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This weeks question is from Claire;
What is the easiest way to teach a horse to side pass over a pole? My horse is more comfortable side passing if we practice with the pole in front of him but he worries with the pole underneath.
Secondly, since starting to learn this he often will anticipate this and then not stand over the pole and halt.
Great question Claire – I will do my best to cover all the areas of training that it takes.
Side pass over the pole, this one of the more difficult exercises in Working Equitation. It will show up anxieties and imbalances very clearly so important to be careful from the beginning to make sure every phase of training side pass is done to the degree that the horse is totally okay.
Once you have an anxious horse about having the pole between the legs it will be the first thing to remedy. This can be done on the ground with tiny short sessions often and lots of reward, being careful never to trap the horse over the pole.
If the pole is still too much then an imaginary pole – piece of rope or a mark on the ground will do to start. These sessions can be anytime….e.g. after catching, on the way to grooming area, on the way to mounting block, during riding, after riding, on the way back to paddock.
In doing this so many times you will start to notice patterns of imbalance and make little corrections in presentation or balance to remedy. These little corrections start a practice of getting the aids small enough to move just a little at a time hopefully in balance.
Once all this is done and he is relaxed, balanced and not anxious then the training of side pass starts as per starting an unanxious balanced horse – just teaching step by step. That can be the next question in the series.