Patterns for the Weekend: Flexibility, Cadence and Anticipation

This set of exercises offers a great way to keep your horse from rushing and anticipating what’s coming next, help them maintain rhythm, and assist with flexibility and tight turns.

These patterns were originally published on the blog No Bucking Way. Check them out for more awesome exercises and explanations. 

The set up for these exercises is fairly simple: place four to six poles in a zig-zag pattern in the center of your arena or in a large open area. )The bare minimum for this exercise is four poles.)


This is a  versatile exercise that can be ridden in the walk, trot, or canter. The main thing is to maintain a consistent rhythm throughout each version of it. This will translate to jumping since maintaining cadence and approaching poles smoothly and correctly is the basis of your jumping.

For the first pattern, ride the exercise at the trot, focusing on tight turns and getting your horse to bend around your leg. This is also a great pattern to get your horse moving correctly and riding in front of your leg.

The second exercise is great to work on leads at the canter. It can be difficult, but the poles work as guides and your horse shouldn’t have the space to rush between poles.


Below are three additional exercises. When you are riding circles, start off by riding large circles, but as your horse becomes more familiar and adept, begin to challenge him by making them smaller. 

All of these exercises are great for horses that anticipate their work. The different patterns and tight turns will keep your horse thinking and stop them from anticipating where they are going next. The end goal is that the horse will have to slow down and listen to your aids.

For more explanation and exercises, check out the original blog post here.