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Rio2016

Who doesn’t get bored going in circles? Olympic Equestrian and TSB author Ingrid Klimke says that riding over cavalletti on circles and half-circles can be a welcome change, not only improving the rider’s seat so it is more secure and balanced, but developing “feel,” as well. And there are many benefits for the horse.

“Cavalletti work on circles and half-circles helps to loosen the horse, and can rectify stiffness on one side or the other, so the horse bends and flexes equally in both directions,” she writes with her father Reiner Klimke in their bestselling book CAVALLETTI. “If a horse is not straight, he will often lose rhythm – this where cavalletti work can help by restoring elasticity and encouraging the placing of the hind feet under the center of gravity.

“Over poles, the horse does not have the chance to step out to the side with the hind legs. The length of stride and placing of the feet is so precise that the horse maintains rhythm by himself. It takes very little practice before the hind feet step into the tracks of the front feet—and the horse becomes straight.

“Riding over cavalletti on circles is especially beneficial for training the horse’s inside hind leg to take weight. Because of this it can be quite strenuous, so avoid doing it for too long.”

Cavalletti1

Set up cavalletti on a circle. One exercise Ingrid recommends is on either end of a figure eight. Pick up a working trot, circling in your horse’s stronger (better) direction, keeping sure your seat light.

2  Just before the cavalletti, move your hands slightly forward, and ride exactly over the center of the cavalletti. If all goes well, change direction, and ride over the cavalletti in the other direction. The aim is to work the horse evenly on both sides, to work on lateral bend and suppleness through the ribs.

3  After working on the circle, do some exercises on the straight: ride forward on the long sides of the arena to re-establish freedom of movement. Riding forward helps overcome any stiffness or resistance.

Cavalletti2

Ride over the center of the cavalletti again, but now on each subsequent circle, make the circle bigger, moving out to where the space between cavalletti is larger, so the horse has to stretch more, making his steps bigger. This means that the inside hind foot must push off the ground with more energy and at the same time take more weight. At this point it is easy to cross the boundary between training to build muscle and straining muscles. For this reason, this exercise should only be repeated a few times, riding each circle just once in each direction every time.

5  Gradually bring the lesson to a finish. It is important to ride some easy exercises that the horse is familiar with at the end of the session. Finishing on a good note makes work the next day twice as easy. After working on circles a few times, allow the horse to stretch.

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For more cavalletti exercises from Ingrid Klimke, check out her book CAVALLETTI, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

And if you are a dressage rider, don’t miss Ingrid’s new DVD series TRAINING FOR DRESSAGE HORSES—the first level is now available!

TSB wishes Ingrid Klimke and all Olympic equestrians the best of luck in Rio 2016!

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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The Four-Leaf Clover Exercise from TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES.

The Four-Leaf Clover Exercise from TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES.

 

Incorporating simple traffic cones or ground poles in your daily training and riding lessons not only provides visual interest and physical guidelines for your horse as he moves around the ring, it also gives you a means of developing accuracy in your schooling figures and transitions. In TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES, trainer Sigrid Schope provides over 40 exercises that will help improve your horse’s movement and response to our aids, as well as your own overall riding experience. This weekend, try this simple exercise:

The Four-Leaf Clover

You need four traffic cones, available from many supply or hardware stores. You can also use four empty buckets in place of cones—remove the handles and place them upside down.

The four-leaf clover is a great way to gymnasticize your horse and keep things interesting in the arena, using voltes (small circles of 6, 8, or 10 meters in diameter) in a simple pattern. The cones will serve as center-points, around which voltes will be ridden. This makes daily schooling of circles and changes of direction more fun, providing a point of reference to help you ride a more perfect figure and increasing the horse’s attention to your subtle aids.

1  In one half of your riding area or arena, place your four cones in a square shape, with equal distances between each. My recommended distance between the cones is between 20 and 30 feet (6 to 9 meters) or 8 to 12 giant steps.

2  Begin the exercise by riding from what would be the letter “C” on the short side of a dressage arena up to the centerline (see diagram). Focus on the first cone to your right, and ride a volte around it. A correct seat and position are important when riding this exercise. Use your inside rein (inside the circle) to position your horse on the bending line, and weight your inside seat bone. Bring your inside shoulder a little back and your outside shoulder a little forward. Encourage your horse forward with your inside leg at the girth. The outside leg “guards” just behind the girth, preventing the hindquarters from swinging out.

3  As soon as you are back on the centerline, change the bend and make a left volte around the first cone to your left.

4  Return to the centerline and ride a few strides straight ahead until you are across from the second cone to your right.

5  Repeat the pattern you just rode, completing a volte to the right, returning to the centerline to change the bend, and riding a volte around the final cone to your left.

6  Finish the four-leaf clover by walking or trotting straight ahead on the centerline at X in a straight line.

Begin by completing the four-leaf clover at the walk, move on to the trot when the walk seems easy, and try the exercise at the canter when you are very confident in your horse’s focus and your own riding ability.

It is important in this exercise to prepare your horse at the right time for a change of bend. Think about your weight and leg aids; stay erect in the saddle. Try to ensure that the horse doesn’t fall out over his shoulder or swing his haunches to the outside.

The four-leaf clover looks easier than it is! It takes a lot of concentration on the part of horse and rider to complete this exercise well. And as you increase speed or gait, you must be more precise about the timing of your aids.

 

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Get more great exercises using cones and poles in TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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"Cavalletti work is invaluable for all riders and every horse, no matter what stage they are at," say Ingrid and Reiner Klimke in their influential book CAVALLETTI.

“Cavalletti work is invaluable for all riders and every horse, no matter what stage they are at,” say Ingrid and Reiner Klimke in their influential book CAVALLETTI.

 

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.

They improve fitness: Slowly increasing the amount and difficulty of the work over cavalletti increases the efficiency of the horse’s heart and lungs.

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.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

 

NEDACavalletti

 

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.

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