Exercise 2 – Oh Poley God!

Wow, what a reaction to our last exercise, thank you to everyone who liked & shared it. I have upped my game since & I can safely say I am happy to deliver a fabulous new grid/pole exercise for you all.

I have incorporated a mixture of everything, from pole work to some jumping in this exercise you are sure to be challenged, yet I hope you walk away feeling accomplished just like I did!

It looks a lot harder than it actually is, so dont be alarmed. It is suitable for the beginner as much as the more experienced horse.

Keep scrolling to find out how to set up & ride this exercise! 

The Set Up

For this exercise you will need your entire arena. 9 poles are needed, two set of cavalettis or two sets of small blocks to raise your poles & a set of wings to put up your jump.

See the image below. I have highlighted the ground poles in Red, the raised poles in purple & the pole where your jump is has been coloured blue.

The distance between the grids is as follows,

1 stride 6 large footsteps (1 for landing and one for take off then four large steps totalling 6 to make your one stride distance)

2 stride 10 large footsteps (1 for landing and one for take off then eight large steps totalling 10 to make your two stride distance)

The strides can be adjusted through out the exercise to best shit your horse. These suited Dante but I would recommend having someone on the ground to help assist with adjustments.

The Benefits Of This Exercise

  • Improve your approach to a fence, improving your eye for a stride
  • Focus on your position over fences & through a small grid 
  • Riding your corners
  • Consistant rhythm in the canter
  • Control & sharpening up your leg aids

How To Ride This Exercise

Step 1: As always, I advise that you do a good warm up with your horse prior to partaking in any of our exercises. For this exercise I put the focus on having a forward active canter in my warm up. Pushing him forward & holding on the long & short sides of my arena trying to focus on using my seat & leg aids. Once you are happy with how your horse is feeling follow the steps below to get the most out of our “Oh Poley God” exercise.

Step 2: let’s Start with the small jump across the diagonal. Pick up your canter & begin with riding your horse across the small jump Positioned as per the image. The point of placing the jump here was to help aid Dante with a leg change across his diagonal as well As help me to gain a bit more control. You might have noticed the two ground poles tunnelled in front of the jump. This was to help keep Dante straight & to stop him drifting either side on his approach to the fence. Focus on Riding across the diagonal until you are happy with your approach & your landing. Think about keeping your upper body still & remember think to use your legs & seat over being fussy with your hands!

Step 3: It’s time to begin with The grid. Don’t be afraid of the thought of it, Think of it as a set of four canter poles. To begin with, I had the jump part of the grid as a ground pole. Approach your grid in canter, aiming to keeping a controlled & even rhythm. Don’t worry about not hitting the correct strides at first, your horse may take one or two goes to “find their feet” or to figure out what it is exactly they are doing! keep your leg on & maintain a steady hold of your contact into the first pole,

Step 3, 4 & 5 – The Grid

Step 4: Ride through the grid a few times, keep in mind though that you may not approach certain poles correctly but that is ok. Your horse will learn to adjust as he moves through it. Be sure to help your horse by sitting up tall, keeping your leg on & looking straight ahead of you while you ride through the grid. When you land after the the last pole dont come to a stop, keep your canter active & ride until you reach the long side of the arena.

Step 5: Now lets make things fun by adding in the jump in the middle of your grid. Again, this is not going to change anything in the way you ride down your grid. I kept the jump relatively small at 90cm, something that was big enough to get Dante to concentrate but small enough that it wouldn’t throw of my concentration. The key thing here is to sit up tall as you land after your fence, don’t forget about the two canter poles after your fence! Once you are happy with how your horse is working, it’s now time piece the entire oh Poley God exercise together.

Step 6: as you have already perfected the steps above, putting everything together will be easy. Start by riding down over your grid, but as you land you are continuing to ride across your diagonal over your small fence. Once you are happy with how your horse has ridden the entire exercise, remember to rewards & finish up! This is a very tiring exercise for your horse so do keep that in mind & try not to over work..


And there you have my Oh Poley God Exercise. This is a great one to do with a few friends in your riding school, or one to incorporate into riding lessons. You have a lot to work with whilst still riding away feeling accomplished!

