The power of polework
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The power of polework
What is Polework?
Polework is a fun and different way to exercise both horse and rider. It involves setting out variations of poles on the ground to strengthen and enhance both dressage and jumping techniques. It is also a great way of increasing fitness for both rider and horse and helps horse and rider develop a stronger partnership.
Why is polework good for my horse?
Most importantly polework helps with keeping tempo and rhythm the same, which is so important in any discipline. It encourages your horse to use itself in the correct way and to engage its hind legs and create elevation (a more exaggerated movement from its natural paces). It also highlights any straightness issues, such as drifting to one side, which can then be corrected with the relevant exercises. Polework will build up and strengthen the horse’s abdominal and top line muscles and can also stimulate the horse mentally as it is a varied activity.
Why is it good for me?
Polework challenges your balance; you need to be able to keep up with your horse, as it exaggerates its natural movement over the poles. It will highlight if you are getting in front or behind the movement. When it feels like you are completely in control of your body and are together with your horse it’s probably correct -repetition is key!
Coming into and riding away from poles will help you to ride straight lines over obstacles, which will help with jumping later on. Canter poles are a good way to get your eye in for jumping fences without worrying about the fence itself. Polework will help build up core strength, stamina and a real connection with your horse. It is mentally very beneficial as it is challenging, but it's also fun and can bring a real sense of achievement.
Try these exercises with your horse
Exercise one: Trot poles on the straight
Set up 4 poles in a straight line with 5 (4 for shorter striding ponies) pigeon steps (heel to toe) between them and trot over these 4 times on each rein. The horse should get one step in each gap. Always finish on a good one. This exercise helps with straightness.