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View Full Version : Cavalettis, strength, and frame



SharonA
Oct. 5, 2009, 09:11 AM
COTH godesses and gods -
What kind of frame should I ask for when schooling over cavalettis at the trot? Do I keep her in a strict (albeit soft, etc., etc.) dressage-y frame, or do I let her release alittle so she has more freedom of movement? This horse has come a huge way and _can_hold a lovely frame at the trot, but it's work for her (which is the point). With repetition and me not giving in, she will eventually relax into her frame over the poles, but should I insist on the frame from the beginning, or let her be alittle more "let out" at first and then ease into the dressage frame?

If you ask the horse, she'll stick her head in the air and hollow her back and swim over the poles, so we can't ask the horse.

scribbles
Oct. 5, 2009, 09:29 AM
My trainer does stretchy over cavalettis, unless she is using them to actually work on collected movements, and the keeps the horse in a more up frame, but still starts out a little softer anyways and works up to it. I think it depends on how high your cavalettis are too.

quietann
Oct. 5, 2009, 11:08 AM
Just doing poles right now, but I like to let my mare have a bit more rein over them. She will lift her back and push on her own... If I ride her with more contact, she gets very "up" and will either rush the poles or try to jump them. I have the poles set 4 feet apart, which is a little bit of a reach for her as she's 15 hands, and that helps her reach.

arielise
Oct. 5, 2009, 11:09 AM
No advice, sorry, but I'd love to see some of the answers as I am going to start schooling one of the mares over then soon.

ThreeFigs
Oct. 5, 2009, 11:13 AM
we're using the cavallettis to strengthen Figgy's hind legs & back. We alternate between work in an "up" frame and stretchy. Eventually we will go through the cavalletti grid in SF.

I only have 6 CavaT stands, so my cavalletti line is usually set up with alternating high and low sides.

If your horse has a tendency to invert, obviously you do what you can to encourage roundness over the poles. After she becomes more comfortable & consistent with the exercise, then you can begin playing with different positions.

We've been working Figgy over cavallettis about twice a week and it's really made a difference. We vary the exercises by doing different things before and after the cavalletti line. For instance, riding a few steps of LY after the cav. line, riding a 10 M circle & asking for a canter depart, transitioning back to trot before turning back to the cav. line. In our case, it's an attempt to keep the added bounce and activity going AFTER the cav. line for longer and longer periods. His topline is stronger, his hind legs are bending & engaging better, and his stretchy trot circle has improved. The dang stretchy trot was our Waterloo till we incorporated cavallettis regularly.

ThreeFigs
Oct. 5, 2009, 11:20 AM
Just to add, I use my poles set a generous five feet apart for both Figgy (16.1) and Bea (14.3). I might have the poles a tad closer together for Bea ( a "stingy" 5 ft.), but she doesn't get much consideration for her size. Her problem is moving forward, and with them set rather far apart, she has to get up a good head of steam to negotiate the line.

She tends to be stiff-backed and would rather jump than do flatwork. Cavalletti lines to small jumps help loosen her back.

rileyt
Oct. 5, 2009, 02:56 PM
These are two rules I don't think are stated enough:

1) Cavaletti are HARD when done correctly

2) For dressage horses, cavaletti are only worth doing when they're done correctly. Doing them incorrectly is counterproductive to dressage training.

Everyone starts hearving about how cavaletti can help dressage training, and they run out and start trotting over poles. To paraphrase one of my favorite clinicians, "Yes, cavaletti can be a valuable training tool for Ingrid Klimke,... but you? You? not so much." :D

Cavaletti help build strength by requiring the horse to articulate his joints more, WHILE HOLDING himself together through his back. I think they're not helpful for young/weak/remedial horses who are still developing a basic level of back strength.

So SharonA, this is my two cents... if your mare is still having trouble staying consistently through her back (while just trotting around on the ground), I'd personally wait on the cavaletti. I think they're more helpful for horses who are, at a minimum, confirmed at Training/First level, and are actively working on things like shoulder-in, medium trot, etc.

