pole bending COWGIRL magazine
A rider galloping through the pole bending pattern. Photo by Christine Benton.……

Do you like speed events? You should definitely look into the discipline of pole bending. Similar to barrel racing, this sport requires a rider to go as fast as they can. They must weave through a series of standing poles. It’s a thrilling challenge!

What is Pole Bending?

In this timed event, there is usually a series of six poles in a line. Riders run down the line, weave through the poles, weave back through them again, and race to the finish line. Penalties are given for missing a pole, going off course, or knocking one over. There is not one for touching the pole though! The winning time usually has no penalties.

This discipline is frequently seen at rodeos, high school events, and various breed shows.

A girl weaving through poles. Photo by Christine Benton.

Traits of a Pole Pending Horse

  • Agile
  • Responsive
  • Fast
  • Muscular hindquarters
  • Long, sloping shoulders
  • Willing attitude

Typically, Quarter horses and other stock types are used. You may also see the occasional Arabian or Morgan horse. Don’t get hung up on breed! A horse with the right built and temperament is more important than anything else.

The Sport in Action

If you’d like to get involved, then locate an instructor with an experienced horse. It can be helpful to ride one that knows the drill. You can also find some local shows to watch! The National Pole Pending Association is a good place to start.