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Adding Something New to the Mix
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Adding Something New to the Mix

I decided to make a couple Cavaletti poles for ground work. Mind you, I am using what I can find around my house so the "poles" are not standard size by any stretch of the imagination. They are rather short and flat, so I suppose I should call them Cavaletti boards. They are 4" in height and about 4' long. As you can guess, Cookie would much rather go around on either side of them than go over them. She is getting the hang of it though. I am determined, and encouraged that with enough time, she will go over them without a hitch and without catching them with her feet. 

I walked her over these boards a couple of times so she would get the idea of what I am asking of her. On a side note, I will be getting much longer poles for this exercise in the future. She did all right, considering it was virtually her first time. Funny though, she did better at the trot than the walk, and going to the right was better than going to the left. 

A couple of times she wanted to take off and gallop, and I pulled her back down to a trot. She began tossing her head and occasionally coming to a full stop, facing me, with her ears pinned. Oh she is quite the riot at times, with her frisky attitude and fiesty beginnings. 

Once she went over the boards several times each way, I pulled the boards to the side and tacked her up for more flexing. I thought today I would try her bell boots on her to help prevent over-reaching and bumping of her coronet bands. If you want to end up in hysterical laughter, and your horse has never had on bell boots, try it. Cookie went from a lazy, plodding, dragging-he-toes mare, to a high stepping, un-sure of herself steed. It was the absolute funniest thing I have ever seen. Unfortunately, her bells don't fit quite right, so I had to take them off. I'm sure she was relieved. Besides, she is still adjusting to having splint boots on, so I guess one adjustment at a time is best anyhow. 

I moved her out and around both ways while being "drawn up" and today she did much better. She didn't fight the bit nearly as much and had a nice verticle tuck going. After about 10 minutes or so walking and trotting this way, I looped the reins loosely through the handle on the bareback pad so she could stretch her neck and relax for about 10 minutes.  Then I shortened and tied the reins to the handle of my bareback pad and this time she decided trotting just wasn't fast enough. She does this little jump up, head toss thing when I ask for a trot. This just tells me she's full of energy and needing to expel it. Her preference of doing so is usually in high speed accompanied by bucks, farts and a few snorts here and there. With the reins shortened, causing her to flex at the poll, she wasn't sure how she was going to go faster, do all this playing around and keep her balance. Much of the nonsense was over quickly though and she opted instead to listen to my instruction. 

At the end of this session today, she did try to push her nose down to the ground several times. She would rather fight the bit, than give into it. This being only day two of this flexing and giving to the bit, I am pretty sure this lesson is going to take a while for her to learn and that's quite alright. I know eventually it will "click" for her and we'll be able to move onto the next lesson. 


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  1. Jane
    What's the weather like where you are? If it's generally dry I have an idea for you- I know of someone else who went to a carpet shop & asked for the long cardboard tubes in the middle. They are pretty sturdy (obviously because they have to resist bending with the weight of the carpet). You just have to make sure they're kept dry. A lick of varnish will make them showerproof & if you want to go the whole hog you can paint them up like proper jump poles. Alternatively you may already know that you can get coloured plastic sleeves that slip on over the poles. Best of luck with Cookie- I learned so much from my first horse & it was amazing. Voted, by the way!
    1. Rene Wright
      Rene Wright
      I live in the Southeast. The weather this year has been crazy. Raining more than not, though I think we're headed into the rest of the summer with oppressive muggy heat. Great idea about those carpet tubes and varnish! Thank you! I'll have to call around and see if any of the local companies have any. :D Thank you for the well wishes and vote!
  2. Teshaw R

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