Raised canter poles change the footfalls of the canter, effectively separating the diagonal pair. This alteration causes your horse to rhythmically shift its weight between the fore and hind legs, creating a rocking motion.
Raised canter poles encourage your horse to:
✅ Round it’s back
✅ Increase flexion and extension of the lumbosacral junciton and hindlimb
✅ Strengthen and supple the back and hindquarters
✅ Strengthen the muscles involved in raising and supporting the forehand
✅ Recruits and tones the abdominal muscles, core stabilizers, hip flexors & the spinal flexor muscle chain.
✅ Improve balance, agility, coordination and spatial awareness
✅ Improve focus by asking the horse to look ahead at where its feet will go and to plan accordingly
✅ Improve horse and rider’s timing and balance
Your horse will breathe in rhythm with each stride/pole
*Cantering raised poles does increase the stress on your horse’s legs. If your horse has a history of lower limb soft tissue injury, or has very sensitive feet, please avoid this exercise.
Give your horse plenty of room to approach the poles.
Warmup in walk, trot, and canter over ground poles before adding in raised poles.
*Less is more with canter poles. Too much, or too much too soon, will sap confidence and make your horse sore and unhappy.
A Few Exercise Ideas
Place several single poles randomly around the arena and incorporate them into your flatwork sessions.
Try cantering a pole on a circle. If it goes really well, add a 2nd pole on the other side of the circle.
Work the poles into circles, serpentines and figure-eights. Try to keep your horse’s pace and rhythm the same as he approaches and travels over them.
Set up three poles 18 to 24 feet apart for a one-stride exercise, depending on your horse’s stride; it may help to start with the poles set at 20 feet and space them tighter or wider if needed.
Set up three poles 9 to 10 feet apart for a bounce exercise.
*There are contraindications for every exercise. Please consult your Vet before introducing this exercise to your horse…and while you’re at it ask – your Vet if massage could benefit your horse.