The Magazine April 2020

Winter inspiration series – part 5

Posted 27th February 2020

As we count down the last few days until the clocks change and all horsey folk breathe a sigh of relief, our winter training series comes to an end with four fabulous, fun and inspiring exercises from our brilliant trainers in association with Baileys Horse Feeds.

Mary King's riding exercise

In the final part of the series, our coaches Mary King and Chris Burton are back to share more of their favourite exercises to develop your horse’s way of going, build muscle tone and, ultimately, gain higher marks. It’s almost time to get out there into the competition arena and put all that you’ve learned into practice – so good luck from all at Baileys and Team Horse&Rider!

Framework over poles

This exercise builds strength in your horse’s canter, as well as allowing you to inject energy into each stride because he has to make more effort and use his whole body, including all his core muscles and topline.

How to ride it

  1. On the three-quarter line, set out four poles on the floor, three metres apart with jump wings or pole raisers on either side.
  2. Once you’ve warmed up your horse in all paces, approach the line of poles in canter.
  3. The aim is for your horse to stretch, lower and round his frame over the poles, not hollow, jump or rush. Focus on encouraging this soft, round shape and aim to repeat the line of poles until you’re happy. Once he understands what to do he’ll soon settle into the exercise.
  4. Raise the first and last poles by no more than 30cm. Don’t change anything about the way you ride on the approach.
  5. Gradually raise the middle two poles one at a time, working from the back forward.

Top tip

You can build this exercise between E and B and incorporate it into a figure of eight, too.


Each horse has a different length stride. The aim of this exercise is to develop your horse’s gymnastic ability, not alter his stride length, so adjust the distances to make them comfortable for him.

Did you know?

This exercise is brilliant for developing your horse’s way of going on the flat but also helps create a sharper, stronger canter ready for when you jump a bigger fence.

For more great exercises from Mary and Chris pick up a copy of April Horse&Rider magazine, on sale 5 March.

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