Trotting poles are a great way to get your horse thinking about hoof placement, a key factor of jumping clear rounds. But, if your horse trips over trotting poles, how can you help?

Caroline Moore, Fellow of the BHS and British Eventing coach explains why it happens and what to do.

More haste less speed
Normally tripping over poles is down to an issue with your horse’s hoof-brain coordination. Mistakes like this normally occur when a horse is rushing – or trying to rush.

To solve the problem, it’s crucial to obtain a good rhythm and balance, so build in plenty of half-halts to ask him to wait and listen to you.

Let him look down

However, it’s equally as important to make sure you ride with an allowing contact.

Your horse must be able to look down at poles on the ground, since restriction with the reins can restrict his eyesight and prevent his shoulder and forelegs from working correctly.

Set him up for success

Allowing your horse some sense of achievement will also build his confidence, so encourage mental relaxation by setting him up for success.

You can do this by starting with one pole only and praising him for every neat completion of the task.

Check your distances

When you do add more poles, tripping or standing on them might also be caused by incorrect distances. For horses of 15.2hh upwards, a rough guide is to have the poles about a metre apart.

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