Two-time Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden is one of the top riders competing this week in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington at the CP Palm Beach Masters CSI***-W presented by Sovaro in Florida. Here she shares a favorite gymnastic exercise that increases rideability while saving wear and tear on your horse.
Set up three cavaletti 57 feet apart. Start by cantering over them, putting a nice four strides between the obstacles. Once your horse is doing that smoothly, do five and five strides. Then do variations of that, five strides to four strides, four strides to five strides. If you can do that really well, you can do six strides to four strides and four strides to six strides. You can do this exercise in either direction.
If your horse is getting too aggressive and you can’t fit in whatever striding you want to do, halt before the next cavalletti, circle and start again. You can also jump the first two and stop. Generally, the forward stride to the shorter is the hardest part of the variations for the horses.
This is basically flatwork, putting some “fences” in the form of cavalletti in the flatwork so horses have to learn to lengthen and shorten without fighting or getting distracted by the rider. Using cavalletti instead of jumps also allows you to practice while prevents excessive concussion on your horse’s legs.
When you get good at four strides and all of the other variations, you can make almost a whole little course by adding more cavalletti to the layout in your ring so you can practice adjustability without jumping fences.