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Intro To Ground Poles

Intro To Ground Poles

Learn about introducing your horse to ground poles!

Watch the Video Here or continue reading below!

Reasons To Use Ground Poles

Ground poles are a versatile tool used across various disciplines for multiple purposes. They help with spacing and jumping, encourage horses to look down for trails and obstacles, and can even break up the pace for gaited horses. Essentially, ground poles teach a horse to be more aware of where they’re placing their feet.

Introducing Thunder to Ground Poles

Meet Thunder, our most reactive horse in training. Today, in the video, we’ll show him ground poles for the first time. Before starting, I like to flex him since he just got cinched up. The key to ground poles, and any obstacle, is to approach them with a calm and methodical mindset.

The Approach to Ground Poles

Think of approaching ground poles like any other obstacle. As I approach, Thunder tends to veer off to the side. To correct this, I sit back, look up, and straighten him out over the poles. We’ll go over the poles, turn around, and go back over them again. Whether you have three ground poles or thirty, the goal is to have the horse willingly go where you direct.
These poles are made of PVC, which I prefer because they’re white and sound scary, making them more challenging for the horse. Thunder taps them at first, which is good for his initial learning. Using more solid materials like four-by-fours, landscaping timber, or railroad ties can make the horse more cautious about bumping into them.

The Horse Needs to Respect the Ground Poles

Respecting ground poles is similar to respecting jumps. PVC poles are forgiving if bumped, but solid wood jumps teach horses to avoid contact. Cross-country eventers and fox hunters use solid jumps, so their horses learn to navigate carefully. Thunder is starting to look down and think about his steps, which is our goal.


In western pleasure trail classes, horses can walk, trot, and canter through poles without touching them, showcasing their awareness. This level of skill comes from practicing with solid poles at home. Horses learn to respect the poles and watch their footing.

Conclusion on Using Ground Poles

When introducing ground poles, treat them like an obstacle. Sit back, keep your heels down and forward, give the horse the reins, and only apply pressure if they balk. With this approach, your horse will quickly accept ground poles and be able to use them effectively for jumping, obstacles, or gaiting. There are numerous benefits to incorporating ground poles into your training.

 

Check out more free training resources HERE!

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Meet The Author: Michael Gascon!

I'm a 5th-generation, world-renowned horse trainer. My training methods have given tens-of-thousands of people a direct, no B.S. guide to training their horse to create more confidence, more fulfillment, and more enjoyable times with their four-legged friends.

As riders, we all want our horses to achieve their potential, but many people struggle with the process to get there.

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