Barrelhorseluver1

Training A Pole Horse

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Ill be interested to hear what others have to say.

That being said a piece if advice from Charmayne James book on barrel racing is not to teach them lead changes (a relief to me since we're flunking at it). She argues that if you've got a balanced athletic horse and you're teaching him to go around the barrels on the proper lead he should pick up the lead change in his own, that having to signal a change could cost precious time. I would argue that the same could be said for poles. If your horse is athletic, balanced, and enjoys what he is doing then one the concept of poles is established the change should start to come naturally. Slow work at the trot and lope with simple changes, and making sure that you're shifting your weight accordingly.

My horse runs and okay pole pattern, and he does change leads in it, as well as in his barrel pattern. When I got him he had no concept of what lead I was asking him for, but he knew what lead he had to be on to stay balanced in the pattern. I've fiddled with teaching him changes, he'll get it one in ten right now I'm just flat work, but he nails them in the patterns when it counts.

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Horses, like people, tend to be right or left "handed" and prefer a particular lead. Therefore, horses often need to be taught how to canter in the opposite lead. This teaching should include strengthening and subtling exercises to make it easier for the horse to assume either lead with ease. Once this is accomplished, both horse and rider should automatically assume the correct lead depending on the direction of travel -- unless, of course, the rider wants the horse to assume a counter-lead for training purposes.

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Your link doesn't work. That said, I have several fabulous pole horses. I have never, ever taught them to "change leads" through the poles. What I teach them is body control.

Never trot until the walk is perfect. Never lope until the trot is perfect. Never run until the lope is perfect. This will take at least 6 months if you are training several times a week, longer if you have a normal person's life and can't get out there daily.

The biggest mistake most people make with poles is that they don't set their horse up properly for their end turns. You are so intent on weaving that you approach your last pole just like it's a normal weave pole, with it right next to your leg and your horse's body is straight.

When practicing especially, over exagerate setting your horse up for a pocket, using your inside leg and hand to get your horse round and ready to turn the pole. In practice you should be 6 feet away from your end pole on the approach, go 3 feet past the pole and then turn so that you leave said pole with your foot next to it ready to start weaving right off the bat.

Before ever putting a horse on a pole pattern I am 100% sure that they can and will move off my leg as much or as little as I ask them to at any gait. When I walk the pattern I exagerate my pockets, I exagerate my weaving. I use my pole side leg to push my horse 6-12 feet away from the poles. I switch to the opposite leg when my foot has passed the pole. By the mid point between the 2 poles my horse needs to be in the center of the pole line and by the time we are even with the next pole, she needs to be 6-12 foot away from the pole. Repeat.

This has to be easy and smooth at a walk, trot, lope before we run. When you run the horse gets tighter on all the poles, including the end poles. It is our job as a rider to set them up for that upcoming turn and help them through it.

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OK, I found the video on youtube.

Exactly what I said is what happened. You did not set him up or help him through the turn. Going into the turn he was too close, his body was thrown towards the pole, his head pulled away from the pole. When you tried to muscle him around the pole you pulled your outside hand and rein across his neck forcing his head even more to the outside making it impossible for him to turn.

He looks like he'd do great with some training and some good riding on him. Take him home and show him what you want him to do, the correct way.

Here's a great video of one of my mares with a youth rider. Watch before each end pole you see her set her up, take an extra hand and leg over cue to get the mare's body in position to turn, then uses more inside hand than outside during the turn so the mare can get "round" in her body while turning.

Edited by SpottedTApps

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So i took him to town tonight and worked great it wasnt his leads that was the issue it was my hands. I was manhandleing him around the poles. Got on him tonight though after going to the rodeo accademy for 4 months my rideing has changed hugely! He did

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Barrelhorseluver1, I am pleased to hear you figured out the problem. When teaching riding, I try to help my students understand that yanking and pulling sets up resistance in their horses. Pulling the reins too far in one direction forces the horse's nose to the other direction. Relaxation, not stress, is the key to good performance. With relaxation, the joints are loose and muscles are plyable -- ready to do what needs to be done. This is true for both the horse and the rider. The problem is that all this is often forgotten in the heat of competition.

SpttedTApps, I really appreciated your comments and your approach to training.

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Thanks TX, that's nice of you. I strive for a humane, sane approach to happy, healthy, talented horses. And just when I think I've got it, I learn something new! lol

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Well, any athlete horse will change leads at speed and change of direction,- often called a 'cowboy lead change by many', versus actually teaching a horse flying changes done on cue, ,indenpent of direction, the type put on reiners and western riding horses

Horses change leads all the time out in the pasture at speed. Run them fast enough, change direction, and they change leads as self preservation, but that is way different than teaching flying changes on cue, so the horse changes anywhere, including astraight line

The horse I used in pole bending, and who won a Canadian National ApHCC title in pole bending, I first used in reining and western riding, so he had lots of body control and excellent flying changes

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I went to a 4H gymcana where they let the adults piddle around on each event. I had never done poles before.....but I could feel my horse switching leads on each pole DESPITE the rider on her back.

We didn't break any speed records, but I tell ya, it was worth the price of admission just to feel that millisecond pause to switch.

It was really a ephiphany for me because previously when messing around in an arena or warming up for penning, I couldn't get her to switch into the one lead for LOVE NOR MONEY ! Case in point where - the rider.........moi - was over thinking - was too tense - whatever. Getting in the horse's way........

