When me and Coco were having some bucking issues a few weeks ago, I needed to find an exercise that I could use to keep Coco moving, listening and interested in the work I was asking her to do. This exercise was recommended to me by our very own Coach Sue Byrne who actually sent me the layout over a picture of chicken on a baking tray (no joke, see picture at the bottom of this post!).
What’s is this exercise good for?
- Engaging your horse physically and mentally
- Practicing flying changes
How to Set it Up
This exercise is made up of a selection of trot poles and canter poles. You will need 8 poles all placed along the centre line of the arena. Starting at the top of the arena, place two trot poles, beside one of these poles place a single pole, beside that pole place another two trot poles, beside these poles place a single pole, finishing off with another two trot poles beside that single pole – see diagram for reference.
How to Ride it
- Starting at the top of the arena, trot across the first set of trot poles
- Track right and loop around to the next set of trot poles
- Track left and loop around to the last set of trot poles
- Track right and come up the centre line, staying between the poles
- Repeat this two or three times on each rein until you hit every set of poles in a steady rhythm
- Picking up canter at the bottom of the arena, canter across your first canter pole asking for a lead change over the pole
- Track left and loop around to the next canter pole, asking for a lead change over the pole
- Track right and come down the centre line, asking for a lead change at X and track left
- Repeat this two or three times on each rein, aiming for a clean lead change each time
- Step it up a notch by combining the trot and canter exercises. Ask for canter when you come off the centre line at the end of the trot exercise and start over your canter poles.
- Test how well your horse is really listening to you by asking for canter after the first set of trot poles and come over the canter pole beside that set of poles, and then back to trot to take on the next set of trot poles and repeat the whole way down the set up.
- One thing I love about this exercise is that it can be very easily turned into a jumping exercise and it becomes a whole new challenge for both horse and rider.
This was definitely one of the funner exercises I have done with Coco and it was perfect for settling her down and getting her listening to what I was asking her to do. Coco is the type of mare who needs to be kept busy, when she gets bored she likes to make her own fun and this is when the messing starts.
Give this a go and as always let us know how you get on.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Check out Sue’s amazing drawing of this exercise on her tray of chicken! Yellow line is Trot, Blue line is Canter.