Pick Up Those Feet!

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Horses get lazy just like we do. Sometimes it's a little thing, such as they don't pick up their feet or they don't watch where they're going. While a sudden, noticeable difference might indicate a health problem that you should investigate with your vet, if your horse has just gotten lazy, maybe a session with ground poles will help.

  • Practice with poles on the ground. Start with one or two poles.
  • Start with the poles several feet apart, especially with young horses, and move the poles closer once they can negotiate the rails with ease.
  • When you're teaching your horse to jump, you'd use a preset distance. For this exercise, though, put the poles at random distances and angles from each other.
  • Begin this exercise at the walk to build confidence. Don't hurry the horse, but allow him to find his own way.
  • If you're leading your horse, be sure to ask him to move his shoulder away from you, so he doesn't jump on you. It's best to send him around a round pen or use a lunge line, if you've taught him to lunge well.
  • Give the horse his head over the poles. If you hold your horse's head up, you may find that he'll try to leap or hurry across.
  • Add speed control and halts to help keep the horse light. This also keeps him from leaning on his forehand through the poles.
  • Do the same exercise while riding.