Wow, what a reaction to our last exercise, thank you to everyone who liked & shared it. I have upped my game since & I can safely say I am happy to deliver a fabulous new grid/pole exercise for you all.
I have incorporated a mixture of everything, from pole work to some jumping in this exercise you are sure to be challenged, yet I hope you walk away feeling accomplished just like I did!
It looks a lot harder than it actually is, so dont be alarmed. It is suitable for the beginner as much as the more experienced horse.
Keep scrolling to find out how to set up & ride this exercise!
The Set Up
For this exercise you will need your entire arena. 9 poles are needed, two set of cavalettis or two sets of small blocks to raise your poles & a set of wings to put up your jump.
See the image below. I have highlighted the ground poles in Red, the raised poles in purple & the pole where your jump is has been coloured blue.
The distance between the grids is as follows,
1 stride 6 large footsteps (1 for landing and one for take off then four large steps totalling 6 to make your one stride distance)
2 stride 10 large footsteps (1 for landing and one for take off then eight large steps totalling 10 to make your two stride distance)
The strides can be adjusted through out the exercise to best shit your horse. These suited Dante but I would recommend having someone on the ground to help assist with adjustments.
The Benefits Of This Exercise
- Improve your approach to a fence, improving your eye for a stride
- Focus on your position over fences & through a small grid
- Riding your corners
- Consistant rhythm in the canter
- Control & sharpening up your leg aids
How To Ride This Exercise
Step 1: As always, I advise that you do a good warm up with your horse prior to partaking in any of our exercises. For this exercise I put the focus on having a forward active canter in my warm up. Pushing him forward & holding on the long & short sides of my arena trying to focus on using my seat & leg aids. Once you are happy with how your horse is feeling follow the steps below to get the most out of our “Oh Poley God” exercise.
Step 2: let’s Start with the small jump across the diagonal. Pick up your canter & begin with riding your horse across the small jump Positioned as per the image. The point of placing the jump here was to help aid Dante with a leg change across his diagonal as well As help me to gain a bit more control. You might have noticed the two ground poles tunnelled in front of the jump. This was to help keep Dante straight & to stop him drifting either side on his approach to the fence. Focus on Riding across the diagonal until you are happy with your approach & your landing. Think about keeping your upper body still & remember think to use your legs & seat over being fussy with your hands!
Step 3: It’s time to begin with The grid. Don’t be afraid of the thought of it, Think of it as a set of four canter poles. To begin with, I had the jump part of the grid as a ground pole. Approach your grid in canter, aiming to keeping a controlled & even rhythm. Don’t worry about not hitting the correct strides at first, your horse may take one or two goes to “find their feet” or to figure out what it is exactly they are doing! keep your leg on & maintain a steady hold of your contact into the first pole,
Step 4: Ride through the grid a few times, keep in mind though that you may not approach certain poles correctly but that is ok. Your horse will learn to adjust as he moves through it. Be sure to help your horse by sitting up tall, keeping your leg on & looking straight ahead of you while you ride through the grid. When you land after the the last pole dont come to a stop, keep your canter active & ride until you reach the long side of the arena.
Step 5: Now lets make things fun by adding in the jump in the middle of your grid. Again, this is not going to change anything in the way you ride down your grid. I kept the jump relatively small at 90cm, something that was big enough to get Dante to concentrate but small enough that it wouldn’t throw of my concentration. The key thing here is to sit up tall as you land after your fence, don’t forget about the two canter poles after your fence! Once you are happy with how your horse is working, it’s now time piece the entire oh Poley God exercise together.
Step 6: as you have already perfected the steps above, putting everything together will be easy. Start by riding down over your grid, but as you land you are continuing to ride across your diagonal over your small fence. Once you are happy with how your horse has ridden the entire exercise, remember to rewards & finish up! This is a very tiring exercise for your horse so do keep that in mind & try not to over work..
And there you have my Oh Poley God Exercise. This is a great one to do with a few friends in your riding school, or one to incorporate into riding lessons. You have a lot to work with whilst still riding away feeling accomplished!
If you are feeling brave or have a more experienced horse, you can of course make all the canter poles in your grid into fences. Remember nothing changes the way you ride them!
Let me know how you ride this exercise & be sure to head over to Instagram to see how me & Dante got on!