After you work a certain setup of cavaletti, your horse is going to get used to it – this restricts the improvement of balance and strength as muscles quickly adjust to whatever new work is given to them and then go into maintenance.
Also, horses get too smart and end up anticipating what you want instead of doing what you asked. 🙂
Here’s a new routine for Big Guy’s Rehabilitation (left). This design is made to encourage straightness and prepare the hindquarters for the impulsion required for trot
For example, down the side of the rail, I set up three ground poles (light gray) parallel to the rail for an alley to encourage, Big Guy to stay straight and stop cutting in front of me.
In the groundwork, trotting parallel to BG definitely was not working as he constantly went faster, and cut across, to circle.
Today I got closer, with one hand on his halter to keep his head straight — and my other held the whip and the Balance Rein. This allowed me to drop the Balance Rein and then tap with the whip if I needed to encourage the hindquarters to move out more. Or to use the Balance Rein to cue for the downward transition (to walk or halt).
I have two cavaletti set up on the centerline, slightly towards C. These are for walk distance but you could set them for trot. Their position allows you to go over, from either direction, then proceed down centerline to turn left or right. Depending on which direction you approach, you have more time or less to prepare the horse.
The angled cavaletti, at the opposite end, are offset from each corner. As singles, you don’t have to worry about the distance between two and their location is for re-balancing the horse into the corner. It’s important that you set these up so you have enough room for a generous turn and that your horse has time to get straight on the approach.
They are set off from the corner enough that you have the option of “going large” (using the entire rail) without using the cavaletti. I am using them for walk overs, then entering the alley and beginning a trot down the straightaway.
Some tips on using Cavaletti:
When setting them up, make sure the distance between them is right for your horses’ stride. This will be different for a walk then trot stride and can also differ by the horse as some have much longer strides, or shorter, the others.
Make sure you allow enough room that your horse – if he has to turn – can get straight for the approach.
Half-halt before the cavaletti and rebalance yourself. Depending on how much your horse rushes, you may need to do more half-halts.
When riding over cavaletti you should be OFF YOUR HORSES’ BACK. Do not sit trot over cavaletti.
Especially at trot, you may need to give your horse some room in the reins. Often they bring their nose down and forward, and lift the back, when going over. Don’t restrict this movement as this athleticism is greatly desired.
Big Guy definitely did not want to work for me today. But we perserved and there was plenty of treats involved so hopefully he won’t hold it against me — too much.