Germany’s Ingrid Klimke Explains the Benefits and Advantages of Using Cavaletti for Dressage Work

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Dressageclinic.com is pleased to present this demonstration with well-respected European rider Ingrid Klimke coaching various horse and rider combinations over the two-day NEDA Fall Symposium.     Ingrid Klimke was a guest speaker with veterinarian Dr. Goesmeier at the 2014 event.

Ingrid is no stranger to the equestrian spotlight and has competed in many Olympic and International events.   Her experience training horses has included the use of cavaletti to strengthen and balance her horses.   " I grew up with cavaletti.  I can't even think of schooling without the cavaletti.  Now I have cavaletti every day in my work."    

IngridKlimkeVideo_280W

 

 

 

 

 

 


Watch Sample Video Ingrid Klimke
Face to Face Interview on the Training of Her Horses

Each coaching session had Ingrid utilizing the cavaletti in a specific way to challenge yet not overface the horse.  Young horses were introduced to the cavaletti in pairs with one horse providing courage for the other.  These young horses focused on trot work on half circles and down long sides while grand prix horses were challenged with cantering the cavaletti on a 20 metre circle and other more difficult patterns.   

Here are Ingrid's top cavaletti teachings from the symposium.

Use the Right Tools

Ingrid explains the importance in using cavaletti vs. ground poles.   “Poles can role away and cause damage.”    The cavaletti used by Ingrid are specifically designed to be easily adjusted to various heights by turning one end.  They are made of square foam end blocks to prevent injury and the centre poles are made of wood.  “I have had all types of materials.  Metal makes too much noise.  Plastic is too forgiving.  The horse has to learn from his mistakes.”

As the symposium continues into the next day, horses quickly become aware of their foot placement and rapidly learned to balance and carry themselves during the cavaletti work. 

Spacing

Ingrid spaces her cavaletti 3 feet (80-90 cm) apart for the walk and 5 feet (120-140cm) for the trot.  She allows wider outer distances when cavaletti are placed on a circle.  For example, canter work often has inside cavaletti distances at 2 metres with outer distances at 3 metres on a 20 metre circle.

Stretch to Begin

Before the cavaletti work began, Ingrid insisted on all horses be thoroughly warmed up.  “The first 10 minutes is walk to relax the ligaments and fluid in the joints,” says Ingrid.  Following this, Ingrid focused on stretching where the horse is "long and forward over the back, stretching into your hand at the trot."     At the end of a coaching session, horses were encouraged again to stretch long and low.

IngridPhoto


 

 

 

Tempo and Path

No matter the training level of the horse, Ingrid encourages the riders to manage two aspects for the horse:  the tempo and the path to the cavaletti.  The horse must have energy when he approaches and must be guided to the centre of the cavaletti.    The horse's job is doing the work of going over the cavletti.     The rider must allow the horse the freedom to perform the work and learn from any mistakes he may make.   

Ride Clean

Ingrid encourages clear riding with riders holding their hands above whithers with a fist-width apart allowing the reins along the neck to guide the horse.  Ingrid also desires engagement by using half halts. She continually asks her riders to ‘take and give’ to achieve light, forward contact.

All cavaletti patterns used in the symposium sessions are described in detail in Ingrid's DVD and booklet available from her website. http://www.ingrid-klimke.de

Ingrid’s kind, positive style of coaching produced great results in all horse and rider combinations and engaged the audience over the two days.  Click on the NEDA 2014 Symposium event link to watch a specific horse rider combination.

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J.J. Tate is one of North America’s Leading Dressage Teachers and Trainers: Developing The X-Factor: J.J. Tate On Teaching Horses To Love Their Work

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Article Courtesy by our Partner www.DressageTalk.com

In a classic case of nature versus nurture, dressage trainer and international competitor, Jessica Jo (JJ) Tate, examines exactly what makes horses tick. "We definitely have certain bloodlines (that naturally live to work). I have a Florestan that would literally run through fire for me if that meant doing a good job." However, Tate acknowledges that even though "certain bloodlines promote better listeners", developing horses with good work ethic is a much more complex process than simply good breeding.

