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

August Exercise – Attack Those Poles

It is safe to say that it has been quite some time since we posted an exercise for you guys to try out! With a lot of focus recently being put on our jumping, we have finally taken some time out to focus more on our pole work. This is mainly to focus on growing that hind end even more, and if you keep on reading transition work is still playing a huge part in our training schedule.

Keep scrolling to find out all about our “Attack Those Poles” exercise.

What Will you Need

To start you will like always need a fully cleared arena, or space in your field. You will need, 13 poles in total, then depending on if you wish to raise the poles, you will need cavalettis or as you can see from my picture I used potties to give them a slight raise!

For Dante I always do 4 & a half steps between regular trot poles, with 5 footsteps in between any raised poles. In between the split up trotting poles I walked out 13 and a half footsteps.

(This gave Dante 2 trot strides in between each set of trot poles)

As per the image below you will see how your arena should look when you are finished setting up.

What This Exercise Is Good For

  • Maintaining a Steady Rhythm
  • Perfecting upward & Downward transitions
  • Rider composure
  • Straightness
  • Building Your Horses Hind

Guide On How To Ride This Exercise

  • As always we recommend a good warm up for your horse prior to partaking in any of our exercises. This exercises has a lot of transition work involved, with a great mixture of Trotting & cantering.
  • I would recommend focusing on your 20metre circles, upward & downward transitions from trot to canter and again from canter to trot, you really want your horse moving from you leg, this will help set you & your horse up nicely before tackling this exercise.
  • To begin, start by tackling the exercise in sections. Start of with the diagram below, keep all your poles flat (not raised) so as to give your horse a chance to get properly acquainted with the poles. Don’t forget that if your horse is not used to this much pole work their muscles will fatigue a lot quicker.
  • Going diagonal to diagonal, go over the line of trot pole twice to three times on each rein. Remember you are focusing on keeping your horse straight, aiming for the centre of each trot pole, keeping your upper body still & hands quiet as you ride through. Your legs should be used to keep your horse moving forward and also used to stop your horse from drifting to the right or left of the center of the poles. Once you are happy with this you can then move on to the next stage.
  • It is now time to start thinking about your canter. You will see two canter poles placed across the opposite diagonal to your trot poles. Start by going through them once or twice of each rein to get the feel for the striding, I have walked out 2 strides in between each pole. You will also see that you have to canter between your two trot poles. This will help keep your horse straight and avoid them from drifting.
  • When you are happy with how your horse is working in the canter, then can you move to piecing the entire exercise together. See the image below.
  • Start by trotting over your poles, again, at this stage you can keep them all flat or you can begin to raise them depending on the horse. Once you are over your poles, at the Marked X on the diagram above, you then must transition into canter, cantering around to your canter poles across the diagonal. Keeping a smooth consistant canter here is key.
  • Once over the canter poles, when you reach your corner focus on transitioning down to trot. Again try to keep it as smooth as possible, not to interfere too much.
  • When you are happy with all of the above, you can then piece the entire exercise together. The flow is basically Trot poles, Canter, Canter Poles, Trot, Trot poles. It is all about the consistency in your rhythm whilst there are obstacles in the way, this should not effect the way you ride. See the image below as to how it should ride with the X’s marked as your points of transition.

I will advise, that this is quite a heavy exercise if you are doing it on a horse that is not used to such variety. I would recommend doing this exercise over 2 days as not to fatigue your horse. And trust me, Day 1 can be sloppy! It really opens your eyes to how much you move & adjust your body once you see an obstacle in the way when really you shouldn’t change anything at all.

Give it a go, & tag us in any videos that you take so I can see how you get on! I love watching everyone’s progress.

As always, thank you for reading, if you have any questions on this exercise be sure to drop us a DM!

Darielle

May Flatwork Exercise – Pain in the Pole!

This exercise was quite deceiving, going to ride this exercise, myself & Orla were slightly cocky in a sense that we thought it was going to be a simple flatwork exercise, well it couldn’t of challenged us more … 

This Incognito evil pole exercise tests you, your patience & your horses suppleness! Be aware, it really will pin point areas of your riding that you need to work on. 

Keep scrolling to find out more… 

The Set Up

You will need to clear up your arena for this one, as you will need all the space you can get. You will need 11 poles for your set up, with 3 x Cavalettis, or blocks to raise your poles. 
Between each trot pole there are 4 & a half footsteps.

