February Monthly Exercise – 6 Things to Work on Using 6 Poles

 I was helping a friend with some jumping one weekend and after we had finished, someone else had come in to the arena and placed some poles. By the time I came in, the layout below is what I had to work with and while it looks like a bunch of randomly placed poles, it was actually perfect for what I needed to work on with Coco.


The last few weeks I’ve been dealing with Coco’s new-found love of bucking. Thankfully she’s gotten much better but I’m now back to dealing with a very excited Coco who just wants to canter all the time. Given this I need to find a way to get her settled and focused and put that energy to good use. This random set of poles was a brilliant happy accident so I thought some others might find it helpful too.

6 Things to Work on Using 6 Poles

1. Warming Up

With the poles in random places around the arena, they were perfect to incorporate into our warm up. Coco’s first few canters are always the most exciting so rather than doing laps of the arena, it was great to be able to put her on circles and find a pole along the way that she’d have to pay attention to. It wakes her up and makes her realise that she has to listen to me if she doesn’t want to trip over herself over a pole.


2. Setting a Rhythm

Once warmed up, you can use this exercise to get your horse settled into a rhythm. There are some very simple lines that you can do without challenging your horse too much so you can really get a feel for their stride which you’ll need when it comes to taking on the tighter turns.

3. Turn Backs

As you can probably see, there are so many opportunities in this layout to practice your turn backs, making this an ideal layout for jump off practice. While I only used poles and two small jumps, everything can be turned into a jump so the more experienced horse & rider can benefit from this exercise too.

4. Keeping her Busy

With the poles placed in such a variety of places, it was nearly impossible for Coco to anticipate where we were going next. This is so vital for our sessions as she gets bored incredibly easy and becomes fed up. So this is guaranteed to keep any ADHD horses interested in what they’re working on.


5. Practicing Flying Changes

Of course, no canter pole exercise is complete without the opportunity to practice your flying changes. 

6. Getting Back into Jumping

Since Coco started acting up a few months ago, I’ve kind of lost my nerve when it comes to jumping. We don’t seem to trust each other any more so I definitely need to take some time to build our confidence back up. Given this I wanted to keep our first few jumping sessions as low pressure as possible. And this exercise was the perfect place to start. I was able to incorporate some small jumps into this exercise that were just another element of a bigger exercise. 


And those are my 6 things to do with 6 poles! I was delighted with myself after discovering this little layout and it worked a treat for Coco. Give it a go and let me know if you find any other good uses for it. In the mean time, I’m going to get thinking on what Darielle & Dante can do next month 😉

Thanks for reading,


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