RAISED POLE FAN EXERCISE
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.