Ground Pole Exercises For Horses

Ground poles are an invaluable conditioning exercise that creates balance and rhythm in your horse’s gaits, helping correct postural faults such as dysfunctional stifles. Furthermore, ground poles promote flexibility and forward energy – key qualities in an energetic horse!

Create a row of three or four poles. Make sure the middle two are equal in distance – approximately one stride apart – then ride in a perfect circle over them either trotting or cantering.

Double Triangle

This exercise is often employed when returning horses from periods of rest. It works to build muscle mass, increase range of motion in limbs and spine and generate energy for riding work. Furthermore, it allows horses to move off the ground freely without bearing weight of riders – ideal for both in-hand and ridden work!

An intricate fence poses a formidable challenge for riders as it may not always be clear when their horse should jump from its top or land on it. Due to its narrow width and its intricacies, horses may lose balance or fall through it at this obstacle. These types of challenges usually appear at higher levels of sport and test riders’ abilities to keep their mount straight between their hands.

Normandy banks are challenging obstacles for horses, requiring bold leaps over ditches and onto banks before leaping off of solid fences on top. Clearance requires one bold leap over each one before leaping off again quickly from another solid fence atop each obstacle.

A bounce fence can be found both on cross-country courses and grid-work tracks, where two obstacles are placed closely enough together so that horses cannot take full strides between them. A bounce teaches horses to fold their front end under and push off with their hind legs – an essential skill necessary for jumping higher obstacles.


After your horse has become familiar with trotting poles in line, add them to a figure-eight pattern to work on straightness before and after each pole. As soon as he or she becomes comfortable with this exercise, progress to two-loop serpentine patterns to continue practicing straightness and change of bend.

Start by placing three or four poles in a fan along the line of a 20-meter circle, with about one trot stride between each center pole. Before riding, walk between these poles on foot while making heel to toe steps for every step taken so that you can count how many steps it takes from one end of the figure-eight figure-eight to the other and use this information when setting out poles for future lessons with your horse.

To practice another type of figure, ground poles can also be used to form a clover-leaf pattern and ride circles over them. This helps foster bending as well as teach your horse how to take turns without jumping or rushing through each turn of the arena. Once your horse becomes more confident with this exercise, try changing up patterns such as raising poles to form cavaletti as you ride.

Fan Exercise

This straightforward exercise only requires ground poles and a jump block for optimal results. Arrange four to six poles into a fan shape with raised inside ends approximately one foot apart and wider outer ends four-and-a-half feet apart, trotting over each of these fan ends at trot, asking your horse to take small steps between each pole fan, encouraging good bend around corners while helping him maintain balance across it without falling in. Ask him to step slightly between each one so he thinks ahead about how best he can use his body in order to move over each one without falling through and into one or more.

Create straight trot lines over diagonal poles – each line should consist of two poles inside one another – which will develop your horse’s ability to shorten and lift his stride between poles for jumping purposes, and also encourage him to think ahead about where his foot will land – an essential skill when cantering accurately.

Increase the difficulty of this exercise by raising some poles inside or outside or at either end, making it harder to pass over them. You could even progress this to cantering; just ensure your horse has already done plenty of trot pole work beforehand as this requires additional speed and focus.

Circle Exercise

The Circle Exercise is an effective way to develop suppleness and bend in horses by placing poles in a circle. You and your horse will learn to ride this circular exercise together while maintaining a steady rhythm and keeping balance with all aids, and staying in contact with both reins without bulging out or falling in, while keeping soft elbows. To make the circle easier for your horse start out with small diameter and gradually increase it gradually until reaching full circle distance. When riding it try planning out rollback turns before reaching each pole so as not to fall into or out of it altogether!

To perform this exercise, place poles in a fan formation in your arena with raised ends that protrude 1 to 2 feet off of the ground. Ride across this fan in trot before progressing to riding an individual pole that sticks up from a circle canter. When comfortable with this setup, add more poles and different angles to further challenge your horse; more diversity means faster thinking and greater stride elevation for both horse and rider!

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