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Use ground poles for improving your horse's posture and coordination

All of these riders most likely employed ground poles as part of their training
All of these riders most likely employed ground poles as part of their training
Wikimedia Commons Photo

Ground poles are versatile and fun to use in helping your horse develop muscles and a knowledge of where he is placing his feet.  Exercises can be done from the ground or during a riding session. 

If your horse is unfamiliar with ground poles, then introduce the poles to him during ground work by leading him up to them, around them and then over them.  Allow your horse to lower his head for a good look at the poles.

In this way, you will ensure that you alleviate any fears that he may have.  So take this introduction nice and slow in a relaxed manner.

One suggestion: start with 4 round wooden poles that are 12 feet in length.  You can paint them with two different colors marking the center and the ends in order to help both you and your horse more easily detect where the center is. 

Your first sessions as described in this article will be to simply keep the poles on the ground and spaced 4 feet apart.  Have your horse walk or trot through this mini course.  If you have a large horse, you may want to increase the distance to 4 1/2 feet or shorter than 4 feet if working with a pony.

Once your horse is comfortable with trotting the poles cleanly, no nicks, then you can also practice backing him up over just one pole for starters.  Then you can also use the ground poles to work on side passing in different configurations such as an 'L' shape or 'U' shape.  The exercises are only limited by your imagination.  Most horse seem to enjoy this type of work, but don't overdue it.  Stop before your horse gets bored.  Ensure that he will be fresh and looking forward to future sessions.

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