Many equestrians are now at home without sessions with their trainers, or any proper practice whatsoever. We know it is hard to keep training by yourself. That is why we are bringing you an easy exercise you can do alone. Five poles are all you need for it!
What exactly will you practice? You will:
First, you need to place the poles. They should be in two lines alongside the long wall of your arena, with one cavaletti right in the middle. The distances between poles are 22 meters and 18 meters. Everything set? Good, let´s begin.
When your horse is warmed up, start with a circle in the canter over the middle pole. All you need to focus on is a nice, steady pace with inside flexion. If possible, try not to rush, and keep the horse calm. Also, try not to mind the distance. At this level, your horses should be able to solve it themselves. It also helps them to get confident in finding the distance while jumping.
When you have cantered over the middle pole to the right and left, connect all three cavalettis on the circle. Your goal is, again, to keep relaxed and even pace. Try to act as if the poles were jumps – look forward, sit straight, hand still.
The next thing you can do is practice lead changes by riding the shape of tilde. See in the scheme below. If your horse is not very friendly with lead changes, you can make it a bit easier for them and ride straight from pole to pole more like a diagonal than a tilde.
Let's move to the distances! They offer an option in the number of strides inside. In the line with 22 meters, you can make a decision and either do six shorter, or five longer strides (depending on your horse). In the line with 18 meters, do either four longer or five shorter strides. Your goal is to set your mind beforehand and ride the desired amount, which is good preparation for jumping distances.
DISTANCES WITH CIRCLES
When you feel comfortable with variations of strides in the lines, fuse it with little circles, like this: canter over a pole, do a small circle, canter the whole line, and do a little circle again. You aim to keep the same pace in the small circle, which helps your horse to engage hind legs, and it is also a good practice for maintaining the same speed through a tight turn. Whether you choose the shorter or longer version of strides inside the distance, don´t change the rhythm while turning.
THE FINAL VERSION
If everything went good during the previous steps, move the level up! Start with a big circle over the three poles. Then do a small circle over one cavaletti, continue on the distance, and do the small circle again. Then do the tilde with a lead change, a small circle over a pole, line, small circle, and finish with a big circle over the three poles.
It is easy to get inclined to one direction during this exercise. The reason is simple: both you and your horse feel more comfortable riding either to the left or to the right. Thus, you subconsciously spend more time on the hand that feels better. It is essential to ride this exercise equally to both left and right. Remember that the more you practice at home, may it feel uncomfortable, the better it will be when you compete. If you want to make sure your session was balanced, take advantage of EQUIMO´s analysis of left and right-directed motion. Focus on the equality of your gaits, analyze your training, and get a better, more balanced ride!