Week 2 – Winter Break Exercise

Week #2

Midas’ Challenge!

Midas’s challenge this week is an equitation challenge! Set up some trot poles and ride them at posting trot, then two point and then sitting trot. Are you able to do all three with your horse maintaining the same spacing? Next try at a canter in a half seat, two point and sitting!

How to set poles:

Trot poles should be set between 3 feet (collected trot) and 4.5 feet (working trot). For a good average pole spacing, take one large step between the poles.

Canter poles should be set at 9 feet. This is about three people steps between poles!

If you aren’t sure, you can set them on a bit of an arc and ride the inside, middle or outside of the arc and see what rides the best for your horse.

Why? A rider should aim to be effective, while not inadvertently interfering with their horse, or throwing them off balance.

Trouble Shooting:

  • If you find your horse is getting quicker or “chipping” to the poles, then you are likely throwing them off balance as you change your position. Try to remember that it is your CORE that should control your position (not your lower back!) and that you need to control how quickly you adjust your position using both eccentric and concentric muscles (push and pull muscles).
  • If you find your horse’s stride is getting longer when you change your position, you are likely allowing your horse to lengthen its neck which will result in a longer stride. Remember you can lengthen and shorter your reins to maintain contact.
  • If you find your horse’s stride is getting shorter when you change position – sit, then you are likely interfering with your horse’s back. This could mean your reins have gotten too short, or that you are blocking your horse’s back with a stiff seat. You need to absorb your horse’s back motion by tightening your core (damn that core again!), and “lifting” your horse’s back with your seat bones.


Scotch’s Challenge!

This one sounds easy, but give it a try!

Walk up to a pole (on your horse), collect it’s walk, and try halting your horse with only one leg over a pole.

Why? This is a simple test of the “whoa” response. A horse that locks its jaw or otherwise braces/hesitates before listing to the rein pressure won’t be able to resist taking the second step over the pole.

You might notice your horse always steps over with the same leg, usually a right dominant horse will step over with their left leg first.

Trouble Shooting:  If your horse insists on stepping over with the second leg, you don’t have a prompt rein response. Work on the prompt response on a circle with some inside flexion, and by lifting up. Accelerate the pressure from a light to strong response with an immediate softening when you get the whoa. Remember that even though we are working on JUST the rein response, you still want to sit up and not throw your horse off balance.