One ground pole exercise for every horse

I’m constantly looking for new ways to challenge my horse between jumping lessons. Trotting and cantering circles can become extremely tedious for them, and I find if I don’t get creative in  schooling sessions, our progress starts to lag.

I found this great article on Practical Horseman, and shared it with my friend. Last Thursday when I arrived at the barn, she had dragged 16 poles into the arena and set up the course. It spectacular!


Now, you don’t need to own 16 poles to use this exercise. If you have four poles, you can practice all the components. Jim Wofford, who designed this exercise, says its great practice for all jumping horses. But you don’t need to compete in the hunter or jumper ring to benefit from it.

Your emphasis here should be on the rhythm of your horse’s trot, and the calmness and regularity of his step as he negotiates the cavalletti. Your horse should step over the ground poles with relaxed back muscles, and his head and neck should lower slightly, in order for him to measure his step to the next pole.

Doesn’t that sound like something everyone strives for in their schooling? Developing the top line muscles while getting your horse engaged, interested and relaxed? The next time you’re looking to change up your schooling routine, give this exercise a try.

Here’s how Moe fared once I put all the pieces together:

I found the poles with the smallest space in between to be the most challenging – the horse has to shorten his stride, but he still needs to snap his knees up to clear the poles. Do you practice exercises like these? What has your experience been?

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