I love doing ground pole exercises with my jumping pony that keep him thinking as he can get easily distracted with just normal trot/canter poles and starts rushing. In a flatwork session, which I usually do around twice a week, I add in at least one pole exercise to make him more focused and responsive as well as improve his balance.
As jumping is our thing, it's really important to have a good rhythmical balanced canter that is also responsive, making it easy to lengthen and shorten if necessary. This exercise I find really helps to get my pony listening and to engage…
Use a minimum of 8 poles (if possible) and lay them out so you have 1 stride and 2 canter strides between them as in the diagram above. For one canter stride, I take 4 big steps (This may alter for the size of the horse obviously and you need to get used to how big to make your stride depending on your height too.) You can also add vertical poles to the horizontal ones to almost 'box' the exercise - I use this to help with keeping straight, and not drifting down the grid.
Aim to take a straight line down the middle of the poles, staying relaxed. Make sure you are breathing regularly and not holding your breath! Once your horse is engaging well down the grid in canter you can also circle afterwards passing back through the one stride poles. This particularly helps to stop rushing and improves balance. Also alternating which direction you turn in will keep your horse thinking and help prevent him guessing your next move. My horse in particular is very good at this so continually mixing it up ensures he listens!
Have you got any favourite pole exercises to help with jumping? If you try this one then I'd love to know how you get on.