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.)
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?