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So Much You Can Do With Two Poles: Improving Straightness

99 Things You Can Do With 2 Poles5

Our TWO POLE training series explores the variety of exercises you can practice to improve both horse and rider, simply using two jump poles. Brought to you by experienced trainer and ReadySupp’s co-founder Didi Verdina, the series covers exercises for all levels of horse and rider and begins with the easiest level. 

This exercise is very useful for straightness and it makes the rider think ahead. We often forget that our horses have 4 legs, if they had two as we do they would be able to ‘turn on a sixpence’  very easily, but with four legs it’s physically impossible. It’s our job as riders to plan ahead, prepare our horse, and start using our aids effectively in order to communicate clearly on what we are asking him to do.

Two Poles

Place 2 poles on a diagonal, one on P (or V) and one on R (or S) as shown in the diagram.

Starting in trot, ride half diagonal coming from F (making sure you ride properly into the corner, supporting your horse with your outside aids so he doesn’t fall out) to X, then from X towards M, creating a ‘bending line’.

If your school is 20x60m you will have a lot more space in between the two poles, so the exercise will be slightly easier. To avoid creating an angle over X remember the intro to this blog: start asking your horse to turn well in advance, so when you are trotting for one stride over X your horse knows already the next stride he will be turning on the opposite direction! And don’t forget to look where you are going.

Do this on both reins, so you will be riding A-F-X-M-C and C-M-X-F-A.

Once you have established a good line and you and your horse are both confident with the exercise, you can progress to canter.

Ride the line trying to keep your horse on the same canter lead. You will need to support your horse with your outside leg especially if your horse’s counter canter is not well established.  As you are approaching X you should move your outside leg back to able to support the canter, as well as keeping a good inside flexion, supporting the outside shoulder with your outside rein.

DISTANCE  to be measured between the two poles, following the curved line.  Distance will vary, depending on the size of your school and the stride of the horse, this exercise is not about riding a set number of strides but more about finding a number of strides that is comfortable for your horse.

Always keep in mind STRAIGHTNESS and a GOOD QUALITY CANTER. As soon as you start riding this exercise in canter, keeping all the above in mind, count a number of strides that is regular and consistent and try to stick to it. The two poles can be adjusted to accommodate your horse’s stride, ideally by rolling them IN towards X.

The more time/number of strides in between the 2 poles, the easier the exercise.

Progression: You can use the same pole exercise to help your horse practicing flying changes, but only if your horse has established flying changes already!

Remember as always, if the exercise is not executed correctly it will not be as beneficial for your horse. You must keep your horse VERY STRAIGHT throughout it! Being straight means following stride after stride in an imaginary line that runs through the letters, without letting your horse fall in or drift out.


Follow ReadySupp on social media and via our newsletters for useful (and interesting) articles on nutrition, training, events and equestrian news from our experts. ReadySupp Co-Founder Didi Verdina is our ‘training’ expert, she continues to teach in her spare time, competes, and she is qualified to BHSI level (Italian equivalent). Visit our homepage to subscribe.

If you have any questions on equine supplements, and want to improve your horse’s health, performance, or attitude give our friendly team a call 01672 541 157 for advice. We won’t try and hard sell you anything – we promise.

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