Intro To Ground Poles

Learn about introducing your horse to ground poles!

Watch the Video Here or continue reading below!

Reasons to use ground poles

What’s going on team MG! I am back with another video for you guys and we are going to be working on the introduction to ground poles. Ground poles are used in a lot of different disciplines for a lot of different reasons. Anything from spacing and jumping, to getting that horse to look down for trails and obstacles. People will use them for gaited horses to break up pace. Again, really getting a horse to understand where he’s putting his feet.

I have Thunder here, and Thunder’s about my most reactive horse in training at the moment. So we’re going to show him ground poles for the first time. Before I do that, you know I’m just going to flex him, because he just got cinched up. I just swung a leg over him and ground poles are no different than any other obstacle. If you think about everything like that, you’re already going to have the answer.

The Approach Of Ground Poles

When you think about the approach, even if you don’t know how to do it, think of it like any other obstacle. When I come up to these look how right there he wants to veer off to the side. I’m going to sit back, look up and straighten him out over them. I am going to go over them, and then turn him around and go right back over them. I have three ground poles, you could have 30. It really doesn’t matter, all that matters is that the horse is willing to go where you want.

These are made out of pvc which I like because they sound and they look scary being white. The harder and bigger your ground poles are, the more they’ll try to avoid them. See here he’s tapping them, this is good in the beginning because he’s going over them for me but he keeps tapping them. If I was to use four by fours or if I was to use landscaping timber, that are a little bit more solid, or even railroad ties that are more solid, the less that horse is going to want to run into them.


It’s the same thing with jumps. Whenever you’re making jumps and you’re putting your crosses on the jump standards, if you are doing it with pvc that horse bumps into it there’s no real repercussion to try not to bump into it. Where if it’s wood, a lot of jumps are real solid. Whenever you talk about cross country eventers, or fox hunters, their jumping stuff doesn’t move very easily. That horse learns not to bump into it. There we go, now he’s looking downward, now he’s thinking. That’s what we want to see.

 If you see this in the western pleasure trail classes it is amazing. Those horses can walk, trot, canter, through a set of poles and never touch one, which is freaking awesome! They’re so aware they’re definitely using poles at home that don’t give. Like that one just gave when his foot bumped it. The horses learn to respect them and they start learning to watch where they are putting their feet.

 If you’ve watched our obstacle series it would be very similar to, we call it the railroad, which is four by fours, two feet apart. It has dividers every two feet, and the horse learns where to put his feet at because it’s uncomfortable when they step on it. It’s no different than that.


If you approach your ground poles for the first time when you’re introducing them as if they are an obstacle and you sit back your heels are down and forward, you give the horse the reins, and you only pressure him whenever he balks. Very quickly you’ll get your horse to accept ground poles. You will be able to put them at whatever job that you’re trying to accomplish, whether that’s jumping, obstacles or gaiting. There are so many different reasons to use ground poles. You will be able to use them to your advantage. Well guys, thanks so much for watching and I’ll see you in the next video!

Check out more free training resources HERE!


Can you control every part of his body, even if he’s scared or unsure?

There are some specific things that I believe every horse should be able to do before they are considered completely safe to ride. So that you can see how safe your horse is to ride, I’ve created this FREE Horse Safety Checklist.

Dealing With Anxious Horses. How to know if your horse is safe.

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