Pole Work Pole work helps the horse look where he is putting his feet, improves the way he uses his limbs, and improves rhythm and balance.
They can also place the horse in front of the fence.
You can use two poles to trot over but some horses can jump them.
Try the horse over a single pole to assess his reaction to poles, and then progress to trotting over three poles with the rider in a balance position.
Do this on both reins.
Scattering poles about the school is a good way to get the horses to think and to pick their feet up.
Try not to dig so much with the lower leg, allow the weight to drop into the feet.
Do not go too fast.
Keep eyes up, looking where you want to go.
Bank up ends of poles with sand to stop them being kicked out of the way.
Raise the poles at one end by putting them on blocks to encourage the horse to use himself.
Walk a circle over the end colour of three poles arranged like spokes of a wheel, with one end of the poles touching at the centre of the “wheel” and with equal spaces between each pole.
Then move to the next colour inwards, then the next colour.
The horse walks a complete circle over each colour, and each circle gets smaller.
Then walk the horse on consecutive circles getting larger until you reach the outside of the poles.
Do the same exercise on the other rein.
This exercise could be done in trot.
Then trot the horse going large in rising trot to make the horse go forwards again.
Walk the horse in a serpentine between three poles spaced 2.5m apart.
Think, “pirouette” at the end of each pole.
Be careful not to pull the inside rein, because this allows the horse to swing his quarters out.
Perform about three serpentines and then change the rein and repeat from the other end of the poles.
Keep in the middle of the horse.
Do not allow your bottom to slip out to the side.
Then go large in rising trot to encourage the horse to go forwards.
Canter over a single pole.
Look well ahead and do not let the horse lengthen over the pole.
Then canter over three poles spaced 2.5m apart.
Keep the horse together over the first pole and do not let him lengthen.
Make sure the reins aren’t too long.
Change the rein and repeat the exercise.
Vary the length of the approach.
Lunging Over Fences, Equipment: Cavesson, boots, bridle, blocks and poles, helper.
Position fence against wall of school.
Lunge to establish a contact with the horse’s nose before introducing the jump.
Start by leading the horse over a pole, then trot over an 18” cross pole, then canter over an upright and then an oxer.
Give plenty of breaks.
The position of the lunger is critical to ensure the horse arrives in the middle of each jump with enough freedom after the jump.
Use poles angled from the floor to the top of the inside block to stop the lunge line snagging on the fence.
Jeremy made the following observations regarding lunge jumping verses loose jumping: The lunge line does put some constraints on the horse, but the handler has more control.
Loose jumping affords the handler less control, but the horse has no constrictions on it.
TIPS Why is the horse rushing? If it was due to the rider, then lungeing would help.
It could be useful to trot the horse over a pole to switch him off a bit.
If the horse rushed after the fence you could site the jump so that the horse landed and then approached a wall.
Grid Work A grid was set up consisting of 7 poles set 2.5m apart with jump wings next to the 2nd, 4th and 6th pole.
Each pole was fixed in place with a small bank of sand on both sides at each end of the pole to prevent it from rolling if it was tapped.
When working a group it is important to set the distances for the shorter striding horse, rather than the longer striding horse.
Start in trot over a single pole on both reins.
The group works individually but stays on the same rein and then everyone changes rein together.
The distances in the grid are set a little shorter than for competition.
The grid was set up on the diagonal to accommodate the other fences that made up the course, which was to be jumped later.
If these fences were not in place, then the grid would be set on the centre line so that both reins could be worked evenly.
At the start the poles were set at 2.5m apart, but changes would be made as necessary.
Trot down the line of poles trying to keep a quiet steady rhythm in a light seat or light rising trot.
Change the rein when there was a space before coming to the grid again.
Each rider must ride with awareness and look out for each other keeping at least 20m between horses.
Over the poles keep very quiet, don’t push or pull.
Then the second pole was made into a small cross pole jump with the first pole 2m in front acting as a placing pole.
Keep the lower leg as the anchor, keeping the body still in the light seat, keeping the eyes up looking to the end of the poles.
Approach in trot and once the horse lands, carry on down the line of poles in canter in a light seat.
Approach in trot, in a calm relaxed manner.
If the horse rushes make a circle in front of the grid.
If the horse gets too quick down the grid open upper body to half halt the horse.
Grid work is tiring for the horse so plenty of breaks needed and do not over do it!
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