Trouble Shooting Your Walk- Using Placing Poles to Establish Your Walk

horse training, dressage training, horse riding, how to straighten your horse, laura Kelland-may, horse trainer canada, horse trainer ottawa

Make Your Horse Think Where His Hooves Are

Do you ever use poles to help your horse THINK where his feet are?


Most horses do not think they have big honking hooves at the end of their spindly legs. Help your horse out by educating him on where his feet are. Use placing poles to help establish a comfortable forward walk.


What the Judge Hates to See


As a senior judge, I have judged in the ‘trenches’ at schooling and training shows and at the other end of the spectrum as well and I can tell you, the first impression is a walk!


To improve your walk, get the horse moving forward. As the video says, they should be over tracking.


How to Improve The Walk


Walking aimlessly around doesn’t offer much to the horse. This just confirms in his mind he is doing the correct thing. Riding the walk is not a holiday! He must push forward and stride forward purposefully. Start by placing poles at various locations in your riding space. If you are riding on a circle place them at the 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions.  This gives you focus and gives the horse an opportunity to lift up his feet.




After the horse is walking over the poles quietly you can place them approximately 9 feet apart. So rather than having them at the 12, 3 and 6 position you can place them in a row, 9 feet apart. This is designed to help the horse get confidence over poles and to teach them how to pick up their feet.


Believe it or not, some horses do get anxious over a simple pole, so make sure you get the horse comfortable walking over poles before you set off on further jumping adventures.


Improve the Walk Even More


English: Muscles (part 2) of Equus Callibus (a...

Walking Over Poles Will Help Develop the Horse’s Muscles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you find you would like to improve the walk even more, give your horse more confidence and strengthen your horse, raise the poles slightly. Raising the poles offers the horse ample opportunity to raise his legs. This is often an over looked opportunity. Raising their hooves at a walk is similar to marching for us. It engages the muscles they require for jumping, dressage and other equestrian sports. Offering simple exercises which enhance the use of the leg lifting muscle and get it and keep it stronger for longer.












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About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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2 Responses to Trouble Shooting Your Walk- Using Placing Poles to Establish Your Walk

  1. zaribrown says:

    Make riding in 2-point part of your regular routine. You don’t have to be jumping to practice your jumping position. Some other exercises may be:Raising their hooves at a walk is similar to marching for us.

  2. Laura says:

    Thank you for making comments.
    I agree, riding 2-point is an excellent exercise to include in your everyday riding.
    Working over poles is a very good exercise for our horses to establish correct muscle development.


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