We’ve all heard that working over raised ground poles is great for your horse’s hind end and and top line. Even at the walk, working poles can help build your horse’s strength and flexibility — however, the caveat is that you have to help your horse use their body correctly in order to reap the benefits of the exercise.
Think of this concept as being similar to a human lifting weights in the gym; in the gym, you have to have good form in order to active the correct muscle groups (and keep from injuring yourself!). Your horse also has to have good form when doing polework in order to reap the full benefits of the exercise. This means a stable, strong connection to your hand and a sense that the horse is working over her back.
If you’ve never experienced or internalized the feeling of a horse working over its back, then this short clip from Olympic medalist Andrew Hoy should help. It’s kind of crazy how you can feel each of his horse’s steps right through the screen thanks to this neat perspective and positioning of the camera!