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! 


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,