POLE GRIDS - Improve horse and rider co-ordination

Pole work tips. Basic pole work is a beneficial work out for the co-ordination and proficiency of the horse and rider
Repetition of exercises helps relax buzzy horses however always remember not to overdo it, if your horse completes an exercise  well, move on to a different one straight away to avoid the horse becoming bored and nappy.
Gently warm your horse up with flexion work, shoulder in's and serpentine work. Arrange four poles preferably 4 meters long in a square and walk into the box over one pole and out over the one opposite. Keep your horse in a collected even stride and do not allow them to shuffle or jog.
Walk in and turn left or right to exit over the adjacent pole. Work around the square using each side maintaining the constant rhythm.

Riding across the corners helps your aids co-ordination. On entering the box your outside leg asks for propulsion and outside rein controlling the speed, your inside rein asks for flexion. On exiting the box the aids are reversed.
Row of poles.
Arrange a row of poles along the side of a school or hedgerow remembering to adjust the distance between them to suit your horses stride - at walk your horses foot fall should be in the middle of the poles - a width between the poles for a 16hh horse is 1.4 meters (4 feet)
Vary the position of the poles so the horse does not anticipate and rush over them, move them to an open space and ride through at a diagonal or place around a corner of the school - practice at walk to ensure the distances are suitable before your trot through
The discipline and control needed in this work will help open your horses shoulder increasing the stride length and help engage the hind legs to clear the poles and maintain the propulsion.
Try and arrange for a friend to help and adjust the poles for you.

Always use more than two poles as the horse may try to jump both rather than trotting through them.

Inexperienced horses may stumble a little to begin with however do not override them or becomeflustered, be patient they will sort their feet out.

Adjust distances gradually, do not make your horse overstretch too soon as they will not be
able to maintain a constant stride pattern therefore defeating the object of the exercise.

I your horse begins to rush into the poles use half halts on approaching the poles or gently trot
around in a circle to relax the horse and steady the pace.

The positive trot should be maintained after exiting the poles, use the power to elevate the
trot in a compact frame.

Sit up straight and do not look at the poles, keep a constant contact with a light hand to
allow the horse freedom of movement in the head and neck.

For more flat work exercises for you and your horse click here