4 Effective Pole Exercises Using Just 4 Poles

4 Effective Pole Exercises Using Just 4 Poles

Here are 4 great pole exercises you can do with just 4 poles, so it’s a quick set-up and take-down (because let’s face it, some of the elaborate pole exercises out there are very cool, but a lot of work to set up!)


1. The circle – the humble circle is such a basic exercise, but has so many benefits in training. Spice it up a little with a pole at each quarter, and then: count the strides between each pole, at each pace. Aim for the exact same number of strides on each quarter of the circle – it’s much harder than it sounds! Ready for a challenge? Now, set in advance how many strides you will do – you might extend for half a circle (less strides) and collect for the other half (more strides). You can even change every quarter circle – eg – 5 strides, 4 strides, 3 strides, 2 strides (in canter) – now there’s a challenge! Through all of this – remember to aim for the very middle of the pole each time!

2. The peanut – this is a great exercise for bending and suppleness. You will be riding a turn line before and after each pole. On a more basic level, it will really help with accuracy and steering. For more advanced riders or horses, use the lines to get your horse around your inside leg into your outside rein. Advanced riders may even add a few steps of leg yield or shoulder in to help with suppleness. You can put the poles closer together for a challenge, or further apart for a green horse or novice rider.

3. The serpentine – if the judges always comment that your serpentines need more accuracy, this one is for you! Set up the poles at each point that the serpentine crosses the centreline, including A and C. Then, ride the serpentine, aiming for the middle of the pole each time. You only want to ride 3 straight strides (1 before, 1 over and 1 after the pole) at each centreline. Will really help cement what a good serpentine feels like! And serpentines are a fantastic bending and suppleness exercise for horses. Up for a challenge? Ride it in canter with changes of lead (through trot, walk or flying change, depending on your level), at each pole.

4. The loop-the-loop – a more advanced exercise, although novice riders will benefit from this in walk. Ride a volte (12m – 8m) after each pole, swapping reins each time (ie left volte, right volte, and so on). Keeps your horse on their toes and listening (great for horses that have a tendency to daydream and tune you out) as well as being a great suppleness exercise. The poles will help guide you for the size of the volte to ensure accuracy – and as always, aim for the middle of the pole!

Give these a go and let us know how you go! Pole work is so beneficial for horses’ bodies and minds, as well as making us better riders, and with only 4 poles, there’s no excuse! 

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