Ground pole exercise - Walk, trot, and canter
For my horses and myself, the purpose of the exercise is to check how responsive the horse is to my aids, smooth transitions before the turn, then are we straight to the next set of poles and in the right gait. After the canter poles, can I bring my horse back to the walk and do the exercise the other direction? When going through the poles, do we stay straight or do we drift to one side?
Tip: this exercise is best done in a freshly groomed arena. That way you can see the path you and your horse took through the poles, to the poles, and after the poles. Were you straight, did you drift to one side, was your turn from one set of poles to another set a smooth turn?
Need 9 poles. 3 for walk poles, 3 for trot, 3 for canter. I set my walk poles just under 3 ft apart, my trot a little over 4 ft apart, and my canter poles are about 9 1/2 feet apart.
Set groups of poles like this in the arena:
First, walk straight through the walk poles. Before the turn, Trot and go through the turn, heading straight to the trot poles. After
through the trot poles, ask for the canter. With a forward canter, go through the turn and head straight through the canter poles. Head straight, then canter through the corner, heading towards the walk poles. Out of the corner, transition to walk. Walk through the walk poles and repeat the exercise the other direction.
By doing this exercise in a freshly groomed arena, you can see your hoof prints and path. Here we drifted to the left. I should have Gus turn a bit sooner so he had a straight path to the poles.