A great way to continue legging up a horse coming back from winter break while continuing to improve the technical skills is to use cavaletti exercises. Once my horses are comfortable with the basic version of this exercise as I described in March I like to add small jumps in to work on what I refer to as "flatwork over fences". The exercise in this photo is fairly straightforward and works a lot on maintaining a balanced medium canter while coming through short approaches and changes of direction. Something we can never practice enough!
One of the biggest challenges in eventing is simply time... we essentially train a horse in 3 disciplines and wonder why it's difficult to make progress. My way to combat this challenge is to make the most of my training rides by incorporating multiple elements. It keeps things interesting for the horse and sharpens the rider without having to subject the horse to any excess pounding. Whether it's working on my dressage out on hilly terrain or frequently incorporating cavaletti into my daily work I am able to address many issues that I face in the jumping phases while continuing to develop the physical and mental aspects needed in the dressage ring. The photo above is a view of my ring with a variety of exercises set up, one in particular that I will describe as I have used it for horses at all levels of training and fitness.
Again I am not quite organized with the photo taking of the exercises but I've made a simple addition to Delta's previous canter cavaletti exercise. She has mastered the one-stride rails on a curve so the next challenge is to incorporate an actual jump.
Canter cavaletti on a curve with a Jump
This year I'm trying a new plan to start the season. I decided to compete at the Poplar Place Horse Trials in January as a way to get a good sense of where each horses' performance stands so early in the year. That way I can make the most of the 2 1/2 weeks I have planned in Ocala which will be dedicated to training and conditioning. The goal is to put a good base on the horses so that I can travel back to Virginia via the Pine Top Horse Trials and work from home for the majority of the winter/spring season. This training time will be especially important to get to know my newest partner, "Shame on the Moon" (aka Delta), as she has only been in the barn since the beginning of December.
First up for her is a get-to-know-you lesson with DOC. While the majority of the feedback during our show jumping lesson was positive there was one very clear area that needed my attention. It came as no surprise