Regular pole work can help a horse achieve better hock action and athleticism. Poles on the ground also give them something to concentrate on — handy if they are the type that gets distracted easily.
Top showing producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable uses pole work to improve gait and add variety to her horses’ workloads. She advises adding pole work as part of your horse’s training twice a week.
How to ride it
- Place four poles on the centre line of your arena or training field between 4.5ft and 5ft apart (depending on the length of your horse’s stride).
- Go large in working trot around your arena, maintaining straightness and forwardness.
- When you’re ready to ride over the poles, prepare for the turn on to the centre line before you get there. It needs to be balanced and your horse needs to be in the direct line of the poles — you don’t want to have to ‘wiggle’ to get there. Your outside leg will be important here to help him/her balance.
- Keeping the forwardness, ride straight through the line of poles, aiming for the centre of each one.
- He/she needs to stay straight throughout, not drifting to one side.
- Once you’re through, think about the turn you’re going to make at the end of the centre line. Which way are you going and how will you set your horse up for this?
- Ride through the poles one more time before changing the rein and repeating the exercise again.
- Once your horse is confident, you can raise the poles onto small blocks — either at both ends or just one — to encourage him or her to lift his legs even more.
Please note: main image (top) is a stock image and not of the exercise described. Credit: Kelsey Media Ltd
Meet the expert: Katie Jerram-Hunnable has won myriad supreme showing titles, including multiple Horse of the Year Show and Royal International championships. She produces and rides horses for The Queen, is an accredited trainer and co-author of two books.