Most of us would probably consider heading out for hillwork or knuckling down for an hour in the arena as high-intensity work for our horses. However, sometimes life commitments mean that you just don’t have the opportunity to ride for this long. As such, when time is of the essence, lungeing through a few different pole exercises will let you give him a full-body workout against the clock.
Exercise: Extending trot poles
Trot poles should be set at an equal distance between each pole when introducing the exercise for the first time. Depending on your horse’s length of stride, trotting poles would normally be set between 1.2–1.7m.
A great way of increasing the benefit is to adjust the distance between each pole to be incrementally longer, thus asking your horse to gradually lengthen his stride as he moves through the exercise. If he’s used to working with trotting poles, set up the exercise to include a minimum of five poles…
- Once your horse is warmed up, change the position of the lungeing circle to take in the line of poles.
- Approach the shorter distanced poles first so that he gradually opens his stride. Remember that lengthening requires him to drive with his hind legs to increase the power, so it’s important that he has enough impulsion to do so.
- Once he’s mastered lengthening, change the rein and approach the line from the opposite end, requiring him to collect his trot by the final pole.
Gradually extending trotting poles is a great exercise for an experienced horse, but also offers a way of teaching a green horse to lengthen his stride without his rider. This will pay dividends when starting to ask for the beginnings of medium trot under saddle.
For more exercises you can do on the lunge pick up a copy of September Horse&Rider, on sale 23 July 20