Garrocha or …. just a long pole

What IS a Garrocha pole?

The garrocha pole is used in Spain by the cowboys (called vaqueros ) to move cattle around rather than using the traditional roping

For me, it all started here….
“You just need a curtain rail from Bunnings’ which is just the right weight and fits in your car for easy transport”

A while back I had a lesson with a well-known international horseman, Arne Koets, who is always up for the playful approach, as well as thinking outside the box.
In this lesson, I needed a tune-up on my stiff, fixed dressage position, towards a supple seat-  and so we did some improvisation and out came the pole … and the introduction of an impromptu garrocha lesson.
It was awkward and fun-  and very enlightening, all at the same time.
With the garrocha pole in your hand (yes, some people DO call it pole dancing) you are much more aware of your movements and learn to more easily go with the flow.
Fluidity in the movement becomes your best friend, so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself OR your horse.

The miracle starts to unfold as you sit lighter, as well as more centred and within the movement of your horse.

Also, you want/ need to be very nice to your horse doing this work … and so, all of the sudden the tables have turned, you take accountability /ownership of your mistakes!

To be honest, I didn’t enjoy it the first time, as I felt extremely clumsy and uncoordinated.
But I soon saw the benefits and the fun of it.
I swear my horse started to grin every time I pulled out the pole, because it meant slow, steady, coordinated work-  where I was the one who had to do the work.
My balance had to stay soft, centred, coordinated and light within the movement to ensure I did not block her movements.
Quite a few light bulbs went on – it was a bit of an ‘aha’ moment for me.
You have to let instinct take over and feel back through the movement.

Also, I very quickly learnt that ‘over-correcting’ certain movements was a really bad idea …. Ooops!

Every rider wants to be as even as possible and, as the pole weighs a bit ( which I started to notice after just a few short minutes) I switched hands.

So instead of using my ‘weapon hand’, my arm thanked me for it, I used the other hand, to ensure we could work both ways.
Yes, talk about stiff and hollow sides of our horse… but what about the rider? As most of us aren’t ambidextrous.
The rider equivalent of stiff and hollow is left and right, so how do we work on these imbalances so they work together?
I was amazed and intrigued to learn to place my body where it helped my horse most, to stay balanced in the saddle without pulling on the reins, not clamping my legs or driving my seat into the horse’s back.
Regardless of whether I was sitting, standing, leaning or turning my body halfway left or right, I helped my horse succeed in doing the work I asked of her, as effortlessly and effectively as she possibly could.
This didn’t happen overnight.
Much of the time I was dropping the pole or dragging it or just quickly lifting it up to get it out of the way.
Especially as the pole I used didn’t have the traditional length – it was shorter – and so I had to improvise some movements, but the point is, it wasn’t the ‘perfect pole’ but we still did it and we were able to get some learning outcomes from the exercise.
Practice, practice practice!
It helped me to acquire an independent and balanced seat, which I adapted to the horse beneath me, as they have to learn to carry themselves and a rider on their back.
Your seat comes alive!
I enjoy taking my pole to lessons and having playful sessions and watching the look on riders’ faces, which are often priceless
Some horses eye it off suspiciously to start with, but then they always amaze me and you can see them with a grin on their face and pure enjoyment –  while the rider has to figure their balance and independent seat within the horse’s movement……..Nice and slow.
Don’t block your horse, but assist him/her in their work and the more that horse will trust his rider.
Beyond developing fit, supple, athletic horses, this work taught me that there is an intimate relationship between confidence and balance.
If you want to know more about how I can help you, send me a PM or call me on 0408882730, and let’s find out what you’re goals are.”


balanced rider with a pole/ garrocha
working on riders balanced with the help of a pole shortened version of a garrocha, even circles in alignment
balanced rider with pole /garrocha
rider balance stay alignment while working with a pole/ garrocha front turn
balanced rider with a pole/ garrocha back turn
working on balanced riders seat with the help of a shortened version of a garrocha back turn