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Poles & Cones - Creating variation in the daily training

Photo and Graphic: Malgré Tout

Both poles and cones can be good, variety-creating tools in the daily training of your horse. And they only get even better when you use them together. Here you get three exercises that can help strengthen the muscles, joints, coordination and understanding of pace for your horse.

You can try to think outside the famous creative box when working with poles and cones. The cones can often be used to mark where an exercise should start or end, but they can also be incorporated into a pole exercise or as part of a larger exercise. In the same way, poles can be used for much more than letting your horse walk over them. They can be used, for example, to ride through or as a frame for an exercise.

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Why pole training makes sense 

The way a horse moves is important when it comes to the impact on the horse's body both in wear and tear and in the building of the muscles. It kind of goes without saying that if a horse carries itself inappropriately, it will have an increased negative impact on the body. This can cause both pain and increased risk of injury for the horse. If it manages to carry itself optimally, the horse will be strengthened through training and be better protected from injuries. A good way to optimize the movement pattern of the horse is through pole training.

Exercise 1: Using one hand

In this exercise, you should hold the reins in one hand and guide your horse through both cones, jump standards and poles. Focus on using your legs to guide the horse through the exercise. Start out in trot and experiment with canter later on. Start in one corner and do a circle around each cone on the long side and then finish this side by crossing a pole in the middle. Continue to the other long side, where you and your horse will do slalom around three jump standards.

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Graphic: Malgré Tout

Exercise 2: environmental training and coordination

Here is a good opportunity to train your horse’s environmental understanding and coordination. Place the poles so they form a path; it can be an L or a more straight line with a slight bend. Inside the path itself, which is formed by the poles, you place the cones so they point with the tip towards each other. Let the horse walk over the cones between the poles. This way, the poles create the track that the horse needs to walk in, and the cones emphasize where your horse should place its legs. It is a simple, yet challenging exercise.

Graphic: Malgré Tout

Exercise 3: small and quick turns

It looks simple, but in this exercise there are many small twists and turns and your horse really needs to think about where to put its legs. Place three poles at the one long side, three cones on one short side and five cones on the opposite short side. The exercise is to get your horse to do slalom around the first three cones, over the poles and finally do slalom around the last five cones. Remember to change direction so you try the exercise on both hands.

Graphic: Malgré Tout

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