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Sure bloodlines are a factor, but Tate says "I don't think that means though that other horses won't try." She believes that riders have a strong responsibility to shape their horse’s will to learn and perform. Much like a muscle that must be conditioned, Tate advocates that work ethic is built intentionally through a program based on positive reinforcement.

"One of the biggest things that is important to me is that the horses feel good in the work and in themselves, and that they feel that the work makes them more confident, and more comfortable in their own skin. We have to give back to horses and make sure that our programs don't exploit them. They are such amazing, generous creatures. I think with proper education people can learn how to build up their horse to the best of their own abilities."

According to Tate, horses that are willing to give their all in the show ring feel prepared physically and mentally, and are carefully monitored to prevent burnout. "When we talk about top level, world class riding you do have to be able to press that last five percent out of the horse, that's for sure, but I like to not squeeze that out of them every day. It's a little bit like a bank account. You have to put your deposits in before you spend the entire big amount. I tell my students that 'when you go to the horse show you're going to spend a lot in that bank account that you've built up' – and that's in both trust, and strength, – so I spend a lot of time during my week before the horse show and even after horse shows building up those important basics, and the horse's willingness to want to please me."

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For Tate, being mindful of a horse's mental state is an important aspect of developing a positive work ethic. It's a process that begins as soon as one comes in contact with a horse and never ends. In general, Tate has experienced that "when horses feel in your spirit that you are fair, and you've explained it, and you've made them strong enough to do it, they will want to do it for you." However, she concedes that horses who have had a difficult start to their riding careers for whatever reason (pain, poor training, etc.), can respond with negative behaviors, and turning that around requires trainers to exercise some critical thinking. "Everyone can tell you the 'what', the thing that the horse is doing – it's rearing, it's spooking, or wants to run off with its head up – and to me it's interesting to figure out why does that horse want to do that? Is it pain related? Is it history? What has made it want to make these choices and how do I help it break that cycle?"

Sometimes the best way to break a cycle with a horse is simply to back the pressure off. Tate explains, "If we get a horse that's been really mentally shut down then we do a lot of outside riding. So a lot of hills and ground poles. We make it fun again. What I really attempt to do is continue to work the horse's body in a beneficial way yet I take the pressure off of them mentally."

Discovering how a horse processes their environment and what constitutes a positive "workplace" for them is the key to inspiring a horse to put forth their best effort says Tate. "I like getting into the horse's brain and exploring how I can convince a horse to do what I want, even if it's just starting in the round pen kind of playing with them. That has even brought some horses out of their shells which is really fun to see."

When you determine the best reward for your horse Tate suggests using it to make the correct response to aids crystal clear. "There are some horses that are very food motivated so piece of sugar is great and they'll do anything for that. Some horses would rather just stop the exercise, so if I have one that's been a little soured the minute he does what I want I just drop the reins, pet him, and walk away" explains Tate. She recalls at times even going to extreme lengths to make sure that her horse knew he had done a good job. "I had one horse learning changes and when he did them I would pet him, give him a sugar, and hand walk him out of the ring. So you have to really know the horse. "

When a horse comes to recognize their individual reward as a signal that they've chosen the correct "answer" to the rider's questions, they quickly become encouraged to offer possible responses even when prompted with new aids. With a horse that understands this pressure-and-release pattern Tate says, "you can often watch them go through their repertoire of 'how can I get the pressure off'? And if you can be really accurate with your timing and really positive when they do the right thing, that's where the really big learning moments come from."

Tate continues, "I'm a real proponent of positive reinforcement. My mentor (Charles De Kunffy) would always say that horses don't understand punishment. They don't process that they made a mistake – their brains don't work that way. If they just accidentally lost their balance and picked up counter canter, or they lost the bend and broke into the trot, and we go smack, smack, smack with the whip, we are just scaring them into a reaction. Then they learn to live in fear of making a mistake, which makes them motivated in the wrong way. We always laugh that the horse should never know that the rider made a mistake. He's just doing what he thought you said."

Lastly, for riders looking to entice that extra effort from their horse under saddle, Tate's final words of advice are to not be a stranger. It seems obvious that a rider should build a connection with their equine partners, but it's such an important component that it cannot be overlooked.

