Poles Poles Poles

Jack and I have had LOTS of homework this year, and in order to continue working on his shape over fences we’ve also introduced a steady diet of pole work.

Sometimes this means a whole arena set up with poles in tons of formations- trot poles, canter poles, elevated poles, etc etc. Other times it’s simply a few trot poles set somewhere accessible that we incorporate into a flat ride.

On the days where poles are the key component of our ride, you will notice that I incorporate draw reins. The whole point of working over poles is to encourage Jack to keep his neck soft and poll down (as opposed to neck tight and upright as a giraffe), and at the moment the draw reins help me to achieve that shape.

You would think, considering that Jack is a proven Training level event horse, that poles would be NBD. *sigh*… if only.

Unfortunately this is the reaction I often get from poles. See yesterday’s reaction, when we had done lots of pole work only 4 days prior:

Yes, I did get after him for this reaction. He had walked by them constantly for about 10 minutes at that point (it’s a dressage court as you can see, so they weren’t exactly avoidable) and the spook resonated to me as an evasion- so I [clearly, pointedly] reminded him his job was to go forward. After that, as you can see, he was fine. Doofus.

(Disclaimer: it is NOT my MO to kick my horse in the ribs. But lacking a bat to remind him that forward is key, this was the correction at my disposal. After he gave me a positive reaction – ie, forward – we went back to being peaceable.)

PS – can we talk about how the cat amongst the stuff and the deer mere feet away are totally ok- but the POLES are scary?!

Anyways. It’s a work in progress. Despite getting a decent spook on the initial approach, the rest of our work over sticks ends up getting easier and easier. My goal is to get him over them roughly once a week if at all possible.

I’m therefore looking for more interesting pole set ups- right now I end up just setting them up in fairly random groups throughout the arena. Anyone have anything fun that would create more positive experiences for a certain Yellow Scaredy Cat?

6 thoughts on “Poles Poles Poles

    • Ohhh thanks! Will take a look!
      On my full-pole days I’m moving 9-12 poles around, after that either I ran out of poles or my givadamn was up!

  1. There are several groups on Facebook that are dedicated to pole work. They have some really great ideas for set up and exercises.

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