EQUUS - - Tack& Gear -

Use this ground-pole con­fig­u­ra­tion to help your horse in­crease his sym­me­try, stride aware­ness and body con­trol.

A “raised pole fan” ar­range­ment re­quires foot­work that switches be­tween the ex­ten­sor and flexor mus­cle chains. This ex­er­cise targets the tho­racic sling, sti­fle mus­cles and pelvic sta­bil­ity. It is not un­com­mon for horses to trip or bang the poles the first time through this rou­tine un­til they make the pro­pri­o­cep­tive im­prove­ments to go through cleanly. This de­cep­tively dif­fi­cult ex­er­cise does won­ders for the horse’s stride aware­ness and con­trol.

1. With the in­side edge of the poles raised to a height of 12 to 16 inches, set up four to six poles in a fan shape as shown. Space the raised in­side ends of the poles ap­prox­i­mately one foot apart; set the wider ends 4 1/2 feet apart.

2. Be­gin by riding around the nar­row end of poles at the walk. Ask your horse to take just a sin­gle step be­tween

each pole (see photo op­po­site).

3. Main­tain a clear bend to the in­side by ap­ply­ing light pres­sure with your in­side leg.

4. Cir­cle around to cross the poles again, but now move over to the wider end of the pole fan (see photo at left).

5. Ask for two steps be­tween each set of poles while main­tain­ing in­side bend. Re­ally ask your horse to ex­tend his strides as you cross this end of poles.

6. Cir­cle around again, but now go back to the raised, nar­row end, and be sure to get just a sin­gle step be­tween each pole.

7. Con­tinue cir­cling over the poles, alternatin­g which end you cross over and the num­ber of steps be­tween each pole as de­scribed above.

Done cor­rectly, this ex­er­cise will feel like tak­ing the horse back and forth from a finely con­trolled col­lected walk to a big ex­tended walk. It will high­light any in­sta­bil­ity in his pelvis, though, so do not be sur­prised if he strug­gles with the foot­work.

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