Wednesday, December 14, 2016

ground poles: yer doin' it wrong

Wow we've been talking an awful lot about dressage lately, huh. Kinda dense stuff, and probably not the most riveting lol. It's cool tho, I promise it won't always be like this!!

We're just busy preparing for a dressage clinic this coming weekend and I'm just SO EXCITED OMG. Of course the weather looks mighty questionable.... but I'm staying optimistic.

finally got around to attaching these wings on Charlie's bridle!!! thanks Amelia!!!
Anyway tho. For everyone's combined sanity (and especially for Mr Charlie), I have been trying to keep things interesting by doing a little bit of 'jump' work too. Sorta lol. We haven't really jumped much since the last lesson at OF. Bc let's be honest, we kinda need a jump crew at this particular point in time.

Charlie isn't exactly what you would call 'allergic to wood' haha. Hahaha.

see the red and brown paint transfer on his feet? charlie. pick your feet UP buddy.  
But there happened to be a lesson-free hour in the indoor, and a barn mate wanted to set up ground poles. So what the hell, right? I added a couple cross rails to her ground pole grid and let Charlie have a good old time with it all.

tried to take a panorama shot. it.... really doesn't work well for straight lines lol
So Charlie got to trot all sorts of fun ground poles (and trip all over them haha). He also cantered two ground poles in a row for the first time -  in a going three strides. The turn up to the poles was pretty hard tho, and basically impossible on the right lead. Strengthening that hind end is just going to take time, I guess!

same exercise, but without the pano warp haha. each blue line shows a different path through the grid. you could also get fancy and slice the poles by traveling on a diagonal path.
It's cool tho. I like doing this type of work with Charlie for two reasons: he gets way more excited about going forward when there are poles involved, and it's a great way to help him build more strength behind. Even if he has to hit every ground pole with every hoof.

older pic, but i can't wait to do more of this soon!!
We popped over the two little cross rails a couple times each too. I had been clever and added about a zillion poles to each (a la trainer P from OF) to encourage him to pick his feet up. He still clobbered them a couple times but never knocked anything completely down.

nose smooches!!
He's just so fun to jump - and definitely seems to understand and enjoy the game. Holidays and other schedules are really messing with our ability to get out for more jump lessons this month.... but hopefully soon. Or maybe we'll just have to keep setting stuff up at home.

Do you have favorite ground pole / cavaletti / grid type exercises or patterns? How do you like to introduce horses to jumping? And what do you do to teach them to pick up their damn feet haha? Or do you just like to let them sort it out for themselves?

36 comments:

  1. We generally let them figure out where they need to pick up their feet (eventually) - ground poles are great

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    1. Ha yea my trainers tend to share that philosophy too

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  2. Have you considered yet that he thinks the paint complements his hoof colour? Lol. I mean horses do get Mani/pedis but do we ever give them a seasonal coloured polish? Lol :p

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    1. Lol that must be it!! I smell a scientific experiment coming on, with multi colored poles set out all over the place so we can determine is favorite colors and such. Maybe he picks his feet up over greens, but can't resist a pretty red paint transfer?!?

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  3. I'm a big fan of letting them figure it out themselves. That being said I cant handle William walking over poles. He steps on them, trips over them (went onto his knees once) and generally flails through. His complete inability to walk over a simple pole baffles me. Trotting he's perfect, no matter the spacing between poles. Cantering poles is no big deal. But walking is a recipe for disaster!

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    1. haha maybe william and charlie are brothers from another mother. charlie's pretty fantastic at cantering the poles, usually ok at trotting them (tho with some degree of clobbering obvi), but really just has to hit every pole with every hoof while walking. "baffling" indeed!

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  4. I think that they figure their feet out with time and strength. I adore ground poles. I like the exercises that have poles on a bend because it really helps to keep them balanced through turns. I also like the ones that have different sides of the poles lifted.

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    1. oooh yea both bending and raised poles sound great! the bending exercises might need a little time bc i'm not totally sure he's strong enough yet (turning and poles are each individually enough of a challenge haha!) and we'll probably need a ground crew for anything raised since he's 100% guaranteed to knock that shit over. but it's definitely in our future!

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  5. I love poles and grids because you CAN let the horse figure out how to use all those legs without fear of death over an actual jump! Such a great tool to get them thinking and to get the rider to stop meddling. Not that I meddle or anything... ;)

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    1. hahaha my thoughts exactly!! half the battle is just getting myself out of the way anyway!

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  6. Poles are great! If you can gradually add more that's even better. 3, then 5, 7, etc. On Instagram, and I'm sure YouTube, you can find Europeans who do giant exercises with poles. Like a pole course.