To go one step further, I think you can ride them in a "normal" frame, but you should be able to ride them on a longer rein as well--- but if and only if your horse stretches down with the neck, and lifts his back on that longer rein.

SharonA
Oct. 5, 2009, 05:29 PM
So, I more or less let Madame have her head over the poles today. Knowing that I was jussst waiting for her to go hollow, she lowered her head and lifted her back and floated over the poles with "her full Arab on" (neck arched, tail carried just so, waves of "Look at moi! How beautiful I am!" emanating from her amazingly centered body, etc). We did lots of transitions, changes of direction, etc. while throwing in the poles, and Madame carried herself beautifully. It was either the zebra-patterned saddle pad or it was the pole work, but in any case, I'm telling you all about it because you _know_ it won't happen when my trainer gets back at the end of the week. :)

If we wait for me to be as good as Ingrid Klimke before we do things like cavaletti poles, we are all going to be way damn old and also my horse and I will have been bored beyond insanity. If this particular horse and rider (mainly rider) combination waited to get really good at the fundamentals before we toyed with other things, we'd never get off the rail or out on the trail. But it's a nice dream. :lol:

slc2
Oct. 5, 2009, 07:48 PM
COTH godesses and gods -

--Dave's not here.

What kind of frame should I ask for when schooling over cavalettis at the trot? Do I keep her in a strict (albeit soft, etc., etc.) dressage-y frame, or do I let her release alittle so she has more freedom of movement?

--There are small variations depending on what one is trying to and what's going on in the horse's training.

This horse has come a huge way and _can_hold a lovely frame at the trot,

--What do you mean by a frame?

but it's work for her (which is the point). With repetition and me not giving in,

--And me not giving in?

she will eventually relax into her frame

--What does relax into her frame mean?

over the poles, but should I insist on the frame from the beginning, or let her be alittle more "let out" at first and then ease into the dressage frame?

--Um?

If you ask the horse, she'll stick her head in the air and hollow her back and swim over the poles, so we can't ask the horse.

So, I more or less let Madame have her head over the poles today. Knowing that I was jussst waiting for her to go hollow, she lowered her head and lifted her back and floated over the poles with "her full Arab on" (neck arched, tail carried just so, waves of "Look at moi! How beautiful I am!" emanating from her amazingly centered body, etc). We did lots of transitions, changes of direction, etc. while throwing in the poles, and Madame carried herself beautifully. It was either the zebra-patterned saddle pad or it was the pole work, but in any case, I'm telling you all about it because you _know_ it won't happen when my trainer gets back at the end of the week.

--Maybe the horse is just getting used to doing cavalletti.

If we wait for me to be as good as Ingrid Klimke before we do things like cavaletti poles, we are all going to be way damn old and also my horse and I will have been bored beyond insanity. If this particular horse and rider (mainly rider) combination waited to get really good at the fundamentals before we toyed with other things, we'd never get off the rail or out on the trail. But it's a nice dream.

--I know a lot of people would freak at the word 'frame', and it is in fact a problem for dressage if the rider keeps thinking too obsessively about getting the horse to 'assume the position'. I think it's important to not get too carried away with ying-yangin' on the reins to get the horse to put his head down and in. A lot of people pull on one rein and then the other, quickly, and get the horse to drop the contact, and put his head in. They usually say that it's ok if it's done gently, but the problem is the result is the horse is off the bit.

--But the other side of it is, that if the horse IS running around with its head way up in the air, the rider can't do basic things like steer, stop or bend. There has to be some way to get the horse to bend, loosen up its stiff neck and at least to some point, not have his head and neck smacking the rider in the nose.

--Most of the time one is trying to be quiet and maintain a steady, even contact with the reins. Bending, flexing, leg yielding, circling...these aren't to get the horse behind the bit, but to improve the quality of the contact and maintain the contact, not take it away. There's a big difference.

