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Pole Bending Basics
 By Fantasy Farms   •   1st Feb 2011   •   6,987 views   •   25 comments
Pole bending is a timed event where you have six poles evenly spaced apart. Pole bending is a solo event; just one horse and one rider.

Pole BendingPole bending poles are made out of PVC plastic and are typically white with red or blue rings on them. The six poles are arranged in a straight line normally 21 feet apart. The pole closet to the timer, is 21 feet from the timers. Poles are six feet high with the bases no larger than 14 inches. If you happen to knock over a pole, it is a five second penalty. To start your pattern, you can choose to run on either side of the poles. If you pick the right side to start on, you run down to the pole at the end of the arena and make a left turn around it. You then have to weave the poles and weave back. After you have weaved down and then back, you then run straight home. A good pole run is around 20-22 seconds.

To start, you should look where you want to go. Look straight down to the end of the wall. Stay a good distance away from the poles when you are running down. I have seen so many people get too close to the poles and their horse will start to weave before they turn the first pole. As you turn your first pole, your eyes should be looking at the last pole. When you are weaving, try not to cross your hands over your horse’s neck. If have a pole ahead of you and you are weaving to the right, you should lift your left rein slightly and use your left leg. You are using an in-direct rein. This method will help prevent your horse from knocking over a pole. If you are weaving to the left, slightly lift your right rein and use your right leg. When you are running home, run all the way home. Don’t start to slow your horse down until you have finished crossing the finish line. Also, you should never stop your horse abruptly after you have finished running. Stopping suddenly and abruptly puts pressure on your horses hocks and legs causing your horse to become sore. Make a circle to help slow your horse down instead of halting abruptly.

Pole Bending

Before you do pole bending, you need to consider the condition of your horse. Pole bending is a timed event and you want your horse to be in peak condition to run. You as a rider should also be in shape as well. If your horse is a little on the chunky side, you can do lots of long trotting to get your horse to slim down as well as regular riding. Your tack should be in good, working order. You don’t have to have a barrel racing saddle to do pole bending. As long as you have a saddle that fits you and your horse, that you feel comfortable riding in, you are fine. Breast collars are optional. Breast collars prevent your saddle from sliding back. Tie downs are optional as well. They can help balance your horse and prevent them from tossing their head. Your reins should be short and should be connected like barrel or roping reins.

I recommend that you use splint boots on your horses front legs. Splint boots help prevent hyperextension of your horses fetlock and other lower leg injuries. They also absorb 26% of the energy from hoof concussion.

If your horse wears front shoes and has been known to pull shoes, your horse should wear bell boots. Bell boots will help prevent your horse from pulling a shoe. Some horses knick themselves in their back legs. If your horse scratches his back legs or needs extra support, wearing splint boots on the back legs is a good idea. You as a rider should wear a western styled shirt. You don’t need to wear a show shirt, as a judge does not judge the class; a timer judges it. Overall, you should wear a long sleeved, western styled shirt, boots, jeans and a helmet/hat. Check the rules to determine if helmets are required. While some organizations don’t require helmets, it’s a good idea to wear one.

Most states and countries have gymkhana shows that include pole bending. If you have never tried pole bending, I think you should try it. It’s a fast paced event that is lots of fun!
Pole Bending Basics
Pole Bending Basics
Pole Bending Basics
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