Oh L!

Sorry, I know the titles for these exercises get worse and worse!! For this exercise I have used my cavaletti, but you can use poles on the ground, or raised too.

So as the name might suggest, we’re using two cavaletti/poles this week, placed in an ‘L’ shape. This is a very easy exercise you can ride over or indeed lead in hand or long rein. It is also a good workout for the horses muscles.

There are many more muscles involved than mentioned here, and several serve more than one purpose, but the main muscles include the following;

When on the bending/circle part of the exercise, it extends and flexes muscles such as the splenius and brachiocephalicus in the neck, encourages the latissimus dorsi in the shoulder to flex it lateroflexes each singular longissimus dorsi muscle through the neck in to the back and works the gluteal hip extensors.

Whilst travelling over the cavaletti/pole, the trapezius muscle pulls the shoulder forwards, back and up while the hamstring muscles the semimembranosis and semitendonosis work together to extend the hip, adduct the hind limb and lift the limb through the hock.

From a rider/handler point of view, this exercise encourages focus on accuracy by keeping the circles even, and not overshooting the turn to take the next cavaletti/pole in the sequence. You should be aiming for the centre each time. You also need to think about the tempo and rhythm of the gait, and ensure nothing changes on the turn, or indeed over the cavaletti/pole.

As this exercise works each side of the horse evenly, there isn’t such an urgency to ensure the workout is completed evenly on both reins, but it is always good to change the directions of the approach to add variety to the exercise and to keep it interesting.