Looking for the answer to streamlining your school-based workouts? Jasean Spraggett shares her secrets in the first instalment of our new polework series
Schooling can become mundane if done too often, but what if you could halve the time spent in your arena so you can get out more doing what you really enjoy? By streamlining your schooling and riding more effective exercises, you’ll be able to make flatwork fun again.
When done well, polework is an excellent addition to any horse’s routine – from the young or inexperienced horse needing to build strength and flexibility, to the more developed horse adding some expression to his paces. Plus, its benefits are recognised across the disciplines from showjumpers and eventers to dressage and show horses.
Rather than throwing together a few poles and hoping for the best, why not practise some tried and tested floorplans, instead. Get started with this layout that promises to boost suppleness, rhythm and engagement.
If you need to reduce the number of poles in the exercise, make sure the sets you plan to trot over are made up of at least three. Stripping it down to two might encourage your horse to jump them as a pair.
About the exercise
This pole layout will help your horse to engage his hindquarters, sit back on his hocks and lighten his forehand. Incorporating transitions within the gait and changes of rein, the questions come up faster than you might expect, so he’ll need to be on the ball and attentive to your aids. It’ll encourage him to bend around your inside leg, not just around the corners but through the loops and back to the track.
Set it up
For this exercise, you’ll need 16 poles (or a bare minimum of three – see further suggestions). Place a set of at least three poles, spaced 1.2–1.7m apart depending on the length of your horse’s stride, in the two corners at the C end of your arena.
Then, set up tramlines…
- down the long side of the arena
- between C–E and C–B
- at a suitable angle to return to the track after a demi-volte on the track at C.
For top tips on how to ride this exercise and what benefits you’ll see, pick up your copy of August Horse&Rider, out now