Poles can help improving your horse’s way of going on the flat and over fences, says HORSE magazine

Poles for polework should be brightly coloured so they can be clearly seen, and solid enough for the horse to respect them. Light plastic poles are easily kicked out of position and are more suited for jumping than pole work.

While working over poles the horse should remain calm and relaxed, with a consistent and purposeful stride. Concentrate on maintaining rhythm, balance and an even stride.

A line of poles can be set out 1.2m-1.5m (4-5ft) apart, depending on the horse’s stride. Use a minimum of three and a maximum of eight poles in a line for best results. Never use just two poles as the horse may jump them.

The horse can be made to work harder by raising one or both ends of the pole with blocks. This encourages the horse to flex its joints more and become more flexible. This work is very tiring, especially for stiff horse and should not be overused.

Whatever pace you are working in over the poles remember to change the rein frequently to work both sides of the horse evenly. Pole work can be very tiring for the horse so include frequent breaks on a long rein to allow the horse to stretch and relax.

See the November issue of HORSE magazine for a range of pole exercises designed to improve your horse’s way of going, or click here to subscribe.

HORSE magazine’s December issue will include pole exercises designed to slow horses that rush their fences.