Walk is an important part of any warm up with your horse. It’s generally recommended that we spend 10-20 minutes at the beginning of a ride letting the horse slowly start moving. Walk increases circulation bringing oxygen and nutrients to muscles, flushing wastes, stimulating synovial fluids and heating all the tissues. As tissues warm they become more elastic and able to resist tears. Think of a gummy worm – it’s easy to tear a cold one in half and easy to stretch a warm one. Warming up also activates the cool down mechanisms so your horse doesn’t over heat during work.
2 Poles placed at right angles are a great way to make optimal use of your walk warm up. They offer a low concussion activity that builds skills and suppleness while the body warms up and prepares itself for more intense exercise.
Right Angle Poles;
Gently introduce a wider range of motion to joints, muscles and connective tissues.
Improve proprioception by asking the horse to be aware of foot and body placement and to plan ahead where to place them.
Activate the small muscles of the horse’s back and the core stabilizers. A recent study performed at the University of Tennessee proved that ground poles at the walk increase muscle activity in the major back muscles and the abdominal muscles. Ground poles at the trot increase muscle activity of the abdominal muscles. This confirms that cavaletti poles will increase strength and stability of the topline and abdominal muscles.
Right angle poles require a longer, higher step and the ability to control the timing of the swing from all 4 legs and the barrel.
Challenge straightness and even sidedness by riding a straight line across obstacles 3 different ways – straight across the point either direction or across the angle (Videos in comments) This is an old Eventing challenge, but has benefits for any horse. It can be adapted and built up into trot or small jumps as the horse becomes educated. Some Hunter trainers use them to develop lead changes in canter.
Supple shoulder sling, ribs, lumbar, SI and hips both longitudinally and laterally.
Engage horse mentally, develops focus.
Connect horse and rider to seat and leg aids.
Supple Your Horses’ SI, Lumbar and Shoulder Girdle
Improve ride-ability and control of shoulders.
*there are a number of contraindications for pole work. Please consult your Vet before you introduce it to your horse.