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Why our horses should be walking over poles

Scottie walking over poles, do you warm up before riding?

Polework isn’t just for jumpers! Every horse can benefit from some polework in their routine. Whether it’s to help them strengthen up or just to add a bit of variety into their lives. But how many of us are regularly just walking over poles? I’m going to say probably not that many of us. But a recent study has found walking over poles has some great benefits for our horses.

What are the benefits of working over poles?

There are mental and physical benefits of working your horse over poles on a regular basis. Physically it often asks them to change the way they are moving, lifting their legs higher. This can help strengthen the muscles. Many horses naturally drop their head and lift their back over poles, encouraging that correct way of going. Mentally, polework can add a lot of variety into a horse’s life. You can ride a different pole exercise each week, asking slightly different things of your horse. This helps keep your horse interested in their work. Check out some more benefits of polework.

Why is walking over poles better than trot/canter?

Spending more time walking your horse can be really beneficial and it is something I think we are all a bit guilty of not doing enough of. This is an area I have really embraced since Scottie’s arthritis diagnosis. But a recent study has suggested that walking over poles could be more beneficial than trotting or cantering over them. This is because in trot, horses can rely of the elasticity of their tendons to do a lot of the work for them. This natural spring and bounce from the trot helps them lift their legs up over the poles. But in walk, horses have to use their muscles more to lift their legs over the poles.

What horses benefit from walking over poles?

All of them! I think walking over poles has long been associated with rehabing horses and this recent study fully supports this idea. But this study also really highlighted the idea that competition horses can also really benefit from the potential muscle strengthening there is to be gained fro walking over poles.

It’s so easy to introduce!

It’s so easy to introduce walking over poles and include it as part of your routine. Walking your horse over poles can be done; under saddle, in hand, lunging or long reining. You can do it as part of your normal schooling session or just spend some time just doing that. I have heard of some competition yards having fixed poles on their private hacking routes. So horses have to walk over poles while out hacking. Is there somewhere you could leave poles out all the time to walk over? Or maybe have a chat with the rest of the yard about leaving a few poles set out in the arena for a period of time.

Last Updated on 28/10/2022

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