Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Fun With Poles: In which I channel my inner Klimke

I don't know if you're familiar with the Klimke family, but I hope you've at least heard the name. The famous Reiner Klimke and his fabulous but, ahem, quirky horse Ahlerich, have always been huge inspirations for me. Any sort of hot and sensitive horse that can deliver a test like Ahlerich's in the 1984 Olympics is worth emulating. (Especially based on Friday's ... sensitive ... test.)

But the the movement Ahlerich and Klimke push me to master the most is the flying change, a movement the pair showed off to perfection in their Olympic victory lap.

Of course, Pig isn't quite up to Ahlerich's level of relaxed sensitivity and cue awareness, and my riding only resembles Dr. Klimke's in that I am also a human atop a horse. So, we have a long way to go.

Still, the Klimke family is full of good advice and exercises, so I decided to take some advice from Dr. Klimke's equally successful daughter Ingrid and turn to cavaletti to assist with my dressage training. Ingrid, a 4* eventer and Grand Prix dressage rider, advocates the use of cavaletti for dressage horses. She encourages using them for mental variety, strength building, and to improve the horse's gaits. Ingrid is the master of cavaletti exercises...

I've long loved the idea of using cavaletti for strength building (get those stifles in gear!) and for encouraging more cadence and lift in Pig's trot steps. Of course, Pig was a former jumper, so I know I have to be a little careful when reintroducing him to work over poles. Not because he'd take to it poorly, but more because of excess enthusiasm...
EXCITE!!
I set up the poles a couple of trot strides apart, just to be on the safe side. I didn't want Pig leaping in like a fool and getting his legs tangled up in super close poles. (Have I mentioned his poor coordination?) At first we just trotted through the regular poles on the ground.
Honestly, I could have stopped there. The regular poles seem to have gotten exactly out of him what I wanted. His trot grew more animated, engaged, and suspended. But, I was interested to experiement with raised poles. So, up they went a few inches off the ground...
And hilarity ensues...
It's here that my ex-jumper decided that this was clearly a very neat bounce exercise, and proceeded to neatly leap right through the whole thing.

Man. I wish this horse was still a jumper sometimes.

Anyway... we continued, and I tried to install a half halt mid leaping pole exercise...
Look, Mom! A piaffe! We are totally ready for Grand Prix now!
But finally we got it!
The graceful Ingid Klimke I am not...
Honestly? I think I got more out of the plain poles on the ground. Maybe our strength isn't high enough for these fancy raised cavaletti yet, and I certainly cannot manage to ride them quietly. Add this sucker to the goals list...

29 comments:

  1. I used to use raised cavaletti all the time with my second horse - without even thinking about it. Now I struggle with just regular poles :( Like Pig, Fiction is quite enthusiastic over poles!

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    1. Canter poles are seriously our biggest downfall. Can. Not. Do.

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  2. I haven't dared to try raised cavaletti with Stinker. He gets me discombobulated over poles with how much suspension and lift he adds. Pig looks good even when he tries to be a jumper

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    1. I wouldn't have tried this even a year ago, but my control over Pig's body is much better. I figured it's worth it at this point. Before, I was afraid he would just go hollow the whole time and be a big mess.

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  3. Love the gigs, you guys are such an awesome team I have no doubt that you'll be acing these in no time with your dedication and amazing abilities *nod*

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    1. Haha, I think it's mostly the horse...

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  4. Bahaha oh pig... Tho then again Isabel is convinced that anything with daylight (however slim!) between it and the ground should be jumped too so.... Yea

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  5. I love cavaletti work! Penn had a tough time figuring it out- he'd try to jump everything, bound through, run through, drag his feet... I really like the single step poles better, but like you, I was afraid of what would happen if Penn didn't go with the 'one step in between' idea. He did work it out as soon as I stuck 4-6 poles in front of him, and as long as my jumping tendencies done kick in (kick on hard at the first one, pull him around, micromanage him) it usually works out!

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    1. I think I'm going to try single step poles next time. After reviewing the video and thinking about how things went, I think the whole purpose will be clearer to him.

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  6. Replies
    1. Once a good jumper, always a good jumper... :)

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  7. Poor Pig just wants to do the jumping!

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    1. Denying this horse jumping was heartbreaking for a long time.

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  8. He looked quite catty through those bounces!

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  9. Aw I just love the bounce one. He trotted in and then his ears pricked like "ooooh! jumps!!"

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  10. Pig looks SO EXCITED! I love it.

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  11. His bounce through the raised poles is lovely though; perfect striding.

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    1. He is the George Morris of horses. Always perfect. Always bitchy. Always judging. ;)

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  12. Ah I love it and I miss caveletti's we used to have a ton when Buddy Brown was here but he took them with him when he left. My trainer doesn't really believe in them >:[

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  13. Very elegant... and enthusiastic. I bet Pig would go to a party and eat all the pizza before anyone else could have any. But he'd look good doing it. But we did just just meet, so it's hard to get a complete read on the situation.

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  14. Lawlz. Great idea for exercises though. Awesome for strength building and keeping the hamsters in their heads busy. Griffin is cursing my recent introduction of cavaletti exercises, but TOUGH. I think they're grand.

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  15. I have always been afraid of pole exercises because of all the excitement

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