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Four Poles, Four Weeks - Week 4!

Welcome back to our Weekly Winter Workouts - a 12-week series of mini polework ideas to inspire you over the winter! MiniD and I have worked hard to pull together some of our favourite polework exercises, which we hope will increase in difficulty as the weeks go by, and also give you some ideas to adapt to your own needs over the winter. We start off pretty simply with ‘Four Poles, Four Weeks’ – each of the November exercises uses just four poles and are quick and easy to set up, as well as being very adaptable for different needs and abilities. You’ll probably have come across many of the layouts before, but we have tried to bring them to you in a child-friendly way. As always, our Demi Dressage ethos is to promote confidence and fun, so we have tried to choose layouts which won’t over-face riders (and ponies!) of all ages and abilities. Of course, the more proficient you become with your polework, the more you can increase the degree of difficulty (as you will see us do in January’s theme!)

Our last exercise for November is raised corner poles. This exercise is good fun, and leads us smoothly from our November 'Four Poles' theme into December's 'Corner Confidence'. For this week's layout you will ideally need four blocks to raise the inside edges of your poles onto, but you can simply lay them flat if you don't have any extra equipment - it just won't be as challenging.

At the very bottom of the dressage 'Scales of Training' is rhythm - and that's what this layout is all about! It looks deceptively simple, but it's actually quite hard (even as an adult! ;) ) to maintain a consistent rhythm all the way round the arena, over the raised poles, without breaking pace or having to chip in a short step or two. The best part is, your young rider will have no idea what they are actually working on is rhythm, and even fairly young/inexperienced riders will find it relatively easy to tell if they have ridden it right or not, because if they get it wrong they will feel that extra 'chipped in' or unrhythmical step - or the pole might even get knocked down!

You'll see from MiniD's attempts that Tangle had to chip in an extra step in walk and in trot - but hopefully you can also see that as the session progressed (all clips are in order from the beginning of the session to the end) her rhythm improved, especially in the trot work.

MiniD was initially very nervous to canter over the raised poles - too much like jumping for her tastes..! But she set up a good canter and Tangle therefore met each of the first two poles easily - MiniD thought it was wonderful! Tangle's canter is her weakest pace, and you can see at the very end of the video what I mean about this being a deceptively hard exercise to maintain a consistent rhythm ALL the way round. Down the long side, Tangle's canter got long and flat, and so she broke to trot before the third pole. This is definitely an exercise for this pair to revisit! As MiniD doesn't like to jump, polework exercises such as these are invaluable for helping her to work on Tangle's canter - and if you're the sort of person who likes 'proof in their pudding' - it wasn't much more than a year ago that Tangle found it hard to maintain canter over just one single ground pole. A year of utilising polework in their canter really has paid off!

This is another layout that probably doesn't need a diagram - just pop your poles on the track in the centre of each corner, so that as the pony comes around the track, they are 'straight' over the pole. Raise the inside end for maximum benefit with this exercise - the higher you raise it, the more challenging it is to maintain that all-important rhythm!

Corner poles are really simple to put in place

Whether you ride this exercise in walk, trot or canter (or all three!) it will really help to get your riders thinking about rhythm, even without thinking about it...! As an added bonus, the position of the poles helps them ride into their corners. Two dressage essentials tackled in one simple exercise - what's not to like?!

Remember, there is no charge for taking part in these polework exercises - we just want to see you all enjoying yourselves! So please do like, comment, share - and add your own photos/videos to our Facebook feed, or use the tag #demidressagepolework Have fun! :D

There are optional rosettes available to purchase for the Weekly Winter Workout series, these are available in our shop now in a variety of colours!

We hope you have enjoyed November's exercises - let us know which one was your favourite!

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