Who knew there were so many ways to trot around poles?
Claire Lilley’s book, 200+ School Exercises With Poles (JA Allen, 2012) ensures you’ll never be bored again in the ring, whether you jump or just do dressage.
While it’s a bit of a dry read from cover to cover, I found it easy to flip through and pick out a few exercises to try, all of which require four poles or less, making them easy for nearly anyone to try.
Poles can be used for everything from teaching a young horse to be straight on the centerline to giving the rider a visual “longside” on the diagonal when learning half pass. You don’t have to actually trot over them to benefit.
There are 30 pole layouts in the book using between one and four poles, and each layout has about five exercises each.
Each exercise gets its’ own page and Lilley explains how to lay the poles out by distance (which is in meters, unfortunately for us U.S. readers) in a standard sized dressage ring. There are illustrations using different colored lines with arrows to follow for particular movements or gaits and Lilley describes each exercise in detail with bullet points for more ways to ride each one.
She also includes bullet points on common rider faults to watch out for during the exercise and “Teacher’s Tips” that focus on the finer points of rider position and can be useful in any situation, not just for the particular exercise they’re included with.
On alternating pages, there are some cute inspirational quotes like, “The horse must respond to and respect the rider” and “You’re sitting on the greatest teacher in the world: learn from your horse”.
I think the biggest thing missing from the book are more exercises actually trotting or cantering over consecutive poles. There are a few that include four trot poles at about 4 1/2′ apart to go over, but for the most part, the exercises require you to trot around or between poles, focusing on your flatwork.
I think this book would most benefit dressage riders who might want to spice up their routine, but I think it can definitely benefit eventers too, especially those of us stuck in the indoor all winter!
The book is available and Horseandriderbooks.com for $45.00, but it can be found for cheaper on Amazon.