Post Rashid Poles - updated update


Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
Surrey Hills
I've had very little time for Ziggy since the Mark Rashid clinic, but yesterday I snatched half an hour and zoomed over to the paddock for some groundwork. I am trying to be firm and consistent in the groundwork and I have to say I think he can read my mind because he has been extremely good!

I put a couple of poles down in the winter paddock, which now has lots of grass in it, than did some preparatory groundwork before leading him in. He was on a 10ft lead rope so I could circle him if I wanted to, but I have never successfully before sent him over a pole at any distance from me so was honestly expecting to lead him.

The first pole he careered spookily over as normal. Learning from Rashid I ignored the failure and just asked again. The second time he trotted slowly, which was better: so I stopped and let him have one mouthful of grass.

He looked at me. The third time he walked over the pole - very rare for him. I stopped and let him have two mouthfuls of grass.

Well, things just got better and better. By the end of our 20 minute session he was walking over two poles (propped on a tyre at 90 degrees to each other, like 3 o'clock) at the end of the lead rope, in both directions, twice in succession, without me walking beside him. The final time he actually offered to do it! Even when I moved the pole he didn't spook and get silly. He was really, really focused on doing what I wanted so he could get his reward.

I can't imagine we will ever get to showjumping, as it is highly unorthodox for a showjumping horse to stop after each obstacle for a mouthful of grass, but I am very pleased with this progress. I think I need to buy some more poles!


May 7, 2002
right here, right now
Brilliant! Dolly does a kind of elevated trot over poles even if they're like twelve inches off the ground. I think I'm inadvertently teaching her piaffe! Sounds like you're really getting there with him.


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
I like groundwork, its fun.

You can build on it though to a few poles and change the grass as reward for an itch. Bit like you do for clicker training. Then gradually that itch is to finish the session.


Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
Surrey Hills
Well today I added 4 8 foot plain wooden poles to the mix. We walked over them in a fan in each direction without too much trouble, although Ziggy's default is to avoid them if he can, and rush them if he can't. I resorted to stopping him in between each pole, which required some precision and seemed to puzzle him immensely.

Then I made a box out of 4 of the poles, walked him in to it and stopped him. As long as he chafed at the halter, shifted his weight, and moved around generally we stayed in the box. When he stopped moving, stood quietly by me and chilled, I led him out of it.

After 3 tries I could do some basic groundwork - moving his quarters and shoulders - in the box. It's too small to allow him to back up in there.

Here's a thought, can he back up over poles? Or would he not be able to see where he is going?

The next time I have a riding lesson in the school I am going to request, not polework, but that we have 2 poles in the middle of the school about 6 feet apart as his "rest spot".
Last edited:


Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
Oh well done :) and yes he can back up over poles I should think, I know Belle can but she is very well aware of where her feet are. Good luck and keep on enjoying it.


Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
Wow, what progress. I think it's a stroke of genius to have a 'rest area' made from poles in your lesson too.

Just as an aside, because your question about backing up over poles made me think of it, my physio has me halting Raf half way over a pole before walking on again. Apparently the fact that he has to really pick up his back feet to clear the pole as he starts to walk is very good for his back muscles. Might be a bit too much for Ziggy at this stage (I mean the worry of standing over a pole, not the physical effort) but it doesn't sound as though it will be long!

Oh and apparently potties are the thing to use instead of pole cups. Stackable ones from pound shop ideally!


Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2004
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Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
Suffolk, UK
I would be a little cautious backing over poles, I just think they are more likely to knock them or stand on them unless they really lift their feet up naturally when backing and that might give him a scare at this critical time :D Loving the potty idea :D
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