The Magazine September 2020

Straighten up with Jay Halim

Posted 5th January 2021

While there’s no single quality that’ll guarantee you a clear round, there’s one that’s sure to increase your odds. Its name? Straightness, of course

Jay Halim jumping exercises

If the formula for consistent clear rounds could be bottled and sold, the maker would be a multi-millionaire. However, while it’s often clear by the end of a course at exactly what point the wheels started falling off, other times you might watch a seemingly flawless round and come away scratching your head as to why the poles rolled more easily for this combination than the rest. The most likely diagnosis? A lack of straightness.

Even a slight hint of unevenness can translate into more faults than you can add up on both hands. What’s more, straightness is important no matter your discipline. While the tiniest lapses can be difficult to detect, by going back to basics every rider can make great improvements – all you need is a handful of poles.

Warm-up checklist

When done correctly, there’s no end to the wonders polework can work on every horse’s education. From injecting some excitement into a more established horse’s routine, to drawing a less experienced horse’s attention back into the four walls of the arena, it’s as much a workout for the mind as it is for the body. However, the body-boosting properties are numerous – from improving your horse’s topline, encouraging a more active hindleg, boosting suppleness, evenness, balance, control, precision… Name a quality you want to transform, and I bet there’s a polework exercise to suit.

With the full-body benefits polework reaps you’ll want to make sure your horse is well warmed up before you get started. But how can you be sure he’s ready? Consider whether he’s…

  • moving actively
  • stepping away from your inside leg
  • working into both reins
  • in a consistent frame

Top tip

Don’t rely on your inside rein to create an outline – you’ll run the risk of losing your horse’s outside shoulder. First, concentrate on consistency and evenness in the contact, then the outline will follow.

Check out Jay’s pole exercise to help improve your straightness in March Horse&Rider, on sale 7 January 2021.


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