Designed by vet physiotherapist Sammy Finnemore, improved cadence and suspension are just two of the benefits of riding this grid.

There’s nothing quite like gridwork to help develop your horse’s cadence and suspension as he will need to lift his feet higher in order to clear the poles without knocking them.

Add in bending, changes of rein and transitions, and his core strength, range of movement and suppleness are challenged too.

This grid is designed to do all of this — it might look a bit complicated, but it really isn’t. This grid will also help you to develop your sense of rhythm, accuracy and an eye for distances — all useful skills, whatever discipline you enjoy.

Let’s get moving

It’s important to let your horse figure his own way through the grid with little interference from you.

Approach in a good rhythm, then let the poles do the work. Sit up, staying in balance even if he stutters or rolls one of the poles. Allow him to stretch his neck forwards so he’s encouraged to work over his back.

  • In walk, ride the blue lines as two separate 20m circles.
  • When you’re ready, transition to trot and ride the blue lines again, only this time as a figure of eight. Let your horse stretch his neck forwards, and remember to change your diagonal when you change the bend.
  • Staying on a 20m circle, now ride the blue line and the green line together. Start off
    in walk, then repeat in trot.
  • Change the striding of the blue lines to canter and ride two separate 20m circles.
  • Staying in canter, ride the blue lines as a figure of eight, with a canter-trot-canter transition in the middle to change the rein — the horizontal pole will help with this. Stay balanced in the transition — tipping forward will affect your horse’s balance.
  • To develop the exercise further, raise the poles on the green line at the outer end.
  • Next, try raising both ends of the central horizontal pole on the blue line grid.

Change the challenge

Once your horse is feeling confident with the blue and green lines, try building a chicane of poles (see diagram, right).

  • First ride the pink line in trot. Your horse needs to change the bend quickly in this exercise so it’s excellent for developing suppleness. Use your upper body and legs to change the bend, not your reins.
  • Raise the poles on the first curve of the chicane at one end, and the poles on the second curve on the other end. Trot through on both reins.
  • Now additionally raise both ends of the poles in the straight part of the grid. Trot through on both reins.

Watch the video below to see how a horse and rider tackle this polework grid: