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Olympian Ingrid Klimke is known for her positive horse training techniques, as well as her remarkable success in international competition. In this exercise from her forthcoming book TRAINING HORSES THE INGRID KLIMKE WAY, she provides a terrific challenge for the horse and rider who have mastered regular cavalletti work.

See if you are up to the challenge:

Position four trot cavalletti on one side of a circle and four canter cavalletti on the opposite side. Use cones to mark the point for two transitions: one upward to canter and one downward to trot.

TROTCANCHALL

 

Canter over the canter cavalletti, transition down to the trot precisely at the cone, and ride over the trot cavalletti. Then transition to canter with precision at the next cone. This must be schooled in both directions. You must always be looking ahead to the next cone or cavalletti.

This exercise speaks to all the valuable elements of cavalletti work and trains the horse’s entire musculature. The transitions reinforce throughness with willing cooperation and precise transitions at a distinct point. Maintaining longitudinal bend and going over the eight cavalletti on the circle are real strength-builders.

See how you do!

Some of the overall advantages of cavalletti work for the horse:

·      Improves rhythm and balance in movement

·      Gymnasticizes

·      Strengthens the musculature

·      Loosens the muscles (especially over the back)

·      Improves long-and-low stretch

·      Increases suppleness

·      Improves surefootedness

·      Conditions

·      Increases expressiveness in the gaits

·      Encourages cadence

·      Builds concentration

·      Improves motivation through independent thought

Cavalletti-SetFor those interested in engaging cavalletti work more intensively, Klimke wrote a book with her father, the renowned Reiner Klimke, called CAVALLETTI: FOR DRESSAGE AND JUMPING, and she has also produced an accompanying DVD. Both are available HERE.

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

 

 

 

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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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Many horses prefer loosening up at the canter.

Many horses prefer loosening up at the canter.

The Third Edition of the international bestseller BASIC TRAINING OF THE YOUNG HORSE has just been released. This classic work by the late Dr. Reiner Klimke and his daughter, German Olympian Ingrid Klimke, provides the foundation for a basic education for the English sport horse, from foalhood to first competition.

One of the elements emphasized in the book is the importance of “loosening up” not just before, but after a training session:

“We like to begin by loosening the horse up over cavalletti,” they state [note: CAVALLETTI, another book coauthored by the Klimkes, is also available], “and going for a short hack after the training session, or else going for a hack before riding some dressage exercises in the school. Sometimes we loosen the horse up by cantering in a light seat on straight lines around the exterior of the school before going into the school itself. This preparatory work must be fun for both horse and rider, in fact, it goes without saying that it must be a good experience for the horse so that he is calm and prepared for training.

“Every session is made up of three parts: loosening up, working, and walking to end with. For the young horse, this means loosening up, working, and further loosening. Loosening up in walk, trot, and canter to get rid of tension is essential before the rider can drive the horse forward. With older horses (more than five years old) loosening up should last about 15 to 20 minutes.”

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Get more great guidance in BASIC TRAINING OF THE YOUNG HORSE, available now from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE to order.

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All it takes is one traffic cone to change your riding and your horse's riding experience.

All it takes is one traffic cone to change your riding and your horse’s riding experience.

Every rider knows the kinds of activities and exercises you can do with your horse in the ring—circles (lots and lots of circles), bending lines and serpentines, upward and downward transitions…depending on your discipline and style of riding, the options number many! But what do you do when your circles look like eggs, your horse isn’t bending evenly through the serpentine, or he’s dragging his feet so lifelessly through the sand that you would rather just get off?

In TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES, author Sigrid Schope provides more than 40 exercises using simple, affordable tools that make your “eggs” round, your serpentines smooth, and your horse energized, to name just a few benefits.

Try this: Place a cone in the middle of the ring (at “X” in a dressage arena). Ride around the ring on the rail, looking toward the cone before asking the horse to turn at the center of one of the short sides (“A” or “C” if the dressage letters are marked) and riding directly toward it. Here are 6 ways that single traffic cone will improve your riding:

1   Your “plan” and focus on the cone will cause you to hold the reins more softly, improving connection and contact.

2  Thinking about where you want to ride and at what gait helps you prepare your horse properly, rather than suddenly “attacking” him with your aids.