    Perhaps think about maybe getting off forehand more than picking up feet. If there front end is lighter, the hooves can move better/quicker.

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    1. lol yup i just like to ask what you all like to do personally, your favorite exercises and what's worked for your horses. charlie's whole 'lightness in the front end' issue is a topic entirely unto itself (as evidenced by the many many (omg so many) words dedicated to it in the previous two posts)

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  7. Yeah, totally using this over the winter.

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  8. I've been dragging lines of poles out once a week for the past few weeks for Bobby. It helps keep his winter hamster brain happy. Also that paint diagram is A+

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    1. haha i have this weird fascination with diagramming courses and exercises in MS Paint. so much so that there's an entire label dedicated to them lol

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  9. Back in my eventing days, the little friesian I evented didn't figure out picking up his hind legs over stadium fences until after he'd had a few cross country schools. A couple good rubs on jumps that didn't come down and his little back feet tightened right up!

    I gotta get more creative with my pole exercises with TC, though we're only walking over them at this point. I'll be taking a leaf out of your book and doing more of that!

    And gah, Charlie is so handsome! I can't wait to see what you guys do this year!

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    1. haha yea i definitely see some of those rubs in charlie's future!!! hopefully we can build a little more balance first so that said rubs don't send us ass over teakettle!!!! and thanks, i may be biased but i think he's friggin adorable ;)

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  10. There's a cool exercise I learned at a clinic, but I'm not sure I can describe it perfectly without a picture, but you set up a series of poles at 90 degree angles to each other - each corner touching - in a zigzag. Then you can circle around over the poles making various pole/circle combinations, changing directions, etc, and you can also go down the line trying to center through the zigzag, which is fabulous for them having to figure out their feet and you as a ride having to keep them straight.

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    1. ooooh yes i've seen that! and jumped variations of it too, tho not as ground poles.

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  11. I love the dressage stuff! Although I also love vicariously living through all the jumpers/hunters/eventers too because I like keeping my feet on the ground. :)

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    1. ha yea i like it both a lot ;) it's been forever since i've done any real jumping tho and i'm really hoping that charlie and i get into a good groove with it!

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  12. That's a cool poles exercise. I've found Zeph is more forward & better about picking up his feet over logs out of the arena.

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    1. yea for some reason logs just seem to make more sense to horses, which i guess is understandable haha. alas, we don't have many options for fallen logs in our overly-manicured and landscaped fields haha. maybe soon!

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  13. Sounds like a good gameplan. I love groundpoles! I think they really help horses when they are nw to approaching jumos. And I can't tell you how many times Georgie's feet have looked the same way....

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    1. ha yea isabel was known to do a little finger painting too.... and my trainer agrees with you about helping horses sort out the whole thing, she always sets trot poles on the way to every fence for a greenie

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  14. It took me a minute to figure out your diagram because at first I thought you had drawn a perspective shot of a line of three jumps. I was so impressed with your creativity haha but then I figured it out and was equally impressed as that's such a neat pole setup!

    Oscar is the ultimate lazy with his feet over poles, and sadly has figured out which jumps roll and which don't. So he's fine over solid fences but doesn't put the effort in over poles *unless* I get the right canter and maintain it. Then he's super tidy. I'm not much help with suggestions, but I guess Charlie will improve naturally as he gets stronger and more aware of where his long TB legs are! Perhaps swedish oxers and those kinds of 'busy' looking jumps will encourage him to pick up but I may be getting ahead of myself with suggestions if you're focusing on poles at the moment! Not sure where you're up to and that will teach me for being out of touch for so long.. off to catch up now! :D

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    1. ha omg i totally see what you mean about the perspective thing! but no that's totally unintentional, it's just an aerial view of poles on the ground.

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  15. Somehow Miles' feet look like that too, except he's WEARING BELL BOOTS...

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  16. ooo I like that exercise. I think I will pin it for future reference :D

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  17. Still laughing about the panoramic not-straight line. Charlie sounds like Griffin about jumping exercises. SO EXCITED haha. I bet he'd like my friend's trainer who is somewhere between DC and Manassass and gives a lot of her dressage lessons with beaucoup de ground poles and cavaletti. Forward because "yay poles" AND dressage. Charlie's dream? Or maybe your secret weapon?

    If you wanna build his booty strength and make it big (then finesse it with dressage-based work later), find some hills to do sets on. Great way to provide some ass mass. Trot sets, canter sets, or gallop sets to your liking.

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  18. I'm obsessed with this videos on FB of the insane ground pole exercises

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