As you will be placing some poles diagonally, make sure to measure your footsteps in the center. This will not only mentally force you to ride straight but help to get the correct trot striding.

Between the cavalettis, measure out 5 footsteps as your horse will need a little more space to stretch and lift over the poles. See this image below for your set up.

What This Exercise is Good For? 

  • Engaging the hind
  • How important your body position is whilst riding 
  • Getting your horse to listen to you 
  • Improves your horses suppleness

Step by Step Guide on How To Ride This Exercise

1. As always we recommend a good warm up for your horse prior to partaking in any of our exercises. This exercises is based solely on trotting but you should not neglect any canter work that you usually do in your warm up.

2.Our focus before we began this exercises was mainly to establish a forward moving trot, a horse moving into our hands from our leg & seat. Practicing 10 metre circles into 20 metre circles helped to loosen out the horses as this exercise does involve some tight turns once you get into it.

3.Once you are happy with your horses warm up & reactions to your leg, you can then begin on the “easy” parts of this exercise. Start by ignoring the cavalettis section of the exercise focusing on the trot poles, put your horse over these a few times off each rein. Remembering to look to where you are going and not at the ground at the poles. Your aim is to piece both sets of trot poles together as per the image below on the left.

4.Once you are happy with your horses approach over the two sets of trot poles, then you can begin adding in some tighter turns as per the image on the right above. this is where your body comes into play & your inside leg. Sitting up tall around the corners, using your shoulder to half halt, with your inside leg directing your horse . Once you cross the centre both legs are on to keep your horse straight until you reach the set of trot poles. This took some time & practice, but once you perfect the turns, you will find this exercise to run a lot smoother. When you are happy with the turns around the cavalettis, then you can you progress to piecing the entire exercise together.

5. See the image below. Now it’s time to add the cavalletti poles to the equation! This is were we ran into a few technical difficulties, but practice certainly makes perfect. Practice the cavalettis by themselves first if you wish to get a better feel for them before you put all 3 sets of trot poles together. The secret is to keep your horse straight on approach bending them around your leg as you move over the poles. Let your horse stretch down over the poles, dont be afraid to give them their head. I found that after the last pole they ran into their trot, prepare for this by sitting back in your saddle with your leg on, this will help to keep your horse held together.

6. Your really working your horses muscles with the tight turns and the trot poles, we would advise not to over do this exercise. Once your horses completes it to your satisfaction, reward & end your session. Always be sure to cool your horse off afterwards, by giving them a long rein to stretch in the walk.


This exercise was a real eye opener to how much more pole work we should be doing! The hind end really gets put to the test especially with the surprise cavaletti’s in the mix!

I think between Dante & Coco, they both managed it considerably well, with both of us finishing with great results. We did both come to the conclusion that more raised trot poles are needed, especially on a bend!! Head over to our Instagram page to check out the video of both horses giving it a go.

Be sure to try it out, & let us know how you get on by tagging us in your videos!

As always, thanks for reading & be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our May Jumping exercise “The Saucy Snake”!

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

February Exercise #1 – “The Straight & Narrow!”

We just can’t get enough exercises around here!!! With the great success of our January Ultimate Exercise Series, we thought why not try to carry through these exercises over the next few months? They may not be as frequent like our weekly exercises, but we will try our best!

This week or should I say the last two weeks with Dante I have been working on a lot of straightness training. I thought who best to share this exercise with than with you all. It is extremely easy to set up, and once you get it right it is so rewarding!

What Will You Need?

For this exercise, as always you will need an arena, if you don’t have an arena and you use your field, you can use the edge of your field for this set up.

6-8 poles are needed, depending on the length of your arena, when placing your pole, lay it down (from the edge of your arena) one & 1/2 large footsteps in off the track.

See the Image below for the set up!

Your Setup

What This Exercise Is Good For?

  • Straightness
  • Foundations of Leg Yielding
  • Getting your horse to listen

How To Ride This Exercise?

This exercise is really quite straight forward, it in my opinion is a basic foundation for your lateral work. The poles in the side of the arena play a massive support for your horse and work as a great training aid. Follow the 5 easy steps to see some great results, I would recommend doing this every 2nd or 3rd day, as to minimize frustration in your horse if they are struggling to understand your aids. But keep on top of them, keep doing it and the penny will eventually drop!

