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pole bending help!!
Hi. My 14 year old tennessee walking horse gelding, Mosey, just started pole bending about a month ago. We're competing in the E-town fair this year, and he's really good running down the straights next to the poles, but whenever we turn right at the last pole, he slows down and doesn't turn quite as fast as he does going left. How can I teach him to go bend faster going right??
Also, he's not very good with lead changes in between the poles. He does a really quick trot and sometimes he slows down to a slow trot. How can I keep him going at the fast trot? And if possible, how can I teach him to switch leads at the canter??
Also, I have some more questions about my position. When we're weaving in and out of the poles, should I lean my body left and right or should I just stay balanced and don't move? Also, should I keep my rear off the saddle while we're weaving in and out? Or should I just post to his trot??
Someone please help asap!! Thanks 4 listening!
So my first bit of advice --> slow it down and go back to basics.
As I stated above, you shouldn't be galloping yet. He's not ready and clearly doesn't know the pattern well enough or know that he is supposed to collect himself for the turn. Any horse can run in a straight line no problem. But you need to take the time to slow down and properly teach him the turn around the end poles and the weaving.
If he turns better to the left, do the pattern to the left! You can do the pattern either way. However, it is always beneficial to work a horse on their weak side so they get better at it.
You teach him to switch leads AWAY from the pattern. Start by teaching a simple lead change. When he has mastered that (which may take several months) then you can try to teach a flying lead change, which you use in pole bending.
Instead of posting a lengthy description here, check out some links on how to teach lead changes.
Horse Training Articles : Teaching the lead change
Flying Lead Changes, Flying Lead Change, How to Change Leads
How to Teach Your Horse the Flying Lead Change | eHow.com
Lead Change when Horse Riding by Cherry Hill
A few videos on Lead Changes.
And there's oodles more information on it if you look.
Of course, you can also search for "Lead Changes" right here on HorseForum for lots of threads about that topic.
Also, your horse needs to know leg cues and respond to them. Most of pole bending is done with your legs and guidance, and the reins/hands only as an extra support.
I would highly recommend getting the book by Wayne Sandberg called "19 second Pole Bending". You can get it used and cheap on Amazon. If you really want the fundamentals behind pole bending, there's your source!!
Here's a couple great 19-second pole runs. Notice how quiet the riders are. You can see in the videos and 90% of the weaving involves leg cues to the horse, and just supporting them with your hands and the reins.
When weaving, your hips move the turn with the horse but your body stays parallel to the pole. If you lean too much, it could be causing your horse to lose his balance... thus explaining his loss of speed.
In addition, gaited horses aren't usually ideal for for gymkhana. I've done barrels with a Missouri Fox Trotter/Tennessee Walker mare and she's simply horrible... I've beat her on my AQH mare, walk-trotting the AQH. (There's a reason that almost all of the horses in the shows are Appendix, AQH, or Thoroughbred horses... I've not met anything but in gymkhana yet!)
Otherwise, do some research. When you're at a show, talk to the other riders. The "Rider Web" will be the best asset you will have. I've gotten more advice from barrel racers I've met at the livery than I have from articles and books. Personally, I have started by looking at articles. This gives me the "general idea," but nothing will prove better than talking to the riders themselves. I haven't met a rider yet who turned me down when I try to pick their brain and how they trained their horse for gymkhana.
I've found an interesting article about pole bending, and I suggest you check it out.
I'll conclude my post with this:
Just because you like it doesn't mean your horse will be good at it or enjoy it.
My mare has great turning and flex and would be amazing for poles, but she isn't good at them!
The biggest thing is to take your time. My mare isn't even cantering the barrel pattern yet; we just began to walk-trot. It doesn't come in a day and you won't see your horse galloping any 18-second pattern after just a month or two. Some "great" horses come with years of training, and many of the "winning" gymkhana horses are trained for gymkhana; not lessons, trails, dressage, etc. Gymkhana. They may go on fun trail rides and such, but the pattern is where the serious business is.
I've found an interesting article about pole bending, and I suggest you check it out. [QUOTE]
Great article! To the point, great visuals, great tips.
My mare and I love to play at pole bending.
oh thanks! but my horse and I aren't really out to win, we're just out there to have fun. And he's a really quick learner so that's good. Also, he doesn't even gait! Haha it's so weird....but he just won't....and he's really good at the keyhole though! Thanks!
Can you learn to play tennis perfectly in one day? NO.
Can you learn to get a hole-in-one in golf in the first week? NO.
Can you learn to make 50 free throws in a row for basketball on the first day of practice? NO.
So do not expect your horse to magically learn pole bending in one month, without you taking the time to train him.
Oh, well, I think he's doing really well actually. He just needs to learn to stay away from the last pole, instead of cutting it so close. But we'll keep practicing on bends and stuff like that. Thanks!
As some people have said, the best thing you can do in the beginning is lots and lots of slow work. Really try to get your horse moving off your feet and not your hands. If you are always relying on your hands, your run will be slower and choppier. In regards to leaning, you don't want to lean to the side and unbalance your horse, but especially when you start going faster later after you have the pattern down you want to be leaning forward, so your shoulders are over his shoulders. If you sit up straight, you will be behind your horse and will probably hit poles with your knees. However, when you are new to it (as it sounds like your horse is) it is most important to get the pattern down. If there is one place where he is always cutting in, make sure you use your FEET to make him really more away from it in practice, sometimes even farther away than you would want when you are competing. When he goes faster, he will naturally suck in tighter. Also, one last thing about leads: with my quarter horse, I didn't really spend a lot of time working on cuing him to switch leads. When we run, that is just something he does automatically. There is nowhere near enough time for you to be worrying about leads while you run. As some people have said, get him used to flying lead changes away from the poles and when you DO decide to start working him at the canter, he will probably figure it out for himself after a little while. It becomes comfortable and natural for the horse. If you are finding you are having a lot of trouble, slow down again and practice some more without the poles on getting him more responsive.
Oh, and beau159 : I like the the example of pole runs you posted. I like the first on better, even if her hands are a little high. She had a better entry and she wasn't on her horse's head as much as the second girl was. Great examples!
19 Second Pole Bending book
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