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A horse would have to be super athletic to pole bend at the gallop and not switch leads!

More likely he would either break or fall down!

First time I ran poles was at an ApHCC show, against some pretty good games horses. I had to ask the pattern from fellow competitors before running the various gaming patterns ( I got sucked into running games, which I had never done, going for hi-pt )

Didn't win , but was right behind those guys that ran games all the time.

That was the same weekend that I was also talked into trying steer daubbing, even though my horse had never been in a box. My 'friends ' made me go first, thus I had that pole lowered out beside my horse.. She came out of the boxing, running sideways , away from that pole.! I did hit the bulls eye finally at the far side of the arena. I then watched my friends, , hold that pole up in the air and only lower it when they got close to where they could touch that bulls eye on the cow!

We used to have some fun at those regional shows, instead of being super serious, thus, when Frank had his turn at trail, he had a horse turd un expectantly in the mailbox!

Doesn't happen anymore-people are too serious about points!

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I would highly suggest getting Marlene Eddleman's DVD on pole bending, as well as the book: 19 second pole bending by Wayne Sandberg. Both are very helpful when training a pole bending horse.

There are several things I like my horses to be able to do, before they ever see a barrel or a pole for training

--walk, trot, and canter on a loose rein and relaxed

--be soft in the bridle and be able to break at the poll

--stop softly from any gait

--simple lead changes and flying lead changes

--can sidepass, and independently move the hindquarters and shoulders

--bend and counterbend

--can make "perfect circles" on their own, with only one rein from the rider

Basically, I want to be able to control any part of my horse's body at any time at any speed. And the perfect circles are essential to teach them to use their hind end, keep it engaged, and teach them to be responsible for their own body position. I like my horses to learn to manage things on their own, with little to no help from me.

Also, before any horse sees the pattern, I'm am going to have them routinely checked by the vet for soundness and health, by the dentist for teeth, and by the chiro for any back/spine issues.

For both the poles and barrels, you don't have to do the pattern over and over and over to work on the fundamentals you need. Lots of circles, drills, and different pattern exercises keep the horse's mind fresh and keeps them from getting soured by doing the same exact thing every time.

Now specifically for the poles, I want to make sure they have a large pocket for that first turn; especially in young horses. As they add speed, that turn will naturally suck in closer, and I don't want a knocked end pole. I train my horses to rate and turn when I sit my weight deep into the saddle. And since I have already taught them perfect circles, I will use one hand on a direct rein for the end pole, and balance myself with my outside hand holding on the saddle horn. I will do this even at the walk, because I want to stay 100% consistent in my cues for the day when I am going full speed (then my cues will not have changed and the horse is not confused).

When you begin weaving the poles, I like to sidepass them laterally between each pole. While I will NOT cue the horse for a flying lead change, I have already taught them flying lead changes. I know that they have the muscle strength to balance on both leads and I know they are capable physically of doing a flying lead change. If I have taught them all the steps before starting the pattern, they will pick it up naturally. So let's say that we have already turned the 1st end pole to the left. As we approach the first pole to weave, I tip my horses nose to the right, and use my "inside" right leg to create a bend in the horse and move them to the left. When my knee lines up with the pole (on my right side) I ask the horse to bend the opposite way. I also over-exagerate the lateral movement by moving them father laterally than they actually go. This reinforces that lateral movement. And by using my legs in training, it will automatically cue for the lead change when we progress to a lope.

Again, your middle-of-the-run end pole should be different than you're weaving. I am making sure my horse has a good-sized pocket going into the turn. I sit deep in the saddle to cue my horse to rate and turn. And I am using only one hand on the reins, balancing myself with my outside hand on the saddle horn, since I have already taught my horse to do a perfect circle on their own. And then you weave back, making sure to sidepass through the poles.

Perfect the walk. Then move onto the trot. Perfect the trot. Then move onto the lope. Perfect the lope. Then add speed.

Keep in mind it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to make a finished pole bending horse, depending on the fundamentals the horse starts with.

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And I am very glad to see, barrelhorseluver, that you have a much better attitude about taking advice and taking critiques (than you did on the other forum that got you banned). I really am glad to see that.

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Great Info all!

I have been working on flying lead changes ( Trey is rusty from not working this on him for a very long time, but he knows it not to be a 'new' lesson).

I have been playing with cones in the arena set apart to lope casually and lead change.

We have been going thru it so much now that today...i turned him out to play and was running around with him in the arena.

He took a turn and was in the wrong lead...I said (like I do in saddle) swiiii-iitch ( voice goes low to high) and

He switched leads!!

I am sure it was a coincidence but I like having a horse that goes into correct leads naturally.

Now, I have to work on Tonto. This is the horse that has no problem if he NEVER catches a lead...at least he thinks so.

He is RUFF!

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You guys want to see a speed demon? There is a video of my mule and i doing barrels and poles floating around somewhere! I tell you we flew! We ran a 55 second barrel pattern amd 1min 23 on poles!...we came in a close last right behind the Percheron!

But im glad you got it figured out! :)

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She decided she didnt want to canter so she stopped halfway through then spun for the gate during our barrel pattern. Oh,and we even got beat by a mini horse! Its why we do fun shows only!

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