ThreeFigs
Oct. 5, 2009, 11:01 PM
Have you never heard people compare a Third level frame to a Training level frame? We're not referring to a "headset", but to the postural attitude of the whole animal, back to front.

Freak all you want.

slc2
Oct. 6, 2009, 02:34 AM
I don't think anything has 'freaked' me for about 27 years except "Define 'is'".

Well what DO you do over cavallettis, anyway?

I think if one doesn't know how to work the cavallettis into the training of the inverting horse, the best thing is to get a trainer to help one work that out by standing there watching one's horse.

I think that 'how much' to use ones reins over cavalletti is not a fixed thing for all dressage horses.

Too, trainers differ a lot in what they might tell you just in general - one trainer will want a horse very round and deep in the neck over cavalletti, another will try to encourage the horse to just maintain his usual position, and another will encourage the horse to go with a long neck and his nose poked forward, all the way to the folks who want the rider to act like he's a beginner going over a jump on a school horse that needs no riding at all - reins on the buckle, in a half seat, endeavoring not influencing the horse in any way.

Some use cavalletti as a strengthening loosening exercise, and they can get awful cagey about it, walking a tight backed horse over a 'wagon wheel' set of cavalletti is a very interesting way of loosening back muscles. The rider then has to produce that same reaction without the cavalletti, and that isn't always easy, but the exercise sure helps.

For me, the most effective thing I've seen is to go over the cavalletti doing dressage, working on the exact same things one does without cavalletti, and the only thing that's different is the horse is taking a very different upward, round step. Suppling the horse, maintaining a connection, yet trying to encourage the horse to use its muscles freely.

It's not just effective for training the horse, it also works very well to improve the rider's seat and get his hand working more independently. It also gives him confidence (well unless the beast takes off at a mad gallop, LOL). He starts to feel, 'hey, I can do different stuff!' and he gets more effective overall.

I was originally taught to go in a half seat and ride on the buckle, like a beginner hunt seat student.

But I've found that better trainers get a ton out of cavalletti work. They teach some very cagey and not so easy ways of working over cavalletti. Ingrid Klimke's book on cavalletti is a pretty serious example of how far one can go in using the rider's aids and position in cavalletti work.

The horse the OP describes has a basic problem that she is often putting her head up and hollowing out her back. What she might best be doing in that case is different from what someone might do if the horse doesn't have that tendency.

With that sort of horse it's harder to do any sort of work, and an internet formula is really unlikely to save the day.

And no, actually, we are constantly reminded by trainers and clinicians and even magazine articles, occasionally, that there really isn't anything such as a specific training level or third level frame. In theory of course, the posture of the horse certainly changes over time if the training progresses. But horse A starts out in a very different position from horse B, and they look rather different when compared to each other - at every stage.

My point actually was that one does actually need to worry about 'where the head is' because beyond a certain point the horse is unrideable if it's bopping you in the nose with its head, but that whatever one does, needs to focus on suppleness and improving contact, instead of shortening the neck behind the bit.

And no, actually, majority of the time I hear the word 'frame' the rider is indeed concerned about positioning the head and neck more than anything else.

The term 'frame' is supposed to refer to the outline you'd get from the top of the poll to the rearmost reach of the hind foot, but for most folks, the 'frame' is a vertical line in front of the horse that they want to keep the horse's forehead behind and his head down and his chin in.

As time goes on, the words used have moved to more and more correct sounding ones, so 'head set' has become 'roundness' and 'frame' and 'on the bit'(always portrayed with a picture of only the head and neck), and we just get lots of posts here asking, 'how do i get my horse on the bit?' rather than 'how do I get a good headset'?

goeslikestink
Oct. 6, 2009, 04:00 AM
COTH godesses and gods -
What kind of frame should I ask for when schooling over cavalettis at the trot? Do I keep her in a strict (albeit soft, etc., etc.) dressage-y frame, or do I let her release alittle so she has more freedom of movement? This horse has come a huge way and _can_hold a lovely frame at the trot, but it's work for her (which is the point). With repetition and me not giving in, she will eventually relax into her frame over the poles, but should I insist on the frame from the beginning, or let her be alittle more "let out" at first and then ease into the dressage frame?

