Pole Work

Riding over poles has a number of benefits for your horse including an increased range of motion, engaging the hindquarters and improving core stability, stride length and proprioception. It can also help you as a rider to practise shortening and lengthening strides, riding to and from a fence and your accuracy.

Jake likes to incorporate pole work into his horses everyday schooling, so that it becomes a usual part of their training. He likes to use both poles on the floor and cavaletti (poles raised off the floor) in all paces.

One of Jake’s favoured exercises is to use cavaletti in a straight line with a distance of five horse strides between each pole. The aim of the exercise is for the horse to jump the first pole in and stay calm and controlled through five strides before jumping out over the second pole. The exercise can be done with poles on the floor too, but Jake prefers to use cavaletti encourage the horse to jump in and then keep to five strides in a regular rhythm without rushing or getting excited.

Alongside staying in a rhythm the exercise can be used to practise riding in straight lines, from the approach, through the poles and then away from the second pole.

“This exercise is great for all horses to maintain their rhythm and straightness. I use it a lot with my younger horses as well as a warm up for the more established horses. Once they have mastered jumping through and completing it in five strides, you can use the exercise to teach the horse to shorten and lengthen, completing the distance in four or six strides instead of five” said Jake.

“The exercise teaches the horse to change their stride length, rather than their speed. It is also a good exercise to use in training to work on a rider’s reactions – you have to practise collection as soon as you’ve jumped the first pole in, rather than getting halfway between the poles and then start shortening.”