Ground poles can be an excellent tool in the arena. They not only change things up, but also develop and shape different muscles in your horse’s body. Your horse will experience improved hindquarter strength, better balance, and lengthening of his stride. It doesn’t matter what discipline you ride. Ground poles are not just for jumpers…they’re for everyone!
As the rider, you can also expect to reap rewards. You’ll work on straightness and balance, coordination, proper timing, and developing an eye for correct movement.
Ground poles can easily be moved around, depending on the exercise and gait. Get creative and have fun making interesting challenges and obstacles out of them.
Try These Exercises!
1) Raise the poles off the ground. If your horse is accustomed to walking, trotting, and even cantering over a series of poles, than change it up. You can lift both sides with a small jump standard, raise only one side, rotate the side you lift down the row, or even keep some flat and create a small X at the end.
2) Place a pole on the center mark of a three or four loop serpentine. As you ride through the curved loop, look ahead for the pole and ride overtop of it. This will help you work on straightness.
3) Create a zigzag pattern out of poles. You should guide your horse through the pattern with your seat and legs. Try to rely less on your reins. When you get good, try backing through it.
4) Place eight poles in a large square shape. Ride the outside of the square by keeping your horse very straight even through the corners. Do not let his shoulders or hindquarter pop out when turning.
5) Make a mini jump course out of poles. Place single poles, some in a row, and one or two raised ones. You course should offer variety.
Go slow when trying ground poles for the first time. Let your horse warm up to them by starting with only one and adding poles as he gets more comfortable. Walking over them is perfectly fine in the beginning. As you both get more confident, increase your speed and complexity.