Pole bending is an exciting speed event that tests the rider’s and horse’s ability to weave through a series of poles. The pattern must be completed as quick as possible, as every second counts. This discipline is perfect for riders who want to gain better control of their horse’s speed through turns. It isn’t exclusively for experienced riders either. If you’re interested in giving it a whirl, follow these tips to be successful!
- Slow and steady: Try riding through the poles at a walk or jog. Don’t spend more than a couple of minutes going through them. This will allow you the opportunity to practice bending with your legs rather than relying on your reins.
- Practice different figures: It’s important not to drill the poles. Change up your rides by walking, jogging, and loping circles, serpentines, and figure 8s. Your horse should be balanced enough to lope a circle before you even begin going through the poles.
- Don’t forget about yourself: Make sure you keep yourself centered in the saddle. Try to avoid excessive leaning either forward or back, kicking, and wild hand movements.
- Bend around the last pole: Tip your horse’s nose around the last pole and grab the horn with your other hand to push yourself deep into the saddle. You should be pulling back to your hip, rather than down and out. Your hands should be placed evenly on the reins for the rest of the pattern.
- A straight line: While it might seem like you’re weaving through the pattern, in reality your horse should be staying rather straight. Dramatic turns will knock your horse off balance and cause you to lose speed and time.
Find a good teacher who can show you the ins and outs of this fun sport. Within no time, you’ll be a more athletic rider and horse team!