Flatwork With Poles Clinic

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Flatwork With Poles

Today was our first Flatwork with Poles clinic for 2013.

It was a very wet, soggy and cold afternoon, however, after some praying to the rain gods to hold off for a while, we managed to get by on some “less heavy” rain, thankfully as we were in monsoon like conditions just before and following the clinic!

We had a full class of riders and I was very pleased to see everyone arrive, considering the conditions!

It was nice to see a cross section of horses and riders, ranging from the new forest ponies to ex racers, riders currently doing dressage and those new to it.

The idea of today was to improve the way of going and find ways through the use of poles, to add variety to the usual schooling work.

We began with everyone riding as a group, assessing their position, as this is usually the first thing to work on. 

Following that, we worked with transitions, basic walk – halt – walk – halt, aiming for at least 10 transitions within a 20mtr circle. This was the first turning point for most of the horses and riders, as when I asked the question, “how many transitions do you ride during your schooling sessions?” the average response was 35 in approx. 1 hour.

Bearing this in mind, I then sent the riders out to work individually aiming to get as many transitions as possible in to a 5 minute time frame. Watching the riders carry out this exercise was interesting, the horses began to listen, switch on, lift and become more in front of the leg, and all they did was simple transitions!

After this we moved onto squares, aiming to encourage the riders to ride more from the outside aids, this again proved successful as the horses were much straighter and began to use their hind legs in a more engaged manner.

From here we moved onto shortening and lengthening the stride. For this exercise we had 3 poles set close together on the short side of the school, then a corner onto 3 more poles which were at a longer distance on the long side.

This began to get the rider thinking as well as the horse as the rider had to organise themselves in time to set the horse up for the shorter steps then into the corner, then out onto a lengthened stride, it took some a little longer than others to get the correct approach, but once organised, everyone again improved further.

We then introduced a triangle, a more acute version of the square, this was added after the poles at the end of the long side, to gather the horse together again, after everyone had ridden these exercises a few times, I asked them to ride the pole line again but to finish riding a square in canter, this proved difficult for the stiffer ones, but once understood, the horses were trying hard, as were the riders!


There are so many pole exercises available, the ones noted here are the ones I specifically chose for the cross section of horses who were present today.

I would like to say a big thank you to Gaston’s Farm, Nether Wallop for the arena, and to everyone who came today. Well done!



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