We use cavalletti to help the horse develop properly in these key
areas. Cavalletti work will be done in the saddle as well as on the ground.
Body awareness- The horse learns how to become more careful while negotiating a
series of poles or raised cavalletti. We will stager the poles, differ
their height and put them at varying distances so the horse has to think about
where he places each foot. This simulates what a horse may negotiate when in
nature, thus making him more surefooted. Staggering cavalletti also
encourages the horse to lower its head to analyze where the poles are
placed. By lowering his head he lifts his back and stretches his topline.
Nature offers us a perfect setting for natural cavalletti and greatly increases
Riding in the desert over rough
terrain helps increase body awareness. This horse understands the purpose in following Jacks forward focus.
Balance and self-carriage- Placing cavalletti at equal and correct
distances for each gait, will encourage the horse to properly balance (with or
without a rider) while maintaining correct cadence. He learns to
use his body symmetrically developing both sides equally which helps the unbalanced one sided horse become
It will also encourage the horse engage his hindquarters and lift his back. As the cavalletti training progresses you see a distinct development of self carriage
with the horse effectively using his ring of muscles.
Rhythm- By properly placed poles for each gait, the horse learns how
to maintain a consistent rhythm, tempo, and cadence while negotiating the cavalletti.
This consistent rhythm and tempo can then be carried onto the flat. It is important to
understand each horses individual rhythm and stride length when starting
them over cavalletti. We always start where the horse is comfortable and
then make adjustments from there. As the training progresses the
cavallitti can be placed at different heights or distances to encourage the
horse to elevate, lengthen or shorten his stride while maintaining proper engagement and
Conditioning- We consider conditioning to be mental as well as physical.
Mentally the horse becomes more confident and sure because he learns how to carefully place his feet. He becomes keen and thoughtful when negotiating obstacles.
(jumps, natural banks, etc.) Physically, Work over the cavalletti helps build the muscles necessary for all disciplines. It increases the action, animation
and expression of each of
the gaits. It helps the horse stretch and become more supple increasing
the horses balance and self carriage.
Snow makes for a great natural form of cavalletti. This horse is confidently gathering through his topline.
Average distance for cavalletti
at each gait:
This is just a basic guideline, each horse has a slightly
different length of stride. A Quarter Horse vs. a large Warmblood will
have considerable differences in their length of stride. Poles MUST be
placed for the horse as an individual when beginning cavalletti work. Never
overexpose the horse and cause him to be unsure or nervous in his work, always
stay within his means. Only when the horse has become confident over cavalletti
may you change the distance to encourage the horse to lengthen, shorten or
elevate his stride.
Walk- 2ft 6in to
3ft 4in. between each rail and approximately 6-8inches in height.
Trot- 4ft to 5ft
between each rail and approximately 6-8inches in height.
Canter- 9ft to 10ft
6in between each rail and approximately 1foot to 1foot 8inches in height.
Paula progressing a green horse through a gymnastic grid. This horse is being ridden in a rope halter.
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