Cavalletti exercises are excellent for helping your horse develop rhythm, build his topline, gain confidence over obstacles and become a better athlete.
Proper placement of the cavalletti, or even of ground poles, is critical. If the poles are too close together you will cause the horse to shorten his gait; too far apart and it will cause your horse to rush or become unbalanced. You should always start your horse over distances that are natural for your horse. Once you’ve established rhythm and balance you can adjust the distances to enable training. For example, increasing the distance between the poles can help your horse build the strength to hold a trot lengthening.
- For work at the walk, place poles 3 feet apart, starting with poles on the ground.
- For work at the canter, start with the poles 9 feet apart.
- When your horse is comfortable with this distance and no height, then raise one side of the poles without changing the distance.
- You can begin to increase the distance between the cavalletti once your horse is moving rhythmically through the series. This will help your horse build the strength to sustain suspension.
Tips and Warnings
- Cavalletti work is very tiring for horses. Make sure to take breaks and do not overdo the exercises.
- Every horse is different. Be prepared to adjust the distances to suit your horse.
- It’s much easier to set up cavalletti when you have someone on the ground to help you. Otherwise you’ll be hopping off your horse every time he knocks a pole out of position.