If you are feeling brave or have a more experienced horse, you can of course make all the canter poles in your grid into fences. Remember nothing changes the way you ride them! 

Let me know how you ride this exercise & be sure to head over to Instagram to see how me & Dante got on! 

Darielle

June Jumping Exercise #2 – “The Mercedes”

For anyone who follows us on Instagram, you may have seen this picture a few weeks ago. Well I have finally gotten around to writing this post to explain what this exercise is all about so check it out…

WHAT IS THIS EXERCISE GOOD FOR?

  • Jump-off practice
  • Maintaining a rhythm
  • Practicing lead changes over fences
  • Having a bit of fun!

HOW TO SET IT UP

Depending on what selection of jumps you have you can set this exercise up using

  • 4 x jumping blocks OR 5 x wings
  • 6 x poles (you’d get away with 3 poles if you don’t use ground poles)

Start by laying out 3 poles as per the diagram, ensuring that they are equidistant from each other. Next place your blocks/wings at the end of each pole. When setting the height, I decided to keep them relatively small so we could focus on doing the exercise right.

HOW TO RIDE IT

Once your horse is warmed up on the flat, give them a quick pop over one of the jumps on each rein by itself to get their head in the jumping game. Once this is done, you can get started with the exercise…

To make it a bit easier to explain, I have numbered the jumps and added arrows to help you follow the diagrams.

Step 1: Starting on the right rein, ride a large circle by jumping from jump 1 to 3 to 2. Do this two or three times or until you feel that you’ve been able to achieve a steady and consistent rhythm between each fence. Ensure you give it a go on each rein before moving onto the next stage.

Step 1 – Ride a full circle over each jump

Step 2: Next, you can start changing direction over each fence. Starting on the right rein over fence 1 and changing direction to ride left over number 2 and changing again to rider right back over fence 1. This incorporates your change of rein while keeping the loops relatively big so you have time to prepare for the next fence.

Step 2 – Start changing direction

Step 3: Lastly, it’s time to put you and your horse to the test by putting it all together. Start off on the right rein over number 1, changing the rein to go left over number 3, staying left ride a turnback to number 2. Change to the right rein over number 2 and turnback to number 3. Land left and finish over number 1.

Step 3 – Put it all together

This isn’t an overly complicated exercise to do but it can take a few attempts to get yourself and your horse settled into the rhythm of it. Here are some things to remember as you ride it:

  • Know where you’re going after you land – some of these turns are tight so you need to give yourself and your horse time to prepare
  • Remember to look up and around at where you’re going
  • Your horse may lose its momentum on the turn so make sure not to let your canter die by riding your horse through the turn
  • Before starting the exercise make sure you have a good consistent canter and you maintain that rhythm throughout the exercise. If you start to rush, you’re guaranteed to run into trouble
  • Don’t just use your hands when turning – make sure to turn your entire body – head, shoulders & torso – giving back-up with your outside leg to bring your horse’s whole body around on the turn
  • Have fun!! This is actually super fun to play around with and try some different combination of turns. It can really bring the fun back to jumping if you find your training is always quite serious.

Check out the video below of me and Coco giving a few different layouts a go! Coco was seriously enjoying herself with this exercise. By the end she really got into the swing of it and found her rhythm!

‘The Mercedes’

I hope you guys give this one a go and have some fun! If you do, make sure to tag us in your videos so we can see how you got on 😀

As always, thanks for reading,

Orla


June Jumping Exercise – The Saucy Snake

Keeping things interesting, we pieced together this saucy little exercise! Incorporating some jumping while still keeping it quite technical. It gave both horse & rider some great results.

With the riding festival coming up this weekend, this is a great exercise to brush up on your tight turns, approach to fences and landing on the correct lead. Coco managed it tremendously well & well Dante ended up in abandonment after a fight broke loose!

Keep reading to find out what This “Saucy Snake” is all about!! 

The Set Up

You will need an arena or an open field to begin with, for set up you will need 4 sets of wings, 4 sets of cups & 11 poles. For the set up we kept all fences small, all standing at approx 50cm.  

