[Part 2 of our Cavaletti exercises – originally featured in Issue No. 7, Horse Health]
Small cavaletti exercises are great because they can be set up almost anywhere there is level ground, adequate space, and decent footing.
If you’ve had your fill of the simple exercises we presented in part one, up the challenge level by trying some of the exercises and formations below.
Four Fence Exercises
With just a few more poles (or fences) and a bit more space the range of exercises grows exponentially. Here are some exercise to work on straightness, lead changes, communication, balance, and bend. Some of them are more difficult than others.
On the flat, the three loop serpentine is a great exercise for working on bend, collection, and change of rein, so why not enhance the exercise by adding some ground poles or low fences.
To execute, place four poles in line down the centre of the arena (evenly spaced apart). At the trot, this is a great exercise for building communication and working on bend and suppleness, and at the canter it is a great tool for working on flying changes.
The Figure Eight (on the diagonal):
On the flat, this is another great training exercise for working on bend and communication. Incorporate your fences by placing four of them in a square at the centre of your arena (around “X”). You should form two pairs of diagonal lines with two fences each.
This exercise is a great test for the rider to improve their communication, aids, and, feel, and ability to think quickly in the saddle. Place two rails on a straight line, and then place one two the right and one to the left of that line (on the diagonal).
Ride straight into the first line of fences at the canter, and then chose which arm of the “Y” to canter over depending on which lead you land after the second rail. If you horse lands on the left lead, go left, and if he lands on the right, go right. You’ll have to think on your toes and be aware of your lead as you come of the second fence in the initial line.
The Full Circle:
If you tried the two rail exercise on the circle, now is the time to increase the challenge by adding some extra rails. Place one ground pole or cavaletti on each of the quarter points of the circle, making a large pinwheel. Trot and canter over this set of rails on the circle to help improve balance, bend, and overall communication with your horse.
A more complex take on the fan rail ground pole exercise (four poles in a fan pattern), this is a great exercise to work on bend and gaits (extension and collection). This exercise will also help build up your horse’s strength and flexibility.
Place four poles in a fan shape, with the inside end of the poles close together (almost touching). When aligned, your fan of poles should be no wider than a half circle. Ride your horse at the trot or canter around the poles in a full circle, making each subsequent circle smaller and smaller until you have reached the center. Then spiral back out again.
For horses that are less experienced or have difficulty collecting their gait, this will be a very challenging exercise.
If you have the space and really want to challenge yourself and your horse, try combining the smaller exercises into one big course. There are a range of possibilities, allowing you to challenge your horse with a combination of activities that engage different muscle groups.