We’ve all seen them, and most of us have ridden over or through them at one time or another. Whatever your discipline, cavalletti–poles made from wood or synthetic material and raised off the ground at varying heights—are “invaluable for all riders and every horse, no matter what stage they are at,” write Ingrid Klimke and her father the late Dr. Reiner Klimke in the international bestseller CAVALLETTI.
Here are 8 reasons why we all should use cavalletti, whether preparing our horses for jumping, the dressage ring, ranch work, or pleasure and trail riding:
1 Cavalletti work develops strength in particular muscles by asking the horse to move in a specific and controlled way. For example, the horse becomes more sure-footed as a result of lifting his feet high to go over the cavalletti, and then placing them back on the ground between the poles.
2 Cavalletti allow more demands to be made on the horse’s legs without compromising the quality of the gaits, namely walk, trot, and canter.
3 They are useful for loosening muscles and relieving stiffness. For example, riding a horse over cavalletti with his neck lowered and stretching forward and downward will help specific back muscles to contract and relax, effectvely loosening any tightness and helping the horse find or regain his natural rhythm.
4 They improve fitness: Slowly increasing the amount and difficulty of the work over cavalletti increases the efficiency of the horse’s heart and lungs.
5 Cavalletti help a young or green horse learn to balance with a rider on his back, and they will improve his confidence, particularly in preparation for being ridden over uneven ground.
6 They enable the rider to gain an understanding of the horse’s psyche and how to bring out the best in him: Does he remain calm or become excited as you approach cavalletti or change the pattern or height of the poles? By altering cavalletti exercises, the rider can begin to learn how to control a particular horse’s reactions to certain scenarios.
7 Strategic use of cavalletti can improve the quality of the horse’s walk and trot, the rhythm and regularity of his movement, and build impulsion and cadence over time.
8 Perhaps most importantly: Training with cavalletti adds interest and challenge to your horse’s training session. “Monotony prevents learning,” write the Klimkes. Keep your time with your horse enjoyable for you both!
CAVALLETTI is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
Ingrid Klimke is headlining the 2014 NEDA Fall Symposium at Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, Massachusetts, November 1 & 2. CLICK HERE for more information or to register.