PVC Poles vs Wood Poles
Long story short, my trainer recently moved barns.
At the old barn, we had a small arena with deep sand footing, and our poles for jumps were wood. She was leasing this barn, and the poles belonged to the owner, so when we left we obviously couldn't bring those.
Although the barn and property we moved to is worlds nicer than the old one, it didn't even have an arena to begin with, and no standards or poles. Fortunately, my trainer had had some standards made for us at the old barn that she owned, so we got to bring those, and we converted a nice square pasture into a grass arena. The poles she got are thick PVC pipes.
Recently, we had a long time boarder who is pretty close to our trainer leave. She went to a friend's private barn that our trainer also teaches at, so she didn't stop working with our trainer, she just didn't want to jump at our barn.
I had heard she left because she didn't like the PVC poles, and thought they were dangerous because they can be knocked down so easily and the horses could fall over them. Another rider also didn't want to jump our jumps for the same reason.
I'd never heard this, and I was hoping to get some different opinions/perspectives on it.
I haven't had a problem with them, yet, personally. My horse has knocked them a couple of times, and they have just fell straight down and not tripped her at all. I've seen some other riders in my lessons knock them too, without issue.
I can see some obvious pros and cons of both. But if a horse knocked a wooden pole, it could have just as much chance of tripping, and I'd almost say more chance versus the PVC because it doesn't fall down out of the way as easy?
The biggest complaints I've heard about PVC pipes are that because they're so light it doesn't teach the horse to avoid knocking into them, and they can shatter. Our barn has both wood and PVC poles, and I've had a PVC pole shatter when my horse stepped on it (was being used as a canter pole on the ground). It didn't hurt her, but the end of it where it shattered was pretty sharp so it certainly COULD have in slightly different circumstances.
I usually avoid using the PVC poles where my horse is likely to come into contact with them for that reason, though I'll use them on the ground below my jump (because I'm lazy and they're so much lighter than wood poles!)
I wouldn't use PVC poles, and tbh would probably leave a barn because of them, unless it was an outstanding facility. If they get stepped on they can shatter, and can cause some serious damage.
The barn that I originally boarded at was predominantly dressage, and they had a few jumps and a bunch of pvc poles. I've never been at all serious about jumping, but we messed around with some at the old barn and my horse didn't see any reason not to pick his feet up and not blow through the jumps. We moved to a barn later with wooden poles, and that was much less of an issue. He'll still hit them on occasion (especially if he's not moving forward enough) but when he does there is actually a deterrent instead of the poles just bouncing off of him.
I didn't think of the possibility of them shattering. Does make me a little nervous! I do always use boots on my horse, but that won't do much for the hoof and the fetlock down if the PVC cut her there.
This barn really is an outstanding facility, and my trainer is the best in the area - she's taken me farther than I thought I could go, and really understands me and my horse. In fact, aside from the private barn this boarder went to, there aren't any barns I'd even trust my horse at for a day in our area!
My trainer may intend to replace them with wood. She's not the type to put her students' horses and her horses at risk. She's funding all our supplies (stall mats, ect) out of pocket for the new barn, so it may just be a matter of money right now and she needs something temporary to continue her jumping lessons. I haven't really talked about it with her because I honestly didn't really think a lot of it, just made me curious about the differences.
Why would she waste her money buying pvc poles that are dangerous for your horses? That just doesn't make sense to me.
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Landscape timbers are pretty cheap and can be used as jump poles. My barn didn't have trot poles so I bought six and painted them white. Came out to less than $30.
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Well as usual I will go against the grain.
We have used PVC trot poles and poles for the cross bars on Jumps for almost 20 years, the uprights holding the cross poles are wood.
The PVC pipe we use is the thicker walled version.
The only time a PVC pipe was ever broken was when one of the kids got silly on the Tractor and ran over one of the poles.
End caps are available and to add weight fill them with sand. My poles are 2 x 4's, nailed them together with the sharp edges sanded down a bit. 2, 2x4's are usually cheaper than one 4 x 4.
Wood poles are better, but they're harder to find (around here anyway) so we got 2" PVC poles and they've been very sturdy and fine.
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