The following in-hand exercises are designed to improve your horse’s core strength. They are easy to do at home (all you need is a reasonably flat surface and a few poles) and great to do when your riding options are limited. Perhaps you haven’t got a lot of time to spend riding today, or you’d like to spend time working on the ground with your horse in order to improve your bond and help build confidence in each other.

It might even be because it’s too hot to ride, as may be the case for some riders in the U.K. right now due to the heatwave we are currently experiencing.

The exercises explained below are done at walk and will help to improve your horse’s balance and strength. Walk is really useful for getting your horse to use his back correctly, while reducing stress placed on his joints.

It is also easier to correct abnormal movement patterns and re-train muscle memory in walk as the large limb muscles don’t overpower the rest in this gait.

Before you start working on the exercises, walk your horse around for about five minutes to get him warmed up.

Exercise 1: work on his rhythm

Set out eight poles in a straight line with 4ft between each pole.

Walk your horse over the line of poles aiming for the middle of each one and making sure the walk is purposeful and that you keep him straight.

Exercise 2: engage his core

Place four poles end to end in a straight line and serpentine your horse up and down over them making little shallow serpentine patterns as you go.

To make this exercise a little harder for your horse, you can raise one end of your middle two poles onto jump blocks.

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