Instructor working mounted children. Children may also be placed in Troop Line leading their mounts. If this is to be done the Instructor would use the same commands to bring the children into line and to number them off. They would then be mounted as set down later in this Part, the dressing would be checked and the sections defined. If, while On Parade, a horse comes forward out of Troop Line, it must be ridden or led around the end of the troop and replaced in position from the back. The horse should not be Reined Back or pushed back into position, as this may be dangerous, to other children. The Instructor must make sure that any child retaking position from the back has ample room, as this also can be dangerous.
Any horse which is known to kick without provocation should be placed at the end of the Troop Line or prohibited from taking part in Troop Drill. The safety, of the children must be the Instructor's first consideration.

Delivery of the Commands
The Instructor must give all commands in such a way that the children have time to prepare for the next movement or change in Pace, Direction or Formation. The commands should be loud, clear and as simple as possible to enable the children to prepare for the movement the commands are prolonged. For example
'Left ... (pause).....Wheel',    'Form Half.......(pause)..... Sections',   'Walk . . . (pause)......March'
The troop would not commence any movement or change until the Instructor had finished giving the command. The ability of the troop to perform all changes smoothly will depend largely on the instructor's delivery of the commands. 

Troop Section (Fig 2)
(Fig 2)

When changing pace the use of a cautionary command is recommended, for example 'Prepare to Trot' followed, when the troop is prepared, by the command 'Trr ... (pause)..... ot'. This type of cautionary command followed by the main command would he used by an instructor conducting a Group type lesson. Commands used in normal Pony Club instruction should be standardised on Troop Drill commands.

MOVING OFF FROM TROOP LINE
When the Instructor has the troop mounted in troop Line with the sections defined, Troop Drill can be commenced. On the following commands the children would ride straightforward from the Troop Line. The first part of these commands indicates the formation and the second part indicates the pace.

'Form Sections - Walk March', Refer Fig. 2.
'Form Half Sections - Walk March', Refer Fig.3,
'Form Single File - Walk March'. The above three commands reduce the formation (or change it) while the command 'Troop - Walk March' would mean that the Troop Line is retained and all children would ride forward at the walk, in Troop Line.
The troop may also be moved off to the right in Sections, half Sections or Single File. Refer to CHANGE DIRECTION AS WELL AS CHANGE FORMATION.

Intervals Between horses
Correct intervals are vital for safety and must be observed at all times, the correct internal is one Clear horse length (two metres) distance from the horse in front.

troop Fig 3.
(Fig 3)

Work Area
A large work area is required for Troop Drill particularly if the troop is large or there is more than one troop On Parade. The choice of movements may he limited by, restricted space, for instance, if the Right Marker is riding parallel to a fence, it would be foolish for the Instructor to give the Command 'Right Wheel'.

T0 CHANGE FORMATlON AND PACE
When formation and pace are changed the command for the change of formation is followed by, the command for the change of pace, for example 'Form Half Sections Prepare to Trot - Trot'. As it is difficult for children to change pace, change formation and keep the correct intervals all at the same time, a wise Instructor will keep Troop Drill very simple and try to do one thing at a time.

TO CHANGE DIRECTION AS WELL, AS CHANGE FORMATION
From Troop Line
If the riders are in Troop Line at the Halt the Instructor gives the command 'Sections Right - Walk March' each section does a right wheel, the troop will then be advancing with sections following in line or Column of Route. Refer to fig 3. This type of' command can, also be used to result in Single File or Half' Section formation. 'Single File Right - Walk March', 'Half Sections Right - Walk March'.

From Sections in Line (Column of Route)
The command 'Troop to the Left' is used when the Instructor has the troop moving in Column of Route and wishes to form a Troop Line. On the command each section simultaneously left wheels, resulting in the Troop Line being formed. The Troop, Line would he moving at the same pace as before. to the left, at right angles to the former direction. When in Troop Line the dressing would be taken from the Centre Guide. Refer to Fig. 5. If the troop were required to come to the halt after forming Troop Line the, command would be 'Troop to the left - Halt'
If the command 'Troop to the Right' were given when the troop was moving in Column of Route, all Sections would simultaneously right wheel and form a Troop Line, however the riders would be in disarray and it would be necessary to give the command 'Sections Left' to achieve the former order.

troop fig 4.
(Fig 4)

troop fig 5.
(Fig 5)

TO CHANGE DIRECTION
Wheels
Wheels either left or right may be given to any, formation to change direction, in all cases this will mean a 90-degree change. The commands are 'Left - Wheel' or 'Right Wheel' The word turn is not to be used in Pony Club Troop Drill.
Should the occasion demand less than a right angle, the Instructor will command 'Forward' when the required direction is reached. IF a greater angle is required, the Instructor will command 'Continue the Wheel' then 'Forward'.
The dressing for all Wheels is taken from the inner flank. During Wheels the inner flank riders need to shorten stride whilst the outer flank riders lengthen stride.

