Trotting Poles- Help Needed! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-02-2011, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Question Trotting Poles- Help Needed!

I wasn't sure I should post this on "jumping" because ground poles don't really count lol... anyway here's my question. I am a REAl BEGINNER. And I mean real, I can't get over anything larger than an x rail. So at my stable's schooling show this weekend, i'm in the trotting pole class.

The only problem is, I don't own a horse and I recently changed school horses. My old school horse (Scout) made me feel completely secure and we got a good place together at our last show. But now I have a new horse (Jamaica) who has a bad habit of tripping BIG over poles. That almost launched me last time I rode him, and I also think that tripping over poles is not the best thing to do in a hunter course. Even though i plan to keep riding him, I would really like to show on Scout. I tried to bring it up to my instructor before, but she said that I am too experienced for Scout now. Should I BEG for Scout or just figure out a way to cancel the tripping? I know my instructor well enough to know that she would give me Scout if i really asked, but would it be bad for my progress? I just feel that I would do better and feel MUCH safer on Scout than Jamaica.

Also, regardless of which horse I get, how do you stop tripping/touching of ground poles? I know its probably obvious but I just can't figure it out...

And just remember that yes these are school horses and I am only riding once this week before the show, so long-term answers are fine but won't help me about the show.

Call me a chicken, call me a coward, just don't call me battered up from a horse fall.

Last edited by Stella; 02-02-2011 at 09:56 PM.
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-03-2011, 04:03 PM
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Not to be rude or anything, *Blush* just to help. Sometimes it's the riders fault. Your probably not squeezing and giving her enough encouragement. Whenever she goes over a pole, SQUUUEEZE. Hope this helps :)

If your horse says no, you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong.* ~Pat Parelli
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-03-2011, 04:42 PM
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I really don't think that "SQUEEEZE"ing will help when it comes to trotting poles xDDD

Stella, most of the answers that I can give you ARE long term. However, it probably has a lot to do with your experience and your horse's experience over jumps. Do you know if Jamaica jumps regularely? She most likely hasn't been correctly schooled to jump, even if she is a 'school horse.' Most instructors figure that if the horse can get over the jump, they're good enough. Ofcourse, you can't fix anything if that IS the problem since you're fairly new to riding. Check with your instructor to see what Jamaica regularely does.

As for you, what you can do is limited to how much you've been taught. How much has your instructor worked with you in collection? (I'm going to hope atleast a bit if she's expecting you to trot poles in a hunters class. o.o) If you do know how to collect your horse, what you need to think about is how long your horse's stride is, and how long it needs to be to get over the poles nicely. (with each foot landing right between the poles) If she's over reaching, you need to pull her in a bit to make her strides shorter and her body rounder. If she's under reaching, you need to urger her into a longer stride. (NOT a faster one, a LONGER one.)

Another possibility is that Jamaica just isn't paying attention. In that case, it's your job to keep her alert and awake. Wake her up before you do your poles with some figure eights, backing up, trotting circles, etc. Once she's listening and bending for you really well, start your poles. She needs to be watching where she steps and moving at a lively gait to sucessfully not only get over the poles, but look nice when you're doing it in the ring with a judge. Instead of going 'oh..poles. *thunk thunk thunk*' she should have a brisk 'oh hey! I know how to do those!' attitude.

I hope this helped, and if you dont know what I mean in what I've written, just tell me and I'll try to explain =] if none of this works- I'd say you should ask your instructor to switch horses atleast for the time being. NOT to Scout again; mind you- if he provides no challenge that you really shouldn't be riding him any more for lessons, but to one that possibly can judge for itself how long his or her strides should be, atleast until you understand the fundamentals. Then you can go back to Jamaica and try to get HER to do it!

Good luck!

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post #4 of 10 Old 02-03-2011, 10:44 PM
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A nice marching rhythm helps. When you start trotting, think of a good song with a tempo that matches your horse's trot and try to maintain that tempo by posting to the song. Even with ground poles, your horse needs and is looking for direction from you. Just march your horse up there like you mean it! Have fun.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-04-2011, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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ok thanks everyone! very helpful. It turns out I am actually riding Scout (I went with the begging lol) but I will use this in every lesson and show to come.

Call me a chicken, call me a coward, just don't call me battered up from a horse fall.
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-05-2011, 04:52 PM
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Just remember, you're only going to get better if you test your limits =] and that will mean getting on a less experienced- or less easy going horse.

Everyone in your life is meant to
be in your journey, but not all of
them are meant to stay till the end.
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post #7 of 10 Old 02-06-2011, 03:10 PM
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I just wanted to add, I learned how to ride on horses that were actually TOO difficult for me. (Please don't say that's unsafe. I learned to ride over 9 years ago, and I'm just fine :) I got dumped an awful lot, but by riding challenging horses I became a MUCH better rider. Now, I can get on just about anything and I know that for the most part I'll be perfectly fine with whatever the horse does.

So my point is, I would suggest you stop riding Scout if he's no longer a challenge to you. It's always good to ride a horse you feel safe and comfortable on, but if you never step out of your comfort zone, you'll never make much progress. So I'd definitely continue riding the other horse, because then you can work on trusting a different horse :)

I'm not sure if the trot poles are still an issue, but you could try a light tap with a crop. Obviously, don't use a crop if the horse will take that to mean go! but typically school horses are lazy ;) My mare doesn't pay any attention to where she puts her feet, so (if she's actually having a good day, and isn't flying around the ring and ripping my arms out of the sockets) I'll use a crop when we do poles. A couple strides before the first pole I'll give her a little tap on the shoulder. Not enough that she takes it to mean go faster, but just so she wakes up a little and realizes theres poles in front of her and she actually has to step OVER them! Haha. So that's always an option- if your trainer thinks that's a good idea of course. Good luck

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post #8 of 10 Old 02-06-2011, 03:26 PM
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I completely agree! One more thing.

I've never had formal lessons even though I now teach them (ironic, I know) so I had to teach myself. I did that by hopping on any available horse and riding! Sometimes I would get a horse that was so slow that you could swear that a turtle could outrun you, another day I'd be riding a fresh OTTB and be hanging on for dear life. I went from retired reining horses to hunters to old school horses from week to week, and although it was hard for me adjust at first with each new horse- I have NO doubt that they are the reason I can ride as well as I do with no training. I just now began lessons and was put straight into the advanced class because of those guys. Instructors are important to help you not take up bad habits, but the horse has a whole lot to do with your riding ability too. My new instructor's definition of riding is "you aren't a real rider if you can't hop on any horse and ride like you've known the animal all of your life" and I 100% back that up! Infact, I've even gotten the extreme pleasure of being the 'trainer' for a OTTB mare who happens to be Secretariat's granddaughter. Its amazing what you can do when you don't just go back to the easy horses because they 'feel better.'

Everyone in your life is meant to
be in your journey, but not all of
them are meant to stay till the end.
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-18-2011, 10:28 PM
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Just encourage your horse to move a little bit faster at the trot. Practice this in lessons by posting a little bit higher than normal which will ask your horse to pick up his feet. Hope this helps =]
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-09-2011, 07:56 PM
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Yupp the better paced the trot the easier it is to get over those poles. For my horse Lamia we had the same problem. I learned that if you squeeze just to give your horse encouragement it helps. But definitely find a good strong rhythm in your trot and that will probably help you the most.

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