If you ask the horse, she'll stick her head in the air and hollow her back and swim over the poles, so we can't ask the horse.


hands and position of you not the horse



go to my helpful links pages on the sticky and read all of page one and all links on page one its all relevent dont do any trot poles or cavaletties until youhave mastered the half halt stride and worked your horse on lenghtening and shroterning her strides
using the half halt stride in all tranistions and all paces
useing an independant seat secure leg and soft hands

the half halt stride will help her come of the forehand and be more rounded which is what you want to acheive - being rounded is having the horse between leg and hand and accepting the bit

ThreeFigs
Oct. 6, 2009, 10:21 AM
Good grief, Slc. I use the cavallettis to help strengthen and quicken my gelding's hind legs as well as strengthen his back.

I did a clinic with a German BNT three weeks ago. He got on my boy and had him in an upper level frame (FrameFrameFrame) within minutes. That is, he elevated the horse's front end by getting him to sit more behind. This fellow is over 6 ft tall and outweighs me by 100 lbs. He has the size, the length of leg, the strength and the superior skills to do this within minutes. Me, not so much. I'm 5'4", 132 lbs, fairly fit for 55, but still working on my mad skilz.

I was able to maintain what Stephan established, but it took everything I've got. My coach and I decided that by using cavalletti grids, I have a better chance of developing the horse without putting myself in a wheelchair.

I don't think the OP's horse has a "problem". It's a training issue, a phase. The use of Cavallettis is excellent to get a horse working over the back. You're making too much of it, IMO. And, as usual, you don't know when to stop.

goeslikestink
Oct. 6, 2009, 11:11 AM
Good grief, Slc. I use the cavallettis to help strengthen and quicken my gelding's hind legs as well as strengthen his back.

I did a clinic with a German BNT three weeks ago. He got on my boy and had him in an upper level frame (FrameFrameFrame) within minutes. That is, he elevated the horse's front end by getting him to sit more behind. This fellow is over 6 ft tall and outweighs me by 100 lbs. He has the size, the length of leg, the strength and the superior skills to do this within minutes. Me, not so much. I'm 5'4", 132 lbs, fairly fit for 55, but still working on my mad skilz.

I was able to maintain what Stephan established, but it took everything I've got. My coach and I decided that by using cavalletti grids, I have a better chance of developing the horse without putting myself in a wheelchair.

I don't think the OP's horse has a "problem". It's a training issue, a phase. The use of Cavallettis is excellent to get a horse working over the back. You're making too much of it, IMO. And, as usual, you don't know when to stop.

exactly

just to say when a horse is mosing about grassing its on the forehand what we are asking is the reverse and then ask for his head to go down this is being rounded and acepting the bit via the energy created with your legs

op flat work ok using half halts stride then ground poles then small grids which are and can be cavaletti then if you want to a smal course of jumps

Long Spot
Oct. 6, 2009, 12:26 PM
Good grief, Slc. I use the cavallettis to help strengthen and quicken my gelding's hind legs as well as strengthen his back.

I did a clinic with a German BNT three weeks ago. He got on my boy and had him in an upper level frame (FrameFrameFrame) within minutes. That is, he elevated the horse's front end by getting him to sit more behind. This fellow is over 6 ft tall and outweighs me by 100 lbs. He has the size, the length of leg, the strength and the superior skills to do this within minutes. Me, not so much. I'm 5'4", 132 lbs, fairly fit for 55, but still working on my mad skilz.

I was able to maintain what Stephan established, but it took everything I've got. My coach and I decided that by using cavalletti grids, I have a better chance of developing the horse without putting myself in a wheelchair.

I don't think the OP's horse has a "problem". It's a training issue, a phase. The use of Cavallettis is excellent to get a horse working over the back. You're making too much of it, IMO. And, as usual, you don't know when to stop.

This.