As a horse takes measured strides with distances and heights set by poles, he corrects gait irregularities and poor rhythm. These gait abnormalities can include uneven use of the hind legs, persistent crookedness and habits of bracing his neck. Depending on which condition needs to be corrected, a variety of pole routines can be used. The following patterns target hip stabilizers, improve joint flexion and resolve muscular bracing.
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Snake Over Poles. Place six to eight poles, touching end to end, in a long, straight line either directly on the ground or raised to a height of 8 inches. In a slow walk with light rein contact, ride a tight serpentine that crosses back and forth across the line of poles. Your loops should be very small so that you remain close to the pole rather than drift out, away from it.
Repeat several times. Raised Fan. Use five poles to create a fan shape with the inside ends of the poles raised 8 inches off the ground. Place the raised ends of the poles so they are 2 feet apart from each other. Measure the center of each pole 4 feet apart from each other.
Begin by riding around the inside edge of the fan on a tiny, slow-motion circle. Be sure your horse takes only a single step between each pole. Now, enlarge your circle to cross over the outer edge of all five poles. Try to get three steps between each pole. Continue repeating this sequence. Pick-Up Sticks. Using as many poles as you have access to, scatter them around the arena in a random fashion.
Place some close to one another, others far apart and at all kinds of angles. Cross the poles using numerous approaches—straight across, obliquely. Ride for three-minute circuits like this, constantly changing your order of riding over the poles. After each circuit, rest briefly and then repeat. Especially when training programs are proceeding smoothly, it can be tempting to overlook the importance of routines like the ones above. But remember: Every athlete needs to constantly keep his muscles and movement patterns balanced and tension-free.
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Only through consistent recruitment of the nervous system without involvement of the gymnastic system can we do this. By paying attention to these small details we often produce enormous results. Learn By Levels.
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Fashion and Apparel. International Travel. Book Reviews. FEI World Cup. Refining Dressage Skills in Germany. After two weeks of solid walk-trot work you can gradually introduce the canter, again working up slowly from 5 minutes just as you did the trot. After thirty days of flat work you can begin to add more strenuous activity to your conditioning program like jumping or speed work barrels but work up slowly.
Figure in another month to get your horse back to where he was before he took the break. Begin with jumping a single, low fence both directions for the first week, then add in a line and work your way back to a full course. Once you are jumping a course at a smaller height, gradually increase the size of your fences and the complexity of the course.
If you are worried that you or your horse might get bored working on the flat, remember that flatwork is the foundation for your riding no matter what discipline you ride.
Training the Happy Dressage Athlete with JJ Tate
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How often should my horse see the farrier?
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