Pole Work for Ponies & Little Riders | Saidee Samuelson

Tiny tots on cheeky little ponies can sometimes be difficult to keep entertained over the winter months, as hacking becomes more of a challenge, and the short days make riding after nursery or school a little difficult. Pole work can really help keep your little one and their pony motivated. 

Pole work has so many benefits not only for tiny riders but also for their fury friends. Providing your pony with core and top line conditioning, and your little one with an opportunity to improve their balance, seat and steering.

The PolyJumps sectional poles are an absolute must for little riders. These poles can be split easily in half, this means they’re light weight enough for a child as young as 3 to carry around independently, but when put together as a whole unit, they are heavy enough for a grown up sized horse and rider to use confidently.

To show you just some of the great ideas we have for the PolyJumps sectional poles, we have 12h Section A Rhencullen Poppy and the Miklasova Family to show you how it’s done.


Little on sitting on horse in arena.


1) In hand:

Teaching little equestrians to handle their own pony is really important. A is shown here taking Poppy and his cuddly lion toy for a walk over the poles. This exercise improves ponies proprioception (Proprioception refers to the body's ability to perceive its own position in space) and helps the child improve their handling skills. With older children you could make a more challenging pole set-up to include bending and turning.


2) Balance: 

Great fun for riders of any age, testing your little riders balance and seat over poles can be both fun and challenging.

Can your little one pop their hands on their head as they go over the poles?

Child on horse with hands in the air whilst riding over poles.
Can your little one sit backwards as they go over the poles?

child riding backwards over trotting poles


3) Transitions:

Transitions are super important for ponies and riders at any level. This little box exercise helps give riders and ponies a physical boundary to stop at, and can help improve co-ordination.


4) Crazy Poles:

Allow your child to set the poles out on their own, the PolyJumps sectional poles are short enough and light enough for children as young as three to move around independently. Don’t worry about the placement – they can set them out in a heap or more spread out. Allow you child to walk pony over the poles in hand or whilst riding. Your pony should be able to pick his own way through.

Child holding mini pole



I recommend for ponies 12h and under setting your distance as follows.

WALK: 0.5m this is the same as approx. 2 ladies feet end to end

TROT: 1m this is the same as approx. 4 ladies feet end to end

If these don’t work right for you, then I recommend popping pony on the lunge and setting some poles up, your ponies feet should fall roughly in the middle each time. When you see that happening that is the correct distance for your pony.


General tips:

If your child’s on the lead rein, make sure you're not holding pony's head too tightly as they will need to move their head to balance and see where they are going. Similarly if your child’s riding independently make sure the reins are loose enough for pony to move his head.

As you move over the poles try and make sure your pony keeps to one steady speed and doesn't rush out in front in excitement or give up half way through.  

Trot is the most aerobic pace so if your pony needs to loose some weight this winter then lots of trot will certainly help.


child and pony going over poles


Thanks for reading, have a wonderful half term!

Saidee Samuelson.




Disclaimer: If you would like to try any of these activities please make sure you and your child are in appropriate safety equipment, the arena and the poles you are using are safe and that as the responsible adult you have made a risk assessment of the situation and evaluated the pony and riders suitability for the activities. If your pony has suffered laminitis or other underlying medical conditions please seek advice from your vet before undertaking pole work.


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