It’s easy and fun - The ‘U’ Shape Exercise! 

A lot of people will have heard of the "clock" type pole work, with which you place 4 poles on a circle at 12, 3, 6 and 9 to improve canter work and help with changing stride length. 

This is a great exercise that is easy and used a lot by coaches. It can be adapted and changed so you can use it for different purposes or to cater for different riders and horses of different abilities. 

The U shape: 
Can be used in lessons to help with numerous things, such as: 

- Improving canter work

- Turning whilst keeping a collected canter 

- Helping to get the rider to think about more than just one thing

All of which are important for anyone who wants to take up show jumping seriously. 

  • Begin by placing 3 poles in the school in an elongated U shape. 
  • The U shape creates the beginning and the end to the exercise, with 3 parts to the exercise, Fence 1, Fence 2 and Fence 3. 
  • The U shape can also be made longer or shorter depending on how hard you want the exercise to be and begins with you simply cantering over the poles.
  • If you find this difficult, start by using the first 2 poles only and miss the 3rd one out.
The objective is to keep a collected and bouncy canter, whilst riding a straight line over the first pole, then turning your horse for the second pole whilst keeping that same collected and bouncy canter and then riding straight to the second pole. 

It is important to use your leg aids on the turn to the second pole. 

Here you are trying to stop the horse from "swaying" or dropping his shoulder and aiming to keep a well together and collected turn. 
U SHAPE exercise
So, if  you follow the diagram and go from Pole 1 to Pole 2, you would use your inside leg to push around the corner and  block the horse with your outside leg to stop the horse from falling through the turn. 

Remember, once you have turned it is important to then ride straight again for your second pole, and then the same for the third pole. 

Once you have mastered the poles on the ground you can then make them into fences, making the jumps as high as you feel comfortable with. 

Remember to always ride the exercise from both the left and right rein. 

Tips for this exercise: 
-  You are aiming for a collected, bouncy and controlled canter during this exercise. 

- It isn't about how HIGH the fences are, but how controlled you can place a horse to a fence. 

- It is important to ride the elongated U shape. Don’t stay on a circle; this isn't what this exercise is about. It’s about riding a straight line, turning your horse whilst keeping a collected canter and then riding straight again to the next fence. 

- Use your leg aids just as much as you use your hand aids

Remember to have lots of fun with this exercise; It will make a difference too you and your riding. www.ktequestrian.com
For more horse riding exercises and tops Read more