Memorable Moments

Kris Blacklock

WDCTA Central WI Chapter wishes to recognize and applaud our member’s horsemanship activities and asked member’s to share clinics attended, shows competed in, goals accomplished or are still working on, a new horse.... anything members did with their horse or with other’s horses.  We encourage learning from each other and wish to inspire horsemanship sportsmanship.  Let’s discover what Central Chapter Officers Vicki Hodel & Kris Blacklock learned by attending a recent ground pole clinic.

Memorable Moments – Vicki Hodel & Kris Blacklock

On December 19, 2015, travelling trainer Kelley Shetter-Ruiz from Dousman WI introduced ground pole workouts to 3-4 riders & horses within a one day clinic comprised of five 90 minute group sessions hosted by Nicole Trapp at Barry Ridge Equestrian Center, Germantown WI.  WDCTA Central Chapter Vice-President Kris Blacklock (auditor) along with working spot rider President Vicki Hodel & Leaguers Charlie (‘Red’), a 4 yr. old American Quarter Horse gelding and fellow riders and auditors attending the day long clinic were awestruck in the variety of exercises one could do with just a few simple ground poles. Here’s a snippet of what participants learned.

Click on Read more to learn more! 

What’s the horse/rider benefit of using ground poles? They assist horses in strengthening their hindquarters, help develop straightness, rhythm and tempo, improve surefootedness, help teach focus, improve horse & rider balance and perk up a daily arena workout.

Start by gathering a few inexpensive treated 8’ wooden landscape timbers, paint a center mark with Rust-o-leum in any color(s) and keep it simple.  Do not use PVC as it rolls and shatters when stepped on.  After consulting with your horse, trainer & vet, layout & space poles for your horse’s stride length at walk, then trot. To set your poles, use a measuring tape to ensure you have your desired distance; then practice walking it off by foot so you can estimate by pacing instead of relying on a measuring tape each time. Average horses range from 3’ to 3 ½’ width for walk; 4’ to 4 ½’ width for trot.  Adjust pole width for your horse’s stride.  Kelley offers a width chart in her eBook “Fun with Ground Poles Starring Tristan the Wonder Horse: Beginner Edition” available online for a nominal cost from Amazon.

Ground poles

Always wear a helmet - regardless as to how long your workout may be - a few moments to a few hours. After you've properly warmed up yourself and your horse, always walk your horse thru any ground pole exercise before trotting it.  Remember to look up, not down at the poles, or your horse may think you want to stop or become worried.  Pick a spot in the horizon or on the arena wall as a focus point.

For beginner groundwork, start by setting up one pole or a series of one, set like the quarter hands of a clock (12n, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm).  Either in-hand or under saddle, work on riding through the center.  Add an additional pole spaced for your horse’s stride at walk working up to a total of four sequential poles.  Focus on keeping your horse and yourself centered, straight and moving at the same rhythm and tempo through the entire set.  If you find the horse drifts, use cones to mark the edges.  Once you have mastered all four poles at walk, then adjust spacing for trot; add more poles or elevate one or both ends to make it more challenging. 

Vicki on Red

As you and your horse become stronger, mix the routine up with skinny, offset, curved, elevated, squiggles, labyrinth, crisscross, and ‘W’, ‘Y’ configurations. Vicki Hodel indicated “by the end of our session, ‘Red’ really felt nice under me and the ground poles got his trot working”.  Kris Blacklock absolutely “loved watching each session’s horses/riders learning curve progression with focus on straightness, consistent rhythm and tempo within a purposeful walk and trot with a ‘bounce’. The variety of ground pole workouts sessions were outstanding – perfect for any time of year; especially winter.”  Both encourage you to ride or audit a ground poles session with Kelley Shetter-Ruiz. It’s amazing! WDCTA is proud of our member’s zest for learning.