Pole work is suitable for all ages. Riders in various disciplines, including dressage, jumping, eventing, and reining, can benefit from good pole work.
Pole work may enhance your horse’s strength and flexibility, as well as their ability to engage the hindquarters and make their paces more expressive and cadent.
Here are three workouts that you may add to your riding practice. Do them daily, and you’ll rapidly notice improvements in your horses’ strength, fitness, and musculature.
When it comes to pole work, remember always to start cautiously. Walking poles may also be demanding, and even if your horse does not appear to be puffing, their muscles will feel the strain.
Exercise 1: Walking With Poles
Set up six straight poles in a row. If your horse is inexperienced, lacks strength, or is unfamiliar with pole work, begin with them flat on the ground and work your way up to each pole being elevated on one side.
If you don’t have a tape measure, you may get a reasonable general estimate for walking pole distances by placing one foot precisely in front of the other as if you were walking a tightrope. The distance in metres is 0.8-0.9 metres.
Because there is no pause in the walk, all the work to elevate their feet over the plastic show jump poles is done through the muscles. This is a great approach to strengthen your core and back end, make your pelvis more flexible and boost your ability to bend and engage your hocks.
Exercise 2: Trot With S-Shaped Poles
This will require at least eight poles. Arrange them in an S configuration. Five ‘tightrope steps’ from the centre to the middle of each pole and one ‘large’ human step are reasonable estimates. The poles will form a fan shape on each curve of the S.
Trot over the poles in a steady working trot after your horse has warmed up. You’ll need to lead him through the curves of the S with your legs and seat.
If your horse isn’t used to pole work, repeat this process 2-3 times on each side before proceeding. As he improves fitness, you may increase the number of repetitions and focus on lifting the pole ends.
You’ll note that your horse needs to engage his rear end as you go through it. As a result, your trot should be livelier and springier. However, this exercise is excellent for revealing one-sidedness or a lack of flexibility in your horse. He may struggle to alter the bend and find it more challenging to stimulate one hind leg than the other.
It is a strenuous workout, so don’t be discouraged if you struggle. You may always ride the first half of an S shape and then ride away from the poles by Sports Mark before turning back and completing the other half on the other rein, gradually working your way up to riding the whole S.
Exercise 3: Canter Poles On A Fan
Many individuals do the ‘clock face’ canter pole exercise with four poles on a circle, but only some riders appear to employ the fan shape while cantering, even though it is routinely used with trotting poles.
Set up 3 to 4 canter poles on a fan, with a space of about three giant steps between the middle of each pole. Of course, this means that the distance between the Plastic horse jumps poles is considerably greater on the outside and much less on the interior.
Work in a circle, cantering over the centre of the poles when you get to that point. Your horse should canter the poles without leaping or hurrying while maintaining rhythm and bend. Repeat on each side, and if your horse responds to your aids, use the poles’ outer ends for an extended canter and the poles’ inner ends for a collected canter.
As you gain experience, you may prolong one circle, gather the next, raise opposite ends, and even add extra poles. You may utilise mini verticals every two to three poles to test yourself if you have additional poles.
This exercise is excellent for building hind-end drive and encouraging the horse to elevate his forehand and engage his core.
Maintaining an equal rhythm requires the horse to balance himself and not collapse into the forehand or rush with his head in the air; therefore, completing this exercise frequently will strengthen the base of the neck, the back muscles, and the rear end.