The distance between the jump & the poles were measured with 10 generous footsteps either side. No striding was measured between the last two jumps. This is where your eye for a stride comes in to play!

 See below the diagram for how your arena should look. Be sure to clear out everything else in the arena as you will need all the space you can get especially if you have a bigger horse! 

What is The Exercise Good For? 

  • Letting your horse figure out the approach to a fence
  • Position over a fence
  • Maintaining a rhythm & keeping it consistant
  • Great practice for tight turns

Step By Step Guide On How To Ride This Exercise

1. As always, begin this exercise with a good warm up for your horse. Focus mainly on the canter, keeping it alive, active & bouncy. Once you are happy with your horse, that they are responding well to your aids then can you begin to piece together the Saucy Snake! 

2. Not to overwhelm yourself, or your horse, start this exercises by doing everything section by section. Starting with the image below, do this off either rein until you are happy that your horse is approaching the fence correctly & landing afterwards at ease, staying relaxed in the canter. 

3. Keep the jumps small, the aim of this exercises is to ride each part as if they are ground poles or canter poles. Your position over the small fence in the middle does not need to be dramatic, focus more on keeping a consistant contact the whole way through.

4. Once you feel comfortable with your horse’s approach, begin to piece more of The Saucy Snake together. Starting on a bend & moving over your diagonal, we found that this proved to be the most tricky line throughout the exercise. Riding Across the diagonal gives your horse more space to run, so sitting back and keeping your leg on, your horse held together & balanced is vital. Also looking up & around your arena. Looking down at the poles will not only cause your horse to run into them, but it will throw your horse off balance with you looking down over their shoulder!

5. Finally piecing the entire exercise together, the main focus is your canter, you need to keep it actively moving forward, energy behind but controlled (we don’t ask for much!) Begin the exercises as per the image below, starting at your curve, moving down the diagonal & then curving to the right finishing over your vertical on the long side. Sitting up & looking to where you are going is very important. Remember once you reach that first ground pole, your job as the rider is done until you reach the first stride when you land after the second ground pole.

6. Try to focus on using your body to direct your horse, with the aid of your legs, keep your hands quiet throughout the exercise. Remembering to look up look up look up!!! Opening your shoulders around the corners in the direction you are turning your horse also really helps.


This exercise proved to be quite difficult for Dante. I have managed to create a fear of turning right, when it comes to jumping & landing to the right, it is something I am working on, but Dante, being Dante takes every chance he can to gain that control. We didn’t manage to finish this exercise fully, due to his bad behaviour but Coco aced it. 

This exercise is definitely one I will be incorporating into my weekly routine, it really opens your eyes to the way you use your body around the course, and the control you really need in between fences!

Head over to our Instagram page to check out a video of coco smashing this exercise!

Let us know how you get on with this exercise, leave your thought & comments below & be sure to tag us in any videos of you giving it a test drive! 

Until next time, 

Darielle 

April Jumping Exercise – Bounce It Bitch

Our Exercises are back!!

Our ever so popular exercises are making a comeback. What better way to jump back into the thriving summer season. First up is one of my all time favorites, Who doesn’t love a good pole jumping exercise, especially when it comes with so many good benefits.

One that can definitely be added to the training schedule. Scroll down to find out what to do & how to ride it.

The Set Up

You will need an arena, or a field. You will also need 2 sets of wings with an additional 7 ground poles.

As you will be riding this exercise in canter, you will need 3.5 large steps between the ground poles that are placed between your two fences. These measurements are made for Dante he is a large horse so if you are riding a pony they may need to be adjusted to 3 footsteps.

As per the image below, Set up two Vertical jumps either end of the exercise, these are marked with a blue X in the images below! I kept these jumps small enough, with the max height being 90cm.

See image below for arena set up!

What Is This Exercise Good For?

