If you’re starting with poles on the floor, place four poles in a circle at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock on a 20m circle. Choose two poles opposite each other to start with and practise riding over them, focusing on keeping a regular rhythm between the poles. When you feel ready you can then start to canter over the poles, aiming to keep the number of strides and the size of the circle between each pole the same. If needs be you can make the exercise easier by placing the poles on a bigger circle.

Once you and your horse feel confident in riding the two poles together gradually add in the other poles, always aiming to keep the same number of strides between the poles. The exercise can be completed in walk, trot and canter. When your horse is happily cantering in a natural, regular rhythm through the poles on both reins you can start practising adding or removing strides between the poles. This may be a difficult exercise for your horse, so allow him time to understand what is being asked and start by just asking for one stride change. Always aim to keep the circle the same size and your horse moving around your inside leg in a regular rhythm. Another progression for this exercise is to raise the inside end of the pole. This will aid the inside limb action and discourage leaning to the inside.


Jake often completes this as a jumping exercise with his horses. The fences are placed the same as for the pole exercise, in a circle at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, with four horse strides between the fence. Keeping the fences small will give your horse confidence as they understand what is being asked of them. As with the pole exercise, introduce the poles slowly, starting with just jumping one fence on a circle on each rein. When your horse is happily jumping in a regular rhythm on the circle you can add the fence on the opposing side of the circle. Gradually add each fence until you’re jumping every fence on the circle.

“I use his exercise with all of my horses to help with their balance, control and suppleness. Always try to keep the circle the same size and ride four strides between each fence. Keep the fences small to grow your horse’s confidence, this exercise isn’t about how big the jump is but how well they execute it. It’s also a great warm up exercise for older horses as they have to land on the correct leg” said Jake.

About Jake:

At just 22 Jake is already making a name for himself in the showjumping world. Following his family’s footsteps, he takes after his parents and grandfather who were successful show jumpers. Based in Nottinghamshire with his father, Saywell Equestrian produce horses alongside Jake competing internationally. Jake was awarded the inaugural Ella Popely Mentorship at Olympia in 2017. Given to a talented up-an-coming rider aged 18-25 that is competing at 1.40m and who has shown exceptional resilience and dedication to the sport, the selectors felt Jake met every criteria. Part of the World Class Programme Jake certainly has an exciting future.