Tip of the day

Schooling Exercise with Poles

This was a handy exercise that I did with Jo May last night. I was riding a very green 5yo which can barely canter and he managed to cope so I am pretty sure most horses will be fine!

1) 1This is the basic set up for the exercise. The distance is one canter stride between the poles (about 9ft-11ft)

The pole on the right is optional but a useful addition to the exercise.










2 2) The first part of the exercise is to trot round the poles. They have purposely been put close to the arena fence to make it harder for the horse and rider. You are looking for balanced smooth turns and to keep the same rhythm.

Once you have gone from both ends of the arena and you are happy its going well and the horse has the right idea you add the walk transition in where the stars are. The idea is the downward transition should be smooth and organised and happen! The upward transition should be quick off the leg and balanced.

Again this can be ridden from both ends of the arena.



3 3) The next stage to make it harder is trot to halt transitions. On the 5yo I made them progressive rather than expecting halt and I was extra strict about his staying straight and square in the halt as he was a bit all over the place going into it. After the halt the horse should be off the leg and into trot. If they are not then you might need to do some work on sharpening them off your leg and getting them listening. This exercise comes up quickly but the horse soon learns what is required and the rider gets better at organising!





4 4) Now to make life really hard canter is introduced. The 5yo did this exercise. We were looking for sharpness off the leg even if he was not able to canter at the middle of the poles and wobbled around quite a bit.







5 5) The full exercise, this is hard but it does get easier! It is a real test of whether your horse is listening, supple and off the leg. We did not do this with the 5yo but horses who are competing at BE80 and 90 were doing it successfully.







6 6) To mix it up you finally go down the poles in a straight line. This was done after weaving round the poles. You then jumped the single pole in a balanced canter in the middle and then went down the line checking for straightness and keeping the canter balanced.









7 7) The final element was to raise the poles onto the stand one one side and canter down them. This helps work the canter and really tests straightness so the rider has to work hard.

About the author


An amateur rider who produces all her own horses. I have competed at novice level and sadly never got further due to bad luck with horses but I am still ambitious to achieve a lot more. I have a riding qualification in UKCC2 and a diploma in NLP. Sports science and particularly the mental game fascinates me. For a day job I work for a large multinational brand.

1 Comment

  • Finally, a genuinely new exercise for us! Haven’t come across this one at all before. Thank you!