Poles are for practicing.

Poles can be primo for practicing equitation and picking up peace (and perhaps the pony's pace) during peeved phases.

I’m not talking about pole bending – as in gymkhanas and speed shows. Sure, those can be pretty fun.

And this isn’t about the poll, the part of the horse’s anatomy which is frequently a focus of trainers aiming for proper flexion and bend. That discussion is important, but it’s not today’s focus.

This isn’t even about jumping poles or cavalettis.

Nope. Plain old poles.

Simple ground poles, made either of wood or plastic, can be super for focusing both horse and rider in any equestrian discipline.

Oh, baby. This has been a lifesaver for me, particularly as I’ve been slugging my way back from a horrific tumble from a horse (Here’s that story.) and a frustrating period of health issues. I’ve battled both injury and an extended season of vertigo, which becomes particularly pronounced atop a horse.

(There’s something about being off my own feet – and packed around on another creature – that makes it harder to adapt to a neurologically whirling world.)

Having a ground pattern to follow, or even a target, is a real plus.

We put pairs of poles on the ground and ride back and forth through them. We make pinwheels of poles and ride over them. We set up all sorts of patterns and ride around, amid, and past them.

Pretty soon, I’m piloting my pony – thinking more about these markers and less about whether we are balanced, reeling, or possibly spooking.

Traffic cones help in pretty much the same way.

We also use plenty of trot poles.

Trot poles help the rider sit up and take notice, while urging the horse to pick up his or her feet more promptly and precisely.

Once in a while, my overachieving and spirited mare puts it in her mind to jump a pole or two, instead of prancing prettily past. And, each time we pass through that hurdle, we have won another wee battle.

Where can jump poles / ground poles be found?

Ready-made Jump Rails are available, but it’s simple to make your own.

Wooden landscaping beams, rounded wood poles, and PVC lengths may be found at home improvement stores. Most of these retailers will even cut poles to size. Carpet stores frequently offer heavy cardboard rolls for free, after their stock has been installed.

Gotta love those ground poles.

The Mane Point: A Haven for Horse Lovers is participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge again this year. Stop on back, so you don’t miss a single post!

LAN photo 
by RAH for Nickers and Ink
Used by permission.
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