Book Excerpt: Two Fitness Exercises Using Ground Poles (for You!)

This excerpt from Fit & Focused in 52 by Coach Daniel Stewart is reprinted with permission from Trafalgar Square Books (

In this excerpt from Fit & Focused in 52, fitness and mental conditioning coach Daniel Stewart provides two exercises using jump poles that will improve your ability to use your legs independently while keeping your back flat and your posture solid.

Pole Leg Yields

Using your left and right legs independently to apply lateral leg aids is an important skill in any riding discipline. You just have to have the discipline to learn them! You can certainly develop them on your horse but you can also teach your body the basic mechanics of lateral movement on the ground as well. Here’s how you’re going to do your pole leg yields:

1  Start sitting up tall, shoulders open, eyes forward, back flat,  with your elbows in front of the body. You should have the same amount of weight in each seat bone and in each leg. Your knees should be slightly bent and opened wide. Put one foot on each side of one in a series of evenly spaced trot poles.

2  Lower yourself by bending your knees.

3  Extend your knees to begin the jumping phase of the exercise.

4  Continue extending your knees so your feet leave the ground as you use one leg to push yourself through the air to the side and over the next pole in your series.

5  Land straddling the next pole with the same amount of weight in each leg.

6  Bend your knees to absorb the shock as you come back to your starting position and get ready to do it again. Repeat in both directions.

Reps, Sets, and Sweats

Do three sets of 10 repetitions.

Exercise Your Ears Also

It’s really important that you develop the ability to keep equal weight in both legs while performing most lateral movements, so do your best to land equally in each leg during this exercise. A neat way to ensure you’re landing balanced is to listen to the sound your feet make when they hit the ground. Do you hear a thump-thump, or do you just hear a thump? In this case, less is always better!

Sport of Distances

This exercise is most beneficial when you separate the poles by about two feet. Any more and you might need to sacrifice your balance and equitation to complete the jumps.

Photo by Marc Minisci 

Pole Pony Pats

You’re about to discover how to turn a squat-thrust into a pony pat!

1  Start in the same position as the last exercise with your feet on each side of a ground pole.

2  Extend your knees and jump off the ground.

3  Maintain your balance and keep your knees bent while in the air.

4  Land equally and close your hips and knees as you reach down for the pole.

5  With a flat back and eyes up, touch the pole as if patting your pony on the neck.

6  Begin extending your knees as you prepare to jump up again.

7  Jump off the ground with good form and posture.

8  Land in your starting position and get ready to do it again.

Reps, Sets, and Sweats

Do three sets of 10 repetitions.

No Pole, No Problem!

Just because this exercise is called the pole pony pat, that doesn’t mean you need a pole. You can substitute it with almost anything—including a small stuffed horse! Just give him a pat each time you perform the exercise. FYI: You shouldn’t substitute the pole with a cinnamon bun or anything with the word caramel in it!

Pick up your copy of Fit & Focused in 52 from Trafalgar Square books HERE.