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!


January Monthly Exercise – The Square

This months exercise with Dante has to be one of my favourites, Introducing The Square”. A good while ago Orla tested this exercise out on Coco & it worked a treat, so I thought why not give it a shot and see how Dante takes it. Not only is this exercise extremely easy to set up, but it was so beneficial in helping him start to bend and flex in around my leg, the square” can be used to cover so many simple basic movements.


 The Set Up:

 You will need quite simply 4 poles, laid out on the ground in your arena, seen in the pictures below. Make sure that you leave a good bit of space to move in and around your square! Ideally it should be set up in the middle of the arena giving you space to work with.

What Exercises Can be Done:

  • Trot Work
  • Canter Work
  • Transitions
  • Working on Bending & Flexibility
  • Leg Changes

Trot Work: The Square is great for establishing a great rhythm in your trot, from big / small horses, getting a consistent pace in between the poles is what you should be aiming for. Riding loops and circles, extending them out big & in small which is great for working & building up their top-line muscles. Keeping everything smoothly flowing  and collected is the aim. 

Transitions: Riding the square with transitions almost became a game towards the end! It can be slightly intimidating as bring your horse to a complete stop in the middle of the square can be quite challenging! Bearing in mind you only have a short amount of space to bring your horse down a transition! I find it great when going from trot to halt, the poles are quite a good guideline for your horse, that when you start to work on transitions out of the square they become very precise & clean! 

Canter Work: Getting your horse not to rush over canter poles or even a single canter pole can be a nightmare, It was for me at the beginning trust me! I have found using the square exercise extremely helpful, and it has slowly started to translate up into Dante’s Jumping too! Cantering over the square at a curve & not hitting it straight on worked best for me to begin with, riding 20 meter circles through the square. Not only did it begin to calm his canter down, but it helped shorten his massive long stride! 

Leg Changes: Continuing on from your canter work, using your square as a starter for teaching your horse leg changes is fantastic! Third time in & Dante had it down to a tee, the aim is to give your aids in the middle of the square, with the poles on either side helping them as they have to jump in and out of them.

Bending & Flexability: I wont give much of a description here, as all the above exercises include bending & circling you horse which in turn will help with your horses flexability. 

See the 4 Diagrams below for exercises to try out! 


To make this exercise a little harder,  if you have seen from my attached photo’s, you will have noticed that I have added in a second square next to the original for the likes of transitions so he can’t anticipate the exercises, you can add in as many as you wish, I have started to use them for bounces also, he is a lot calmer on his approach to the poles now, Dante used to get overly excited when he seen a pole, from doing his canter poles diagonally, he has learned that rushing them isn’t what he needs to do! 

Turning the flat square into four jumps is another option, it can be a great introduction to jumping your horse through big grids with a lot of bounces, also great for getting your horse to lift his legs & for working on that hind muscle. All of these exercises are great for control & will definitely let you know where you are at when it comes to working together with your horse as a team! 

Be sure to try some of these exercises out & do tag us your Instagram videos if you give The Square” a go, I would love to see how you get on & how your horse tackles it! 


In the meantime if you have any suggestions on what you would like Orla & Coco to cover on next months exercise, do let us know! 

Until Next Time,