  • Helps with a Horse That rushes through combinations
  • Better Compulsion in The Canter
  • Getting your Horse To Listen & Pay Attention to you
  • Improves your eye for a stride
  • Builds Muscle on The Hind End

Step By Step Guide On How To Ride This Exercise

  1. Begin by warming your horse up as you normally would for any jumping exercise. I always focus on transition work with Dante. This gets Dante really listening to me & my leg aids. Once I have him listening I focus on pushing him forward & collecting him back in the canter on each rein. This really helps when it comes to pushing him for the stride that is needed or holding him back when riding certain jumping exercises.
  2. Start by Warming up firstly over a Cross pole or a small vertical seperate to this exercise. You dont want to overwhelm your horse by jumping straight into an exercise like this! When you are happy with how your horse is jumping, then you may begin.
  3. Approach the beginning of the exercise in a collected canter, you want to have a good bit of energy in the canter on your approach. Keeping a tight contact, be sure to always look up & down towards the end of the exercise. Never look down at the poles!
  4. If your horse has not done an exercise like this before, be prepared for them to look at the poles as they jump through, some may over exaggerate and leap over the poles, so be sure to sit up so that you can keep yourself centered and balance through the poles.
  5. The most important thing to take into consideration while riding this exercise is the landing after your first fence. You really need to sit back up as tall as you can straight away, wrapping your legs around your horse, this will help your horse stay balanced, as well as keeping your horse straight as you ride to the last fence.
  6. Repeat this exercise until you are happy with your horses approach to the first & last fence, you are looking for the same consistant pace in the canter. Your horse has to use a lot of muscle to lift in front over the poles you will also begin to see a massive improvement with their lift over fences, giving you a well rounded jump.

Try not to go overboard with the height of the fences with this exercise. The exercise is focused mainly on your horses canter & consistant rhythm through the exercise. Fences that are too high may also have a strain on your horses muscles. especially if they are not used working

If you find your horse is rushing in to this exercise put a canter pole before the exercise, likewise if they are rushing afterwards.

If you & your horse have aced this exercise, try giving it a go without the ground poles in between, this will really test out you & your horse and let you know if they really learned what you were trying to teach them!

Let me know how you get on, and be sure to tag us in any videos of you attempting this exercise! Have a look at our Instagram to Check out Dante’s attempts! And remember, always reward your horse if they do something correctly!

As always, Thanks for reading,

Darielle

January Ultimate Exercise – “The Curve Ball”

Welcome to our Last exercise of the month, how time flew!! From the reaction from all you guys loving & sharing our exercises over the last 3 weeks, I feel like it would be quite rude not to keep carrying them out into February… What do you guys think?

This week was a difficult one, I had an exercise all set up to go & well it failed miserably! Dante couldn’t get the hang of it & well to be honest I lost the plot & gave up. This is ok. Sometimes I find myself maybe pushing Dante & myself too far with some exercises, so I took a step back & evaluated the situation.

Which brought me to this weeks actual exercise, and YES it is all about jumping!! How many of your faces have lit up reading that? Of course, I have tried to use what we have been doing in previous exercises and tied it into this one, keep scrolling to see what I have in store!

What You Will Need?

You will need an arena, or a field as always. There is a bit more set up this week, which will require you to have 3 x sets of wings & 9 poles.

Alternatively, if you dont have wings, blocks or barrels can be used in place to create your jumps! I kept the height to 80/90cm, with the fence in the centre at 90/1m. Adjust these to best suit your horse & their ability. Keeping in mind that they don’t need to be big fences.

I have the set up in the diagram below. For each fence, I have put a ground pole on either side. This will allow me to approach the fences from both directions.

The Curve Ball Exercise

What Is this Exercise Good For?

  • Maintaining a collected canter
  • Balance
  • Perfecting tricky lines into fences
  • Flexing your horse around your leg

How To Ride This Exercise?

