Equine Overload’s Weekly Exercise: Using V Poles
For this edition of Equine Overload’s Weekly Exercises, I’d like to cover a simple training aid that can improve your jumping: V poles. These are regular jumping rails that are placed on a jump in a wide or narrow V shape. Let’s look at how using V poles can benefit your horse.
Version One: Wide V
Using wide-set V poles is a great place to start for a horse that is new to jumping. I also use these for my horse, who likes to duck out of a jump last minute. The poles create a makeshift runway for the horse that guides him towards the jump. They also help with horses who may be spooky or try to avoid the jump. By acting as a barrier, they discourage horses from ducking around the side of the jump. This barrier also helps keep your horse more centered if they tend to drift towards the edges.
While this wide setup is great for nervous or stubborn horses who avoid jumps by ducking around them, this will not help horses who refuse a jump by stopping. Keep an eye out for future Weekly Exercise posts that will talk about how to prevent a horse from stopping at a jump!
Version Two: Narrow V
Narrow V poles are great for balance and straightness during the approach and liftoff of the jump. By placing them in the center of the jump you narrow the barriers. This makes it so the horse must jump in the center and act as a visual guide for the rider. I like to use this setup when I want to focus more on my jumping position or my horse’s balance. By making sure the horse jumps center, the added pressure of aiming at the jump is taken off, and you can focus more on the form.
If your horse tends to stop right before the jump, then this configuration may not be best for you. Nervous horses may see this narrow channel as too much pressure and will slam on the breaks. If you find that your horse gets nervous about the close poles or outright refuses them try moving to a wide-set configuration to encourage confidence first.
Have you given these poles a try? Let us know in the comments how they worked out! Want to keep track of your riding while making progress towards your goals? Then check out our Ultimate Horse Training Log! It is packed full of customizable pages to help you set your goals, map your progress, and improve your riding.
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