3  Your focus on the cone will help you hold your head and upper body straight, and you will find your horse will move on a straight line toward your goal. Your head, shoulders, and body will follow your eyes, and this will also direct your horse.

4  Looking ahead toward an end point will cause a sluggish horse that lacks impulsion to pick up his tempo.

5  Practicing simple lines with a clear goal helps you learn to ride more precisely.

6  Incorporating “props” in your riding exercises adds interest for the horse, improving his concentration while making the training process more engaging.

 

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For lots of easy ways to become a better rider while ensuring both you and your horse are having fun together in the ring, check out TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

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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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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It is essential for all ridden horses to maintain suppleness in their back and loins. By contracting the horse’s abdominal muscles, the back will stretch. The abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, internal and external abdominal oblique) as well as the hip flexors (iliopsoas) are responsible for lumbo-sacral and hip flexion. When these muscles contract, the horse’s bottom line is shortened while the top line is lengthened. The hindquarters become more engaged, the horse becomes more comfortable to ride, and his weight-bearing capacity is improved.

The lumbo-sacral joint is very important, as keeping it supple will help create engagement and develop power, improving the horse’s athletic ability, such as increasing his capacity to lengthen stride. This joint is also important for the maintenance of balance.

 

Here are the trunk and loin extensor muscles and their functions:

Trunk Extensors

 Spinalis thoracis extends the thoracic vertebrae.

Longissimus thoracis extends the vertebral column.

Iliocostalis thoracis extends the vertebral column.

Multifidus thoracis and lumborum twist the vertebral column.

Serratus dorsalis caudalis extends the thoracic vertebrae.

 

Loin Extensors

Medial gluteus extends and abducts the hip, but with its connection to longissimus lumborum extends the loins.

Accessory gluteus assists the medial gluteus.

Longissimus lumborum extends the lumbar spine as well as the hip through its connection to the medial gluteus.

All these muscles are interconnected from the croup to the poll. Contraction of the abdominal muscles will lead to stretching of the entire group of extensors. During the contraction of the abdominals, the horse’s back becomes rounded, the loin flexes, and the hindquarters are drawn under the body.

 

3 Active Stretch Exercises for the Trunk and Loin Extensors

In order to stretch the loins actively the iliopsoas (iliacus and psoas major) and the abdominal muscles have to contract.

 

1   Walk and trot over 6 to 8 ground poles, encouraging the horse to stretch his head and neck down. Keep the first and last poles spaced a little closer than the middle poles. If the distance of the first two poles is too long and you do not bring the horse close enough to the first pole, he will take an extra step in the first or second space. If all the poles are of an equal distance and the distance is too long, he will take an extra step in the last space. By putting extra steps in, he will thus shorten his stride instead of lengthening it.

 

Walk and trot over ground poles. Note that the first and last poles are placed closer together.

Walk and trot over ground poles. Note that the first and last poles are placed closer together.

 

2  Incorporate backing-up (rein-back) exercises into your riding session. Start with a few steps only, then slowly build up to 6 to 8 steps. Next, back up a slight incline—note that this has a very strong stretching effect on the loin extensors, so start with only one or two steps then increase the amount slowly. Do not repeat this exercise too many times as it may cause muscle strain. Backing up is physically difficult for the horse, since he has to lift his hind legs one at a time without putting his weight on his forehand. This means that the one hind leg has to carry the horse’s weight while the other is moving backward, and vice versa.

 

Backing up a slight incline has a very strong stretching effect on the horse's loin extensors.

Backing up a slight incline has a very strong stretching effect on the horse’s loin extensors.

 

3   All transitions strengthen the abdominal muscles and the iliopsoas and therefore stretch the loin muscles. Start with trot-walk-trot transitions and progress to trot-halt-trot transitions. To perform these correctly the horse will have to bring his hindquarters more underneath him. Move on to canter-trot-canter transitions and when the horse can master this with balance and ease, do canter-walk-canter transitions. The latter exercise develops the most power in the bottom line muscles and stretch in the top line.

 

 

StretchExerciseshcspFind more excellent and easy-to-do stretch exercises to help prepare your horse to perform better, as well as keep him healthy and happy in STRETCH EXERCISES FOR YOUR HORSE, available at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

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