  • This exercise was one of my favourites. When I got to the end & managed to get the hang of it, I could easily of spend hours perfecting this exercise.
  • Begin by warming your horse up as usual. This week for my warm up, I focused more on holding Dante together on the short side for a collected trot & pushing him out for an extended trot on the long side, the same in the canter (this proved quite difficult & needs some work!)
  • I also began to incorporate, 15m circles in canter, encouraging Dante to hold himself together better in smaller spaces. Once you begin this exercise, having a collected bouncy canter will be what you aim for, giving you more control on your approach and as you land around the bends.
  • Once you are satisfied with your warm up, begin by jumping each jump section by section. See Diagrams below.
  • When you are happy with how your horse is approaching both fences, making sure there is no rushing after or towards the fence, you can then begin to piece this “curve ball” together.
  • Try to keep your bends as smooth as you can, & remember to use as much of the arena as you wish to give your horse more space.
  • On my approach to the first fence, you may have noticed from the video our Instagram, that I didn’t approach either fence bang on centre. If I was to do this my curve to the second fence would be rather sharp, so try approaching your fence at an angle, this will help set you up nicely for your second fence. See Diagram below.
Piece part 1 & 2 together to create your “Curve Ball”
  • Once you are happy with how your horse is jumping over the two angled fences, then you can add in the last section of the exercise.
  • This is where your practice of your 15m canter circles comes into play. Landing after your second fence, you are aiming to land, circling into your fence down your centre line. As you approach your fence, aim to keep your horse collected & balanced in the canter. See Diagram Below for Final Layout
Piece the entire exercise together
  • Dante found this quite challenging as he got himself used to bending and flowing through his corners in the canter, to then having to hold himself together on the straight, a lot of leg was needed to keep his canter flowing & from stopping him from breaking.
  • Again, once you have jumped this exercise off both reins, & are happy with your finish, finish up on that good note. Don’t over do it if your horse is finding the bends difficult, I know Dante found it harder on one rein over the other!

And there you have it, our final January “Ultimate Exercise!”. I wont lie to you all, finishing with a jumping exercise was ideal, this is where I excel most, and well who doesn’t love a good jump!

I have been pleasantly surprised with Dante’s progress over these last few weeks with the exercises. I think it is something I may continue to do, not only for you guys, but for myself also, each week it gave me something to focus on, picking aspects of my training to focus on and perfect. Dante has slowly began to perfect his flying changes, the focus point of most of our exercises, which has helped us massively with jumping a course of fences!

What was your favourite exercise of the series? And what would you like to see us tackle next? I wreakon a few of you are wondering what the original exercise I scrapped at the beginning was to?!

Keep your eyes peeled for more!

Until Next Time,

Darielle

October Monthly Exercise – The Figure of 8

Its time again for our monthly exercise and this is one we were really looking forward to trying. When the day finally came where we had the arena to ourselves the horses were feeling less than cooperative. It was a dark evening and both horses were grumpy and just not in the mood to listen so it made for an interesting time (and some videos). But we persevered and got through in the end!

What is this Exercise good for?

  • Setting a pace
  • Creating Suppleness
  • Maintaining balance

October-Monthly-Exercise
How to Set it Up

This exercise uses two oxers, a cavaletti and 5 uneven raised canter poles. Depending on the size of your arena you may, like us, decide to just use 3 raised canter poles. We set ours up with 3 and a half steps between each. 

How to Ride it

  1. Pick up a canter, making sure you maintain a nice steady rhythm and start your 20m circle at X. 
  2. Ride from X to your raised canter poles. These are placed on a bend so make sure to look for your horse to bend through their body and up through their neck. As you finish the poles look for your turn to the oxer.
  3. Ride straight to your oxer and make sure to keep balanced as you land so you can be ready for the turn to the cavaletti.
  4. The cavaletti should be ridden as if its sitting on a circle so don’t ride it straight. Your horse should show some bend over this. 
  5. Finish your figure of 8 over the final oxer which sits just a few strides off the fence of the arena. This one comes up quite quickly so you need to make sure you use the full figure of 8 to make the most of the space you have to really prepare your approach to this fence.

What’s great about this exercise is that it isn’t very complicated, but it still gives you and your horse a lot to think about as you ride it. Each of the varying elements in the exercise offer their own challenge so different horses will find different aspects difficult. The main thing is to just take your time and if needs be take on one part at a time until you feel confident enough to put it all together. God knows we struggled on certain parts!

Hope you guys enjoy giving this one a go! Be sure to tag us in any videos so we can see how you got on with it!

Thanks for reading,

Orla & Darielle