Pole bending is a timed event that features a horse and one mounted rider, running a weaving or serpentine path around six poles arranged in a line. The pole bending pattern is to be run around six poles. Each pole is to be 21 feet (6.4 meters) apart, and the first pole is to be 21 feet (6.4 meters) from the starting line. Poles shall be set on top of the ground, six feet (1.8 meters) in height, with no base more than 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter.

Each contestant will begin from a running start, and time shall begin and end as the horse’s nose crosses the line. A clearly visible starting line must be provided. An electric timer or at least two watches shall be used, with the time indicated by the electric timer or the average time of the watches used by official timers to be the official time.


A horse may start either to the right or to the left of the first pole and then run the remainder of the pattern accordingly. Knocking over a pole shall carry a five-second penalty. Missing a pole shall carry a ten-second penalty. A contestant may touch a pole with his or her hand in pole bending.