This months exercise with Dante has to be one of my favourites, Introducing “The Square”. A good while ago Orla tested this exercise out on Coco & it worked a treat, so I thought why not give it a shot and see how Dante takes it. Not only is this exercise extremely easy to set up, but it was so beneficial in helping him start to bend and flex in around my leg, “the square” can be used to cover so many simple basic movements.
The Set Up:
You will need quite simply 4 poles, laid out on the ground in your arena, seen in the pictures below. Make sure that you leave a good bit of space to move in and around your square! Ideally it should be set up in the middle of the arena giving you space to work with.
What Exercises Can be Done:
- Trot Work
- Canter Work
- Working on Bending & Flexibility
- Leg Changes
Trot Work: The Square is great for establishing a great rhythm in your trot, from big / small horses, getting a consistent pace in between the poles is what you should be aiming for. Riding loops and circles, extending them out big & in small which is great for working & building up their top-line muscles. Keeping everything smoothly flowing and collected is the aim.
Transitions: Riding the square with transitions almost became a game towards the end! It can be slightly intimidating as bring your horse to a complete stop in the middle of the square can be quite challenging! Bearing in mind you only have a short amount of space to bring your horse down a transition! I find it great when going from trot to halt, the poles are quite a good guideline for your horse, that when you start to work on transitions out of the square they become very precise & clean!
Canter Work: Getting your horse not to rush over canter poles or even a single canter pole can be a nightmare, It was for me at the beginning trust me! I have found using the square exercise extremely helpful, and it has slowly started to translate up into Dante’s Jumping too! Cantering over the square at a curve & not hitting it straight on worked best for me to begin with, riding 20 meter circles through the square. Not only did it begin to calm his canter down, but it helped shorten his massive long stride!
Leg Changes: Continuing on from your canter work, using your square as a starter for teaching your horse leg changes is fantastic! Third time in & Dante had it down to a tee, the aim is to give your aids in the middle of the square, with the poles on either side helping them as they have to jump in and out of them.
Bending & Flexability: I wont give much of a description here, as all the above exercises include bending & circling you horse which in turn will help with your horses flexability.
See the 4 Diagrams below for exercises to try out!
To make this exercise a little harder, if you have seen from my attached photo’s, you will have noticed that I have added in a second square next to the original for the likes of transitions so he can’t anticipate the exercises, you can add in as many as you wish, I have started to use them for bounces also, he is a lot calmer on his approach to the poles now, Dante used to get overly excited when he seen a pole, from doing his canter poles diagonally, he has learned that rushing them isn’t what he needs to do!
Turning the flat square into four jumps is another option, it can be a great introduction to jumping your horse through big grids with a lot of bounces, also great for getting your horse to lift his legs & for working on that hind muscle. All of these exercises are great for control & will definitely let you know where you are at when it comes to working together with your horse as a team!
Be sure to try some of these exercises out & do tag us your Instagram videos if you give “The Square” a go, I would love to see how you get on & how your horse tackles it!
In the meantime if you have any suggestions on what you would like Orla & Coco to cover on next months exercise, do let us know!
Until Next Time,