Clinician Jonathan Field demonstrates how two training sticks tied together can improve your horsemanship.
Canadian horsemanship clinician Jonathan Field says giving your ride purpose can dramatically improve the dynamics between a horse and rider. Having a job, like sorting cows, opening a gate, or crossing a bridge, takes teamwork and gives a reason to why you’re riding. For example, you sort cows to weigh the calves, you open a gate to go through, and you cross a bridge to get to the other side.
In the video, Field demonstrates an exercise he developed to mimic riding with a traditonal Spanish garrocha pole. The 10- to 13-foot long pole is part of the Spanish style of horsemanship called doma vaquera, which translates to “western dressage.” Spanish cowboys use the poles to tend cattle and work bulls used in bullfighting, keeping them and their horses a safe but effective distance from the bulls.
Field ties two, 4-foot long sticks together and rides in circles with one handle in his hand and the other handle on the ground. The goal is to keep the handle in the ground as still as possible. He says to also try riding in patterns with the sticks, maneuvering the handle seamlessly over the rider’s head, and pivoting the horse without tripping on the stick.
“It teaches you to ride with your seat and your leg because you have a pole in your hand and can’t steer only with your reins,” he says. “It’s kind of how a roper learns to ride because they’re doing one thing with their hand but still steering the horse with their leg,” he says. “Also, remember to look at the end of the pole or stick. That is where the purpose of the exercise is. If you imagine the end of the stick as a bull, you wouldn’t take your eyes off bull, would you? That’s where your focus should be—the end of the pole.”
Field goes in-depth about this exercise and how the garrocha pole saved his horse Quincy in the December 2018 issue.