TO CHANGE PACE

The commands for change or pace are 'Walk - March' (from the halt), 'Prepare to Trot' - 'Trot',' Prepare to' Canter ' - 'Canter', 'Prepare to Walk ' - 'Walk' (from the trot), 'Prepare to Halt' Halt'.

TO CHANGE FORMATION

The commands for the change of formation are: 'Form Single File','Form Half Sections', 'Form Sections' and 'Form Troop'. When changing formation, the new formation is achieved then the errors in distances (intervals between horses) are corrected.

Forming Troop
If the Instructor has sections in line to obtain a Troop Line the command 'Form Troop' would be given. The leading section maintains the same direction and pace, and the following sections progressively form up on the left to form the original Troop Line.

Alteration of Pace When Changing Formation

The criteria for changing formation is that the new formation must be achieved as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
When building up formation it is correct for the back riders to change pace to quickly obtain the new formation, the extra pace is then used to catch up the correct intervals between horses. When breaking down formation it is correct for the back riders to move slowly or even halt while the front riders ride smartly ahead. When the new formation is achieved the errors in the intervals between horses are corrected. As the Right Marker (No. 1 rider) is responsible for the pace, he should not alter pace when changing formation. The No. 1 rider is sometimes referred to as the Leading File. The whole troop must proceed at the former pace as soon as the formation and correct intervals are obtained. This method of changing pace when altering formation also applies to Teams competing in Pony Club Team Competitions.

TROOPS OF ODD NUMBERS

It is reasonable to assume that not always will troops be complete multiples of four riders. There is no hardship in drilling a troop of say 17, 18, 19 or for that matter 25 riders. If there are 17 riders in the troop then the odd rider will follow the No. 1 of the section immediately in front. If there are 18 riders, No. 18 would follow immediately behind No. 4 rider of the section in front. With 19 riders, No. 17 will follow -No. 1, No. 18 will follow No. 2, and No. 19 follows No. 4 of the section in front. This is done to 'Fill' outer flanks. Naturally it applies only to movements in Column of' Route. All other formations with odd numbers will present no problems.

WORKING FROM THE LEFT FLANK

The Troop Drill movements, which have been explained in this part, have been set out working from the Right Flank of the Troop. The alert Instructor will find no difficulty in working from Left Flank provided the same principles are applied. However it is recommended that Instructors employ the more usual method and work from the Right Flank.

troop fig 6.(Fig 6)

MOUNTING AND DISMOUNTING

For a description of the 'Stand To'. 'Prepare to Mount', and 'Prepare to Dismount' positions refer to Section 1: Part 1 Mounting and Dismounting. Small children on tall mounts and very young children often require assistance to mount therefore, unless the Instructor has help it may be safer to mount and dismount such children individually. The smoothness and order of' this movement depends largely, on whether the mounts stand still. It should be impressed on children that they should teach their mounts to stand. Mounting and dismounting can only be accomplished with any reasonable degree of efficiency, if the correct spacing and distances are strictly, maintained by all troop members.

To Mount in Troop Line
'Prepare
to Mount'. On this command the odd numbers would lead their Horses two lengths forward, the whole troop would then take up the 'Prepare to Mount' position.
'Mount'. The troop mounts, the even numbers will then ride forward into line with the odd numbers forming the Troop Line.

To Dismount, In Troop Line
'Prepare to Dismount'. On this command the odd numbers would ride two horse lengths (one clear horse length) forward in line, the whole troop then takes up the 'Prepare to Dismount' position. 'Dismount'. The troop dismounts and the even numbers lead up to form Troop Line. The troop will be in the 'Stand To' position.

Mount and Dismount, One Section Alone
One section alone, for example a Pony Club Team, would mount and dismount as described under In Troop Line. Refer to Fig. 6.

GENERAL
Children may become bored if they are subjected to long periods of Troop Drill, most children enjoy other adaptations such as Musical Rides and Quadrilles, providing these are not overdone. The Instructor should use all words clearly and confidently, one of' the secrets of Troop Drill is economy of words, the orders are simple and every Instructor should know them.

 

© 2004 Ponyclub Victoria