I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to exercise/take care of a lady’s horses for a week or so.Obviously I will not be jumping, but hoping to squeeze in maybe some over poles exercises to get my eye back into shape when I start jumping again (I’ve been away at school) and to overall practice my jumping position after not jumping for many months. So in regards to that what are some of your favorite flat exercises/pole exercises to do/any recommendations to help regain and remind my muscles on their proper functions!
Most of the places I have boarded there were insurance policies which made it so people couldn’t jump without a trainer present.
So I used to just set up a course of some single poles on the ground and practice cantering over them to work on maintaining rhythm, seeing the distance (don’t let horsie “split” the rail in the middle of a canter stride or take off too late/too early), and not get excited about the “jumps”. Or if there was already a course set up, just put all the poles on the ground and proceed from there. I also like working on a circle at the trot or canter (at least 20 meters), either with 1 pole, 2 poles, or 4 poles. You can work on lengthening or shortening stride and getting a good rhythm/hitting the center of the poles. I’m not too creative
But it depends on what you want to work on, and I’m not sure what level you are at. I find that cantering poles helps me most with rhythm while trotting poles help with 2-point balance. For trot poles, I think 3-4 poles are most effective to get the horse paying attention to his feet, and for you to get that bouncy feel in 2-point. You can also put multiple poles on the bend of a circle. Just don’t overdo it going over poles. To give your horse a break you could also work on your 2-point by being in it at the walk, trot, canter, hand gallop, or working without stirrups. Also by alternating sitting and 2-point position every 4 strides or something.
The key to using ground poles is to treat them like you might a jump. Don’t let your horse wriggle around or “jump” off center just because he can and there aren’t as big of consequences (and it’s easy to drift to the side of poles when there are no standards). Make sure you’re looking where you want to go, etc.
You can also do serpentines and bending lines, and if you google ground pole exercises there are a lot of great diagrams for the more creative people out there!
One of my favorites is setting two poles in a line and seeing how many/few strides you can get between them. You can measure or not, depending on how precise you want to be. Or if you want to be really tricky set them on a half stride. It works wonders for adjustability on the flat and over fences, and helps re-develop your eye. Have fun!
We just had a lesson where we set up a square of 4 cavaletti (you could do it with poles too) and practiced figure 8s with one stride between each cavaletti and then bouncing the corners. It was great for lengthening and shortening because the one stride was collected and the bounce is flowing, and it really forced you to keep straight for the bounce or else you’d miss the second cavaletti.
So we started just going straight across one pair of cavaletti, then looping around and going across the other pair of cavaletti. And just alternate between each parallel pair. Then when you have that down, you can add in the diagonal bounces.
I put a little video clip of one of the juniors riding the exercise on our instragram if you want to see what it looks like. It doesn’t show the entire thing, just the transition from diagonal bounce to the one stride across the center. Link here.