Extra Credit Should Be Given If...

Roping Reins and not romal or split reins

Entry Number is shown on saddle blanket or on rider's back.

A comment line that says where the horse is in the pattern

Color co-orindated rider and equipment.

Model cuts in extremely close to poles.

Model exhibits flexion, tork or supple body bends around poles.

Points Should be Deducted If...

Rider uses spurs forward of the cinch.

Loss of hat

Set-Up Options

Arena Fencing Required:
Indoor or Outdoor Arena
Types of Fencing Allowed
Painted or Natural

Post and Rail

Post and Plank

Chain Link

Solid Plyboard

Plyboard with Top Rail

Post with Drape Rope

Stock Tube Pipe Rail

Interior Arena Wall

Footing Required:


No grass base

No rock base

Backboard or Natural Setting:


Pole Bending

A timed event based on pole pattern of serpentines around six poles with a straightaway begining and return. Five second penalty for each pole knocked over and disqualification for going off pattern. Poles are spaced 21 feet apart and the last pole is 21 feet from the timer. Mistakes: Poles should be set in rubber to prevent injury and any poles set in tires, flower pots, tin cans should be penalized. Split reins may be used but should be knotted. *NAN guidelines read barrel saddle takes precedence over other styles of saddles.

(a) 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 aver- age time of the watches used by official timers to be the official time.

(b) 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.

(c) 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.

(d) Knocking over a pole shall carry a five-second penalty. Failure to follow the course shall cause disqualification. A contestant may touch a pole with his or her hand in pole bending. If the original course is altered by a rider intentionally grasping a pole, a fivesecond penalty for each pole grasped will be assessed.

(e) A five-second penalty will be assessed if the hat or helmet is not on the exhibitor's person for the entire time the exhibitor is in the arena in pole bending.

(f) If a tie occurs where points are involved, placing will be worked off if all tied exhibitors agree to participate in a run-off, if not, a coin toss will be used to separate the ties. The horse declared the winner in the runoff must rerun the pattern within two seconds of its original time or the runoff must be held again. Penalty time will not apply to the two-second rule, but will apply to the final runoff time.

(g) The judge must disqualify any contestant for excessive use of a whip, rope, crop, bat or reins anywhere on the horse.

Examples of Pole Bending:
Photo Credit:

Pole Bending

Double M Major Motion shown as a Buckskin QH Gelding. Mold is a CM Creata Gold Standard Jacody by Wilgus. Shown by Andrea Robbins with comment line: The rider's well-trained horse swings quickly around the far pole in the Pole Bending contest, before weaving back through the line of poles to the finish line. Note safety pole set in rubber.

Photo Credit:

Pole Bending

BBF Hotrod Harley shown as a Palomino Quarter Horse Gelding. Mold is a Smokin' Hot Rod resin by Sheri Rhodes. Shown by Emily Rodgers with a clever comment line for a jogging horse: Walk/Trot Pole Bending.

Photo Credit:

Pole Bending

Leopard Rock shown as a Black Semi-leopard Appaloosa Sport Horse (Hanovarian x Appaloosa) mare. Mold is a CM Breyer Show Jumping Warm blood - Ideal. Shown by Andrea Robbins. Comment line reads: Entrant has finished weaving through the 6 poles and is now dashing for the finish line.

Photo Credit:

Pole Bending

Rio shown as a Bay Roan QH Gelding and is a Breyer SHS CM. Shown by Sue Sudekum with the comments: Pole Bending; waiting to begin run. It is a clever way to show your less supple models that looks too stiff placing them around the poles.


Required Tack:
A western stock saddle without tapaderos. The saddle can have either squared or rounded skirts. Can be gaming, working or show saddle. Breastplates are optional. A saddle pad resting under all pressure points is recommended but not required equipment. A western style bridle (browband, one ear, two ear, with or without throatlatch) with a curb bit including a curb strap or curb chain. Standard snaffle bit and bosal hackamores are permitted on horses 4 and under (5 and under for Arabians and Appaloosas). Roping rein are typically seen. Split reins can be used and are typically knotted together. Tie-downs and leg protection are optional

Tapaderos are prohibited.

Attire is jeans, trousers or pants over western boots, long sleeved shirts, (vest, tie and jacket are also permitted) belt through loop, and western hat. Chaps are optional.

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Updated: January 14, 2013