HomePony Know HowRiding TipsJumpingThree of our fave polework exercises

Three of our fave polework exercises

Posted in Jumping

Polework is a fab way to improve your jumping skills without even leaving the ground! Here are three of our fave polework exercises for you to try

Trotting poles riding exercise

1. Trotting poles

Trotting poles help improve the way your pony moves, as they make him more aware of where he’s putting his hooves and how he’s using his legs, keeping him focused and creating impulsion.

Set up four poles four pigeon steps (about 1-1.35 metres) apart. If your pony is naturally long- or short-striding, you may need to adjust them to be slightly further apart or closer together.

Ride over the middle of the poles in working trot. Your pony will make more exaggerated strides than usual, so be prepared for it to feel bouncier than his normal trot.

Try not to let your pony rush through the poles – half-halt as you approach to keep him balanced and listening to you.

Rider approaching trotting poles

How it helps your jumping

It encourages you to ride straight to the middle of a fence, improving your accuracy.


  • Remember to repeat these exercises on both reins.
  • Ask a friend to help you on the ground. They can adjust the poles if your pony knocks a pole out of place.
  • Use the stripes on the poles to guide you to the middle.

2. Raised poles

Raised poles encourage your pony to pick his legs up and push from his hindquarters, rather than falling onto the forehand, but only if you don’t let him rush through the exercise!

Using blocks, raise one end of each pole on alternate sides. Ride just as you did for the trotting poles, keeping your legs wrapped around your pony’s sides, and soften your hands to allow him to stretch out through the exercise.

Don’t worry if he knocks any poles, just replace them and come again. Relax and stay quiet in your seat – he’ll soon get the hang of it!

Raised pole work exercise

How it helps your jumping

It improves your pony’s strength and impulsion, as well as improving your balance.


Start by just raising two alternate poles. Once your pony understands the question, you can raise the other two poles.

3. Going in circles

This exercise helps improve your accuracy, as well as encouraging your pony to stay supple and bend around your inside leg.

Set up four poles on a 20-metre circle at each point of the compass. Starting in walk, ride a circle over the poles, aiming to meet each one in the middle. When you’re confident, try it in trot – it’s harder than it sounds!

Keep your inside leg on your pony’s side to encourage him to bend through his body and squeeze your outside rein to stop him falling out through his shoulder.

Laying out trotting poles on a circle diagram

How it helps your jumping 

It improves your accuracy and your pony’s suppleness, making it easier to jump a course.


  • As you ride over each pole, make sure you’re looking round the corner to the next one.
  • Once you’ve mastered this in trot, you can try it in canter. Aim to get the same number of strides between each pole to make sure you’re riding a balanced, rhythmical canter.
  • Mix up this exercise by trotting outside the poles, then riding a 10-metre circle around each one as you ride past.

Are you ready for the next step? Why not try some gridwork exercises.

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