One exercise I use a lot just uses two canter poles. It is probably one of the most simple, yet effective exercises you can do. The ability to lengthen and shorten your horse’s stride is really important. Whether you are just starting out at Grassroots level or whether you are preparing for a 5* event, being able to alter the number of strides your horse is putting in can be a life saver.
Place two canter poles in a line, one towards each end of the arena. Don’t worry too much about the distance between them.
Start by establishing a normal working canter and canter over the centre of the first pole and aim for the centre of the second pole. Keep an even rhythm and count the number of strides between the two poles. Repeat the exercise to get the same number of strides. Here you are looking at maintaining the same even rhythm each time.
Once you have maintained the same number of strides each time you need to collect or shorten the canter to try and get one extra stride. Do lots of transitions before and after the poles to help the horse sit on their hind leg and shorten the canter.
Then you can look at lengthening the canter to get one stride less.
This exercise really helps you to practice riding the different gears in your canter.