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oliveoats 09-29-2013 10:57 AM

Cavaletti Training?
Okay, so I am curious about cavaletti training for my horse. He is a 6 year old Tennessee Walking horse with a lovely feeling smooth gait. My only complaint, is he drags his hooves SO bad! He does not do this on the ground, but under saddle he is always dragging them. I was told it's just because he's so mellow, but we rode in a gymkhana where he was EXTREMELY hot and he still drug them. He often trips because he just can't pick them up.

I would love to teach him how to pick up his hooves a bit more in his running walk. I've talked to people at my barn (none of who own gaited horses) and they suggested weighted shoes, elastic bands between the legs, and chains. I am VERY against any type of action device on my horse. I did some thinking and thought of ground poles? Would setting up ground poles, starting at the walk, building up to the running walk, and then raising them to cavaletti's be an option for a gaited horse? I haven't really found much info on cavalettis other than for Dressage horses, but would love to try them with him.

Anyone have any success with this?

amberly 09-29-2013 11:03 AM

Our gaited horse is fine with his hooves - but my non-gaited horse is the king of tripping over his own feet.
I would really suggest putting ground poles up, no only does it help them to pick up his feet, but it also helps them to watch where they place their hooves.
My horse, Brisco, used to drag his feet at a walk and sometimes at a trot, but we have done all gates over poles and small jumps and now he has no problems wit picking up his feet. Every now and then he might get tired and start doing it again - but for the most part he is so much better.

It takes a bit of time and work, but it does help.
I would walk on the ground over the poles first, then walk over the poles both ways at a walk on ground and under saddle so he knows where the poles are before you start going to a trot or higher. I didn't show my horse where the poles were the the first time I did this and he tripped and stepped on the logs and slipped quite a bit. But since I showed him where to step he doesn't have any issues.

Guilherme 09-29-2013 01:52 PM

Cavaletti or ground poles can both be beneficial. I'd start with the gound poles and work up to the more demanding cavaletti.

Often "dragging feet" can be the result of farriery/trimming. How is the horse trimmed?

Frequently it's also the result of lack of strength/fitness. What kind of riding program do you use?

Good on you for rejecting the "leather and iron" solutions so common in this world.


4horses 09-29-2013 01:57 PM

It sounds like a lameness issue. Potentially hocks/stifles. My mare would sometimes walk like she wasn't bending her back legs. Dragging the toes. The vet feels it is her SI joint (pelvis). Her lameness is a grade 1 after flexions (so very very mild).

I would try the cavaletti's though. If he shows any signs of soreness or attitude it might be a pain problem. The vet said my horse needs re-hab exercises to build her topline/ pelvis as she hasn't been willing to use herself correctly due to pain. Lots of cavaletti to build up her back and strengthen her weak areas. That will start in a few weeks. Right now she is on stall rest and bute.

My mare's X rays are clean. It is possible your horse's hocks are fusing or something else is going on to limit him from picking up his feet.

You may want to try a course of bute and see if there is any improvement.

Corporal 09-29-2013 02:24 PM

Cavaletti training helps ANY horse. I used to have four of them and I used them with my lesson horses. My QH, "Ro Go Bar" (1982-2009, RIP), built downhill, used to drag his feet and he improved with cavaletti. I also used them with my QH/TWH cross, "Tyke" (1970-1998, RIP.)
I prefer Cavaletti to just poles on the ground bc the poles, unsecured, can pull leg muscles if the horse gets sloppy and steps on one and it rolls. 'O'
Cavaletti are either secured by plastic blocks or built to 3 heights and will ROLL if the horse hits it. The horse punishes himself if he hits it and I recommend that you use WOOD instead of PVC. PVC can break.
How to Build Horse Cavaletties | eHow
Do NOT stack multiple cavaletti to make jumps!!! You and your horse can get seriously hurt falling into this!!
Instead, just build a simple jump standard with a 4 x 4 and "feet."

amberly 09-29-2013 02:30 PM

I agree - the cavaletti needs to be able to fall if the horse hits it, that way he doesn't trip and fall or something.

What I do to make my jumps, is I take just small wooden poles and put them on top of orange cones. The cones lay on thier sides and the poles sit on the flat edge.

But it does need to be something hard, unbreakable, but sturdy.
I also agree with what corporal said

The horse punishes himself if he hits it
It can be a very good technique and I do recommend using cavelletis!

Corporal 09-29-2013 02:36 PM

I wish I could claim credit for that statement but it Reiner Klimke's words.


oliveoats 09-29-2013 04:37 PM

Hey everyone! Thanks for the input :)

I should have mentioned, I have already had two farriers check mine's work, had a vet check for lameness, checked saddle fit, had a chiro check for any soreness. He has a 100% from everyone, he is in great shape, so it is not a physical issue. He also is in very good shape. He gets out about 4-5 times a week, typically an hour at the gait/canter/transitions in the arena and then 1-3 hour trail ride depending on the timing.


Originally Posted by Corporal (Post 3754049)
Cavaletti training helps ANY horse. I used to have four of them and I used them with my lesson horses. My QH, "Ro Go Bar" (1982-2009, RIP), built downhill, used to drag his feet and he improved with cavaletti.

Sawyer is also built down hill, so I've had to do a lot of work and training in the past to help him be less heavy on his front end. He's improved a lot with that, which is why I would like to start naturally improving his gait even more.

Also, my barn has the cavaletti stand things, where they pop off when they are hit.

Today, I put ground poles out to do a bit of work on them. I wrapped all four of his legs, and I'm glad I did, because his first two times over he just attempted to power through it and fell onto his front knees. After two falls, he got the point and started picking up his legs nicely in the walk and running walk. I will continue to work on this for a while and then think about moving him to the cavalettis.

oliveoats 09-29-2013 04:38 PM


Originally Posted by Corporal (Post 3754129)
I wish I could claim credit for that statement but it Reiner Klimke's words.

Cavalletti: Revised Edition: Schooling of Horse and Rider over Ground Poles: Reiner Klimke, Ingrid Klimke: 9780851317557: Books

I couldn't get your link to work? I will try searching for that when I am home, though.

LadyDreamer 09-30-2013 12:55 AM

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