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  • Immagine del redattoreGiulio di Renzo v.Freymann

LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF POLEWORK





COLORFUL & INSTAGRAM FRIENDLY


WITH THE SPREAD OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE "MARKETIZATION" OF COMUNICATION AROUND THE HORSE WORLD, WE'RE PRESENTED ALMOST ON A DAILY BASIS WITH CREATIVE POLEWORK EXERCISES BY ACADEMIES AND TRAINERS, BUT HOW FUNCTIONAL ARE THEY IN THE REAL LIFE OUT OF THE LIGHTBOX? FAR FROM GIVING A DEFINITIVE ANSWER, IN THIS POST WE'LL TRY TO JOURNEY AROUND THE LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF THIS METHOD.



WHAT IS POLEWORK? A DEFINITION


POLEWORK IS A TYPE OF TRAINING FOR HORSES THAT INVOLVES SETTING UP POLES ON THE GROUND IN VARIOUS CONFIGURATIONS ACCORDING TO THE GOAL OF THE SPECIFIC EXERCISE. IT'S A GREAT WAY TO KEEP RIDER AND HORSE MENTALLY ENGAGED AND STIMULATED WHILE:


  • IMPROVING COORDINATION AND BALANCE

AS IT REQUIRES HORSES AND RIDERS TO NAVIGATE POLES IN A SPECIFIC PATTERN AND DISTANCE ACCORDING TO THE GOAL OF THE DAY, WHICH INCREASES COORDINATION AND BALANCE

  • IMPROVING PROPRIOCEPTION

FORCING HORSES TO PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR SURROUNDINGS AND THEIR OWN BODY AS A COMPLEX WHILE FOCUSING ON THE TASK AT HAND, IMPROVING THEIR PROPRIOCEPTION AND OVERALL RESPONSIVENESS TO THEIR RIDER'S CUES


  • VARIETY IN TRAINING

ADDING VARIETY TO THE DAILY ROUTINE OF HORSE AND RIDER, MAKING IT MORE INTERESTING AND PREVENTING BOREDOM AND BURNOUT





SO INDEED IT IS FUNCTIONAL...BUT



LIKE EVERY VERY USEFUL TOOL, POLEWORK TOO CAN BECOME UTTERLY DESTRUCTIVE IF THE BASIS ON WHICH IT IS PERFORMED IS NOT SOLID.
WAY TOO OFTEN IN FACT BEGINNERS AND AMATEUR RIDERS GIVE IT A SHOT AS A SHORTCUT TO "SOLVE" HANDLING DIFFICULTIES, STIFFNESS IN THE FLATWORK AND BALANCE PROBLEMS.
IF APPARENTLY POLEWORK WORKS PERFECTLY AT ANY STAGE OF THE "SCALE OF TRAINING", BOASTING REGULARITY OF THE MOVEMENTS IN EACH GATE, IT CAN ACTUALLY DISRUPT THE MOTION SCHEME OF THE HORSE IF THE NEEDED FLATWORK LEVEL IS NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED BOTH BY RIDER AND HORSE.


COMPATIBILITY IS THE KEY

EVERYONE WORKING WITH HORSES SHOULD REMIND HIMSELF THAT EVEN IF IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE SO, EVERYTHING WE DO IN OUR TRAINING SESSION AFFECTS OUR HORSE'S BODY AS A WHOLE.

IF WE WERE TO COMPARE THE TRAINING OF A HORSE TO THE ONE OF A HUMAN, DRESSAGE WORK WOULD BE THE ISOLATED MUSCLE TRAINING, LIKE WEIGHT FLEXING ON MACHINES, POLEWORK WOULD BE CROSSFIT AND JUMPING/POLEWORK COMBINATIONS CALISTHENICS.


WHEN A RIDEABILITY ISSUE IN A JUMPING COURSE OR TEST ARISES IT USUALLY STEMS FROM THE NATURAL ASYMMETRIES IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF MUSCULAR POWER THAT , IF UNRESOLVED WITH THE RIGHT PROGRESSION, STIMULATES THE HORSE TO FIND COMPENSATING COMPROMISE SOLUTIONS.


LIKE WITH HUMANS, FUNCTIONAL TRAINING IS USEFUL TO IMPROVE THE RESISTANCE TO EFFORT AND STIMULI OF THE BODY AS A WHOLE, TO IMPROVE THE BODY'S RESPONSE TO FATIGUE AND STRESS BUT IT WON'T NECESSARILY END THE NATURAL "DEXTERISM* OF THE BODY.

WHICH LEADS TO THE "SHADOW" SIDE OF THIS METHOD:


  • RISK OF PHISICAL INJURIES DUE TO EITHER AN EXCESSIVELY DEMANDING CONFIGURATION OF THE EXERCISE OR THE HORSE STEPPING ON THE POLE


  • EXCESSIVE STRESS ESPECIALLY IN SPOOKY, VERY RESPECTFUL OR HORSES WHOM MAY BE STRESSED BY LONG SEQUENCES


  • PLACEBO EFFECT ON THE RIDER ABOUT THE LEVEL OF PREPARATION OF A HORSE


WHILE THE FIRST TWO POINTS ARE QUITE SELF EXPLANATORY, IT IS THE LAST ONE THAT KEEPS THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE POTENTIAL. VERY OFTEN, IN FACT, RIDERS ARE MORE FOCUSED ON GETTING THE HORSE TO DO THE LINEUP INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON HAVING THE SAME FEELING AND "QUALITY" IN BOTH SIDES. THE AMOUNT OF HORSES PERFORMING POLEWORK EXERCISES PROPERLY ON THE BIT ON ONE HAND, AND THE VERY SAME LINEUP ABOVE OR BEHIND IS ASTONISHINGLY HIGH,AND WHILE THE RIDER IS CONVINCED HE'S WORKING ON THE PROBLEM, IT IS THE OPPOSITE THAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING, SINCE THE HORSE IS LEARNING NEW WAYS TO "COMPROMISE" ON THE EFFORT REQUIRED AND MAKING IT EVERY TIME MORE DIFFICULT TO FIND WAYS TO CORRECT THE ISSUE AT THE ROOT.



IN CONCLUSION


A MINDFUL APPROACH TO POLEWORK IS VERY EFFECTIVE AND FUNCTIONAL BUT ONLY IN A SCENARIO WHERE FLATWORK IS THE BACKBONE OF THE PREPARATION SINCE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SUCH WORK IS DEPENDENT ON THE HORSE'S SYMMETRY, WHOSE SOLE EFFECTIVE TRAINING LIES IN THE DRESSAGE ARENA.


WHAT ABOUT THE VIEWS THEN?


I THINK THAT, ESPECIALLY THIS GENERATION BORN IN THE ERA OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ONLINE INFORMATION, IS GETTING MORE AND MORE ACQUAINTED WITH THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE "INSTAGRAM" AND REALITY. IF YOU LOOK AT IT FROM A MARKETING POINT OF VIEW, EXCEPT FOR CHRISTOPH HESS AND A FEW OTHERS, IT'S MUCH EASIER TO MARKET THAN "BORING" DRESSAGE AND IT STILL PROVIDES SOME GLAMOUR AND PROFESSIONAL APPEARANCE. WHEN IT COMES TO REALITY THOUGH I'M SURE PEOPLE IN THIS SPORT ARE HUMBLE ENOUGH NOT TO ONLY RELY ON ONLINE CONTENT TO GET OTHER THAN INSPIRED, BUT ACTUALLY ON IN PRESENCE QUALIFIED TRAINERS TO HELP THEM OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES AHEAD OF THEM




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