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Ponies & Poles

We held our first Pole Work Clinic of 2020 last Saturday!

Welcoming Michelle & her daughter Jasmine, Bridget & husband Will & Katarzyna to #TeamSpiritInStirrups, we set out to blow away those winter cobwebs and find new motivation for schooling sessions.

I always find pole work is an excellent way to do just that. It not only engages the horse’s body, but it also engages both horse’s and rider’s brains 🧠 💭 Poles are great tools to develop rhythm, balance, core strength, awareness and coordination of the horse’s feet at any given time.

I had such a fantastic time coaching this group. It was a very mixed bag of abilities and sizes in horses too, the tallest being Format at 17.2hh and Nando the Shetland being the smallest. But this made it even more fun.

It was really interesting to see that the horses found the first exercise with 4 ground poles quite tricky initially, as well as when later raised to cavalletti. However, with each turn, as the riders became more relaxed and focussed, so did the horses.

The second set of poles were spaced as trotting poles in one of the arena’s corners. Most rider/horse combos found their rhythm and balance quickly. Will & Buttercup (the bay TB) needed a little more help. Buttercup kept running out on the outside of the poles, as Will lost sight & focus on the direction they were both travelling in. Once Will realised and refocused, they both manoeuvred the poles beautifully. And watching little Nando try to keep up with the ‘big boys’ was just the cutest thing.

The final exercise of the day was one of my favourites. Poles were lined up in a straight line, and the horses were asked to step over and across from side to side. The goal of this exercise is to improve proprioception & joint range of movement. It was recommended by the fabulous Rachel Keeble who was Skye’s physiotherapist, and helped us immensely on her rehab journey. Once the horses (and riders 😉) got the hang of it, they did a brilliant job.

We laughed and learned lots together, and initial nerves were soon forgotten. Everyone had such a fun time and the next group session is booked in a fortnight. I can’t wait 😊.

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