Of Poles and Pitchforks…

Riding while holding a pitchfork full of manure? How does that work? Let me explain.

How do ride holding a pitchfork.

1.This is photo of me holding an actual pitchfork minus the manure! The way you do this while riding is to IMAGINE you are holding a pitchfork. And the pitchfork comes out of your core, like a solar plexus unicorn, This mental image will keep you upright and in balance.

2. If you raise your hands too high , whoops….the manure will go onto your horses neck. So you will keep your hands low.

3. How do I hold a pitchfork with both hands on the handle and in real life I have TWO reins. You imagine handle and depending on what you are doing you will feel which hand needs to be in front of the other hand.

4. When you have your mental pitchfork nicely balanced, you will be sitting upright, hands low and in front of the saddle and ….your horse will also be balanced.

5. This is another outside the box training tool from Lou Denizard. As with all of Lou’s unusual ideas this one works beautifully. If I remember my pitchfork my horse will go better and all the other aspects, my seat , my balance, my lower leg aids will all be doing exactly what they should be.

NEXT: Exercises with poles.

  1. Take four poles and line them up 12-15 feet apart along the long side of the arena. They should be placed about 2.5 -3 feet from the side of the arena.

2. Start at trot and trot down the long side between the arena wall and the poles.

3. Once you are comfortable with that the do a half 8 meter circle at the end of the poles to reverse and go back again. Re enter in between the first and second poles.

4. Next go through the poles weaving in and out. Do NOT leg yield in and out. Do NOT make a big weaving in and out just move as close to the poles as you can and ride almost straight but going in and out between the poles.Do this in both directions.

5. Now once you are comfoatable with that make a sharp turn after the second pole toward the center of the ring and go across to the other long side and turn onto the other rein. Then do the same thing in the other direction.

6. Repeat all the exercises in canter in both directions.

7. Once you have done all the exercises in canter, turn after the second pole across the diagonal, and when reaching the opposite long side make a flying change and go straight to the poles again and do it in the new direction.

What are the benefits?

IF you remember to carry your pitchfork (ah yes!!) while doing the poles exercises they will go much better as you will have your horse balanced. The exercises help with straightness, 8 meter circles, and the turns onto diagonals and onto the centerline that come in dressage tests. I also think these poles exercises would be very helpful flat work for jumpers.


12 responses to “Of Poles and Pitchforks…”

  1. Lignum Draco Avatar

    Great practical advice for other riders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      It is . Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.


  2. Robert Parker Avatar

    Interesting mental exercise! When I first saw this, I thought, boy that sounds odd, and dangerous, but what an interesting exercise to think up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Irene Avatar

    I find this so interesting that I showed my hubby your pic holding the pitchfork and tried to explain what you were doing. As a pilot, he goes through a lot of mental exercises as well. Most of them are “what if” type of scenarios. He was just as impressed with your training exercises as I usually am. Great job, Anne. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Oh my! Thank you for telling me this. I am always amazed at how well the mental images,some of which are really odd ones,seem to be so effective. Interesting that your husband found the exercises interesting as well . Thanks for letting me know this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Irene Avatar

        You are welcome. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. sandyjwhite Avatar

    Mind boggling complexity to all of this, Anne! So much to think about and do to achieve the performance you are seeking. I am in awe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      There are time Sandy when my brain threatens to blow a fuse!😄 thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. sandyjwhite Avatar

        My pleasure. Keep a spare box of fuses handy!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Integrity Training Avatar

    Helpful Analogy and exercise! Looking forward to trying 🙂


    1. anne leueen Avatar

      I’m glad you find it interesting. I am always amazed at how a mental image can make a big difference. And the pole exercises are really useful.

      Liked by 1 person

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