Drill Team Patterns


Joining a drill team for competition or pleasure can add a new dimension to your riding. All you need to get started is a dedicated group of riders with willing horses and somewhere to practice. Although many teams look for uniformity, horses can be of any breed, color and size. If you’re interested in joining a drill team but have none available in your area, contact the coach or an experienced member of any existing team for tips on starting your own. Now that you’ve read The Thrill of the Drill in the July 2008 issue of Horse Illustrated and are familiar with the basics, print out these drill formations for your team to try out. Good luck!

Click below to open the drawings below in PDF format
Drill Team Drawing 1Drill Team Drawing 2Drill Team Drawing 3


Straight Line Abreast
This is one of the most basic drill maneuvers. Riders line their horses up side-by-side with saddle horns in a row. The exercise starts at a walk with a lot of space in between horses. As horses and riders become more comfortable, the space between them can be decreased and the speed increased.

If this is too overwhelming at first, the exercise can be completed with two riders and horses in the formation, then eventually four, et cetera.

Nose to Tail
While the straight line abreast maneuver accustoms horses and riders to riding side-by-side, the nose-to-tail exercise lines the team up front to back. This can be done along the rail or in a serpentine around the arena.

Pairing Up
Everyone rides single-file down the centerline, and as they reach the end of the arena, the first rider and horse turn left. The second rider and horse turn right, and so on. When these two lines meet at the centerline again, riders and their horses pair up and continue riding.

90-Degree Turn or Flank Turn
Riding single-file along the rail, riders turn their horses to the center of the arena at the same time, transitioning from riding nose-to-tail to riding abreast. When they reach the other side of the arena, they turn in the opposite direction so they are riding nose-to-tail again.


Mini Sweep
Everyone rides along the rail of the arena in an oblique pattern: Looking at it from the side, each horse’s nose should be in line with the knee of the rider in front of it.

Two riders stand their horses side-by-side in the center of the arena, facing opposite directions. The others line up alongside, facing the same direction as their center, or pivot, rider. Then the whole formation rotates around the two pivot riders, who circle their horses in place. Everyone must ride a little faster than the rider to his or her inside to keep the line straight.

Full Team Crack
Riders and horses line up in the oblique pattern, and everyone moves around one pivot rider and horse in the center of the arena. Again, everyone placed outside of center rides a little faster to keep the line moving straight.


Single File Cross
Half of the team rides single-file down the centerline of the arena while the second half rides across the arena, perpendicular to the other line. The lines alternate crossing the center and make a cross pattern.

The more advanced version of this is to ride a cross in pairs, so each rider and horse crosses two lines of traffic while passing through the center.

Figure Eight
The team rides a continuous figure-eight, and horses and riders cross paths in the middle. The challenge here is to maintain equally sized circles on both sides of the figure.

Interlocking Circles
Instead of riding in a figure-eight, there are two separate circles that intertwine at the center.


  1. I really liked your article on the Drill Teams. Hope to see more about Drill Team in the Near Future. Thanks. I am in the “Esprit de Corp” Drill Team from Medford, WI. And I love it. You guys Rock!

  2. Good article. I would like to have access to some drill patterns that have been developed. I am a member of the Moila Shrine Mounted Drill Team in St. Joe, MO.

  3. This is an excellent article! I have been toying with the idea of starting this with my 4-H club and now we have an idea of what do do! Thanks!

  4. I have been on a Drill Team for about 5 or 6 years. And I think that these are very nice patterns for a good team.

  5. I loved this. If fact, it looks like so much fun, four of us have started our first Drill Team in order to drive the winter blues away. It gives us a fun activity to try while indoors for the long cold winter. We won’t compete but doing it just for fun and to teach us and our horses some new things. thanks

  6. I think that this article is great becuase more people should get involed in drill team. It is a great way to keep riding fun during the long cold winters and to do performances during the summer. I have been on a drill team for a little while now. I am part of the Midwest Renegades and we also have a theme drill (The Gangstas), a youth team (The Dirt Devils), and a trick riding team (Dare Devils). Thanks for the article.

  7. I’ve ridden for a drill team for 8 years now. I’m part of a non-profit organization called the Westernaires, based out of Jefferson County, CO, made up of 1000 riders and hundreds of volunteers, & I LOVE it! We ride every Saturday and diagram our drills kind of like this, and the names are different, but same concept. We also do drill specialties such as Liberty (bareback and bridle-less jumping), vaulting, dressage, trick, and many ground specialties. (westernaires.org)

  8. Our 4H Club has started working on the drill patterns. They are going to present a program at the Medina County Fair and the girls are really excited about doing this.

  9. This article was a great help. I have been all over the internet, looking for actual patterns for my 4-H drill team. These are the first and best I have come across. Thanks so much.

  10. My girlfriend & I are hoping to get a drill team going in our area and these patterns are fabulous . We have a lot of work to do getting enough commitment but sure are going to give it a try. Thanks so much for the info. so exciting.

  11. Thanks for all the good help. I am starting my own drill team for my area where no one really knows anything about drill team!!but this has helped me alot!!!

  12. We started what we call a hands on activity through the 4H called the 4H Riders this year. We get together every Sunday afternoon and play games on horse back and learn patterns and have just a grand time and the horsemanship that has blossomed with this activity is amazing. We were doing patterns but didn’t know what to call some of the manuvers and this helps greatly – thanks! Pam

  13. it dosnt givr me the pictures i was looking for. i have looked every were and can not find any pictures of the drill team or the patterns

  14. In response to shoot the moon: pairs of riders approach each other from opposite sides. Instead of passing like a suicide, one line of pairs splits to allow the other line to pass between so you in essence have a pair on the inside going one direction while another pair flanks them, split apart on the outside.

  15. I’m a team captain of a drill team i’m lookeing for some new drill do you have some or know where I can get some ideal from. Thanks Renee’

  16. Where can I find this pattern Shoot the Moon and others. I use to belong to a drill team and am thinking of starting one myself.

  17. I enjoyed this article and patterns. Hope you will do more patterns. I am the coach and this is all new to our State. Thanks for info.

  18. These are some good basic patterns to start with. And one of the only ones that are layed out on the internet. if you want to get more ideas, just watch youtube videos. Type in equestrian drill team competion 2011. they have some cool ones.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here