"I want to have a relationship with the horse" says Tate. This becomes even more important if she encounters a new horse with trust issues, or an aversion to work. "I would stay late in the evening and either hand graze it myself or groom them to establish some type of bond." Above anything Tate hopes that her presence elicits a positive reaction from her horses. "I want to walk in the barn and have them stick their heads out, you know. Now half of them whinny to me!"

It's in these moments between horse and rider that Tate believes talent takes shape, when a team is formed, and that special x-factor is born, thrusting good horses into greatness. She says, "I find that when I have a horse that digs deep not because they are afraid of me, but because I inspire them to want to do well for me – I get 100 times more from those horses."

 

Cavaletti explained with Ingrid Klimke at the NEDA Symposium

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Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 5.44.27 PM

Dressageclinic.com is pleased to present this demonstration with well-respected European rider Ingrid Klimke coaching various horse and rider combinations over the two-day NEDA Fall Symposium.     Ingrid Klimke was a guest speaker with veterinarian Dr. Goesmeier at the 2014 event.

Ingrid is no stranger to the equestrian spotlight and has competed in many Olympic and International events.   Her experience training horses has included the use of cavaletti to strengthen and balance her horses.   " I grew up with cavaletti.  I can't even think of schooling without the cavaletti.  Now I have cavaletti every day in my work."    

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 2.19.52 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Ingrid Klimke coach Pam Goodrich riding Zikomo, a 10 year-old Dutch Warmblood schooling Prix St. George.

Each coaching session had Ingrid utilizing the cavaletti in a specific way to challenge yet not overface the horse.  Young horses were introduced to the cavaletti in pairs with one horse providing courage for the other.  These young horses focused on trot work on half circles and down long sides while grand prix horses were challenged with cantering the cavaletti on a 20 metre circle and other more difficult patterns.   

Here are Ingrid's top cavaletti teachings from the symposium.

Use the Right Tools

Ingrid explains the importance in using cavaletti vs. ground poles.   “Poles can role away and cause damage.”    The cavaletti used by Ingrid are specifically designed to be easily adjusted to various heights by turning one end.  They are made of square foam end blocks to prevent injury and the centre poles are made of wood.  “I have had all types of materials.  Metal makes too much noise.  Plastic is too forgiving.  The horse has to learn from his mistakes.”

As the symposium continues into the next day, horses quickly become aware of their foot placement and rapidly learned to balance and carry themselves during the cavaletti work. 

Spacing

Ingrid spaces her cavaletti 3 feet (80-90 cm) apart for the walk and 5 feet (120-140cm) for the trot.  She allows wider outer distances when cavaletti are placed on a circle.  For example, canter work often has inside cavaletti distances at 2 metres with outer distances at 3 metres on a 20 metre circle.

Stretch to Begin

Before the cavaletti work began, Ingrid insisted on all horses be thoroughly warmed up.  “The first 10 minutes is walk to relax the ligaments and fluid in the joints,” says Ingrid.  Following this, Ingrid focused on stretching where the horse is "long and forward over the back, stretching into your hand at the trot."     At the end of a coaching session, horses were encouraged again to stretch long and low.

Tempo and Path

No matter the training level of the horse, Ingrid encourages the riders to manage two aspects for the horse:  the tempo and the path to the cavaletti.  The horse must have energy when he approaches and must be guided to the centre of the cavaletti.    The horse's job is doing the work of going over the cavletti.     The rider must allow the horse the freedom to perform the work and learn from any mistakes he may make.   

Ride Clean

Ingrid encourages clear riding with riders holding their hands above whithers with a fist-width apart allowing the reins along the neck to guide the horse.  Ingrid also desires engagement by using half halts. She continually asks her riders to ‘take and give’ to achieve light, forward contact.

All cavaletti patterns used in the symposium sessions are described in detail in Ingrid's DVD and booklet available from her website. http://www.ingrid-klimke.de

Ingrid’s kind, positive style of coaching produced great results in all horse and rider combinations and engaged the audience over the two days.  Click on the NEDA 2014 Symposium event link to watch a specific horse rider combination.

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