  • When you are trotting down the long sides of the arena, (were the X’s are marked) the poles are in place to aid your horse with keeping straight. See Image Below
  • You should be aiming to get their head flexing to the inside, with their hind staying straight on the outside track.
  • Apply pressure with your inside leg to straighten your horse’s hind end onto the track. While doing this, encourage your horse to flex it’s heads to the inside using light give and take motions with your inside rein. Your outside rein should be used to support your horse and keep him balanced, so keeping a consistent contact on this rein is vital.This does take some practice! Continue to ask your horse these movements on the long sides of your arena, on the shorter sides keep the contact, ride them forward but give them that short break.
  • Continue to ask your horse these movements on the long sides of your arena, on the shorter sides keep the contact, ride them forward but give them that short break from all the asking.
  • If needed, use a schooling whip as a back up to your leg with light flickers. Make sure to also release the pressure so your horse understands what it is you are asking.
  • And remember to always reward your horse if they do correctly. Be sure to complete this exercise on both reins, You will find one rein is always better than the other!

And there you have it! This exercise I found extremely rewarding for horse & rider. It is a great foundation exercise for any lateral work you do with your horse, Dante can almost leg yield on one rein now, Small achievements!!

I also found Dante to be super responsive to my leg aids afterwards, when I went to push him out on a 20m circle he would shoot across from my leg!

An exercise I would highly recommend!

Until Next Time,

Darielle

September Monthly Exercise – Pole To Pole

I can’t quite get my head around it being the end of September already, doing our August weekly exercises just seemed to make the month fly by even quicker!

This month, we decided to focus more on some flat work exercises, I came across this exercises over on our Pinterest account, and it is safe to say I loved it.  Have a read below, and be sure to give it a go!

It is definitely one that will be a staple in my winter workouts!

The Set Up: 

You will need 7 ground poles & an arena (obviously!!) If you dont have an arena you can set this exercise up your field.

Measuring out your trot poles, I worked from 4 & a half footsteps between each pole, (follow the arrows in the picture for your layout) when I measured all the trot poles out,  it pretty much took into account for my canter pole layout, so no additional adjustments were needed!

See below image for your set up.

Pole To Pole set up-page-001

What this exercise helps your horse with

  • Straightness
  • Control
  • Approach
  • Balance

How To Ride The Exercise:

This is quite the versatile exercise. It can be used for walk, trot, canter, transition work, you name it you can do it. The layout gives you so much variety & options to work with. Below I have outlined my go to routines, one in trot & one in canter.

Trot – The exercise itself is quite self explanatory, see the image to the right. If you wish to start off introducing the pole exercises to your horse in walk do so, but after my warmPole To Pole trot-page-001 up I jumped straight into it (not literally!!)  Start by  following the direction of the arrows in the image in trot before working on your diagonal poles. Do this off each rein until your horse is comfortable with his/ her approach.

Approaching the trot poles can be quite intimidating at first as they are quite skinny, but if you have a firm hold with strong leg this will stop your horse from drifting from left – right. Looking up where your going will help with this also, Don’t look down at the poles!! 

Canter – Likewise in the Canter, until you are happy with your trot work, then only begin with your canter. See the image to the side for your layout. Using the outside poles to begin with, your horse Pole To Pole canter-page-001should bounce over these in the canter. I started of by cantering over these in a straight line, then I started incorporating a circle in around the two poles.

Once you are happy with this of both reins, then you can attempt the canter poles down the center line. Dante found this slightly overwhelming at first. To your horse it may look like there are loads of poles scattered on approach which in turn will helped him learn the placement of his feet & help him with his straightness but on your approach sit up tall, keep your leg firm & look to where you want to go.

The Verdict

After doing this exercise on both reins, I done in 2- 3 times on each rein, in both trot and canter. I always tried to finish after the 3rd or 4th attempt if it was good!

Warning: Over doing this exercise can be draining not only on yourself but on your horse, the lack of concentration goes after a while and your horse will start to anticipate the exercise. 

So give it a go, start of your Monday with this simple yet effective exercise!

And don’t forget to tag us in your Instagram posts so we can see how you get on.

Thanks for reading,

Darielle