Set up: Begin with rails on the ground set 9 feet apart for each bounce element. The distance between bounce "sets" is 15 meters so if you were to connect all three "sets" on a serpentine you would be making 15 meter loops (the most challenging version of this exercise).
Tips: As with all of my cavaletti exercises I use them at the walk to begin, simply adding them in during my warm up. Since the distance is not set specifically for the walk you can use an individual bounce set to allow the horse to think for itself. Be aware of keeping the horse straight even when on a loose rein so they do not learn to deal with awkward distances by bulging or drifting through the body. This is an exercise that will also focus on turning so also be aware of keeping the horse aligned through the turns so that they are straight as they come out of the turn and approach the cavaletti.
How to: Looking at the set up you'll find that there are many options. I'll outline a typical pattern...
- Trot the 2 outside cavaletti sets staying on a 30 meter oval so that you are straight for at least 4 steps before and after the rails and making an even arc between the 2 sets. Find the correct quality to the trot to allow for an even 2 steps between the 2 rails without altering the horses frame or alignment. Repeat several times in each direction.
- Add the middle cavaletti set while at the trot. Now the turns will be 15 meter arcs so give the horse a slightly longer straight path before and after each set in order to allow for enough time to balance both before and after the rails. As a challenge for the rider change your posting diagonal by staying up the extra beat as you go through the middle cavaletti rather than sitting to change.
- When you're ready to work at work on the canter go back to the 30 meter arc and use the outside sets again. Give yourself 3-4 strides both before and after the rails to ensure balance and straightness. Again the goal is to find the right base canter to keep the exercise smooth for your horse. The more you remain aware of the quality of the canter around the arc the better your chances of finding a good stride to the bounce. For many horses this exercise is as far as I would need to go as I can modify it to work on lengthening on the curve and being able to transition back to my working canter for the rails. I can also play around with how many strides before and after the rails I need in order to achieve straightness following the curve. Counting those strides and trying to replicate the same number several times is a great exercise for the rider.
- With a lower level horse I may wait to add this additional challenge until another day. If your horse has sailed through the first stages then I continue right on to adding the middle element just as in the trot. There is the option of either working on flying changes through the middle bounce set or, just as beneficial, work on efficient simple changes after the middle set.
- As you can see in the photo I also have this exercise tied into small jumps to add to the challenge so check back for the additional exercises...