Open Squares, a great exercise to help improve accuracy on straightness and turning.
Number of poles required
I find the best way to set this exercise up is to start with two parallel poles on the center line at “X”, spacing them five heel to toe steps apart.
Lay poles 3 and 4 on a 90 degree angle at the end of pole 1 & 2, facing “E” and “B”
Place poles 5 and 6 parallel to poles 3 and 4 still facing “E” and “B” spacing them five heel to toe steps apart.
Lay poles 7 and 8 on the middle end of poles 5 and 6 on the center line at a 90 degree, spacing them five heel to toe steps apart.
Walk or trot through the parallel poles facing “B” & “E”, using them to change the rein as part of a two loop serpentine or, as center line practice from “A” to “C
Canter through the “E” and “B” parallel poles using simple changes within a figure of eight.
Use the parallel poles as trotting poles. Ride straight over the first set towards “E”, turn right away from the layout and loop back to the next set of parallel poles towards “A” – after “A” turn left away from the layout and loop back to the next set of parallel poles towards the “E” side of the arena. Carry on the same sequence until all four sets of parallel poles have been ridden across.
Walk & Trot circles – From “A” ride the center line to the half way mark of the layout, turn right towards “B” and back around to the “A” point. You can use this on any part of the layout on both reins to create 10m circles, this is just for explanation purposes.
Trot diagonally across the middle of the sequence.
Personal summary: I really enjoy this polework layout as it offers lots of different options for pace, direction and straightness. Suitable for younger horses as well as more the more established depending on how you use it. I find this layout helps me to keep Charlie a little straighter whilst we are still working on being less wobbly and falling out through the shoulder at times. After using this layout to warm up, for us personally I found it improved his canter transitions because I had more control of his shoulders where he was a little more straight. He really powered over the trotting poles, seeking the contact and engaging his hocks too which in turn helped him to lift up through his back into a lovely soft contact.
What Charlie is wearing:
3D Air Mesh Fly Veil – helping to relieve Charlie of flies around his ears which causes him to be a little unsettled but keeping him cool and comfortable at the same time. These are beautifully shaped, the fit is perfect on him. The ears are made of a light stretchy material which doesn’t restrict ear movement whilst the main part of the fly veil itself is made of a 3D mesh material which allows constant airflow.
What we are working with:
The MDC Stirrups have a generously wide foot bed with metal tread which offers in saddle security as well as comfort through my ankles and knees. I love the adjustable top which allows them to fold away neatly against the saddle when not in use, but allows a 90 degree angle change so that they face forwards when in the saddle. I have been using these since 2017 and wouldn’t choose to ride in anything else. I have written a full review on my website about these because I’ve found them to be so beneficial to me as a rider. I ride for hours between both horses on a weekend and always feel comfortable after riding where I feel they relieve me of any stiffness.
What I’m wearing:
Kerrits Ice-Fil Technical tight in Ink – This brand never fail to provide ultimate comfort in and out of the saddle! Flattering, comfortable, stylish with two perfectly positioned side pockets. Full seat gel grip that line the inner leg and provide a great feeling of added security in the saddle without being restrictive. The Ice Fil® fabric cools your skin keeping you comfortable at all times, keeping their shape. They wash well and dry naturally quick.
Article written by Kirsty Pearce, Equispire on behalf of The Comfy Horse Company