March Exercise 1 – Improving Your Horses Canter & Adjustability

The month of February seemed to run off with me a little and I never got to upload my last exercise! What better excuse to keep pushing them into March to keep us all motivated during our extended lockdown, here in Ireland anyways. This week we are back to pole work. I still alternate between grid work, related distance pole work and course jumping, so this is an exercise I tend to use quite a bit for my pole workout days.

Keep scrolling below to see the layout and “how to” on this weeks exercise.

The Set Up

See the image below the set up, this also includes the striding you need between the poles. I use this exercise as a flat work exercise, I also raise the poles but for the brave you can of course introduce some jumps to the mix!

Note: In the image below, poles with triangles beside them, were not jumps but raised cavaletti poles, these can be set up also if you wish to jumps or poles flat on the ground whatever suits you and your horse.

How To Ride This Exercise

  1. As always, I advise that a good warm up is done prior to partaking in any of our exercises. For this exercise I focused on having a forward moving canter in my warm up. Try to make sure you warm up evenly on both reins, I find timing my riding really helpful! Transition work from trot to canter around your arena will also benefit you as we piece the entire exercise together
  2. Lets begin, as always section by section. I began firstly cantering over my related distance poles. whilst both distances are measured in 4 stride and 2 stride distance, I focused a lot on adjusting the canter between these poles, this really got Dante listening to me (after a while) and in turn it made his canter a lot more adjustable. This will really help me on my jumping days, and it is something I have been putting a lot of focus into the last while
  3. Once you are happy with how you are riding both distances, whether it be hitting the striding perfect each time or trying to adjust for longer or shorter strides, it is time now to add in the 3 raised trot poles across the middle of the arena.
  4. The three raised poles for me where to keep Dante’s head busy as we approached the related distances, as well as my head from over thinking. I tend to over think a lot if things when it come to doing a lot of canter work! (Don’t even ask!) This again is where all the warm up transition work will come into play.
  5. Once you are happy with the above steps, it is time to piece the entire exercise together. A lot easier said than done! As per the image below I have numbered from 1-3 as to how I rode the entire exercise. 1 – Start in your trot over your raised poles, travel around over 2 – you 4 stride related distance, 3 – into your two stride distance, and then finish off again by transitioning down to trot and travelling over your raised poles again working on having smooth downward transitions.

The Benefits of The Exercise

  • Improves your horses canter and adjustability
  • Teaches horse not to Rush
  • Improves your eye for a stride

Remember to always finish an exercise with your horse on a good, positive note. Once you are happy with how your horse rode this exercise, finish up. I always attempt the exercise again a day or two later to see if both me and Dante learned from what we were trying to achieve with the exercise!

This exercise can also be used as a jumping exercise if you wish to put the related distances up to verticals or oxers if your feeling brave! Be sure to give it a go for yourself & do tag me in any videos you take of you doing this exercise.


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