Once work in walk is established, going over cavalletti in trot is not much more difficult using the layout shown. One or two should be used to start with, increasing to four. They should be set a distance of 1.20-1.30 m and at the lowest height. The rider should lean forwards slightly, taking some weight off the horse’s back and into the stirrups through the thighs and knees. The hands should remain low and quiet either side of the horse’s neck below the crest. The knees should be kept firm to give a secure lower leg. The stirrup leathers should be one or two holes shorter than pure dressage length. Only working trot should be used when training the horse over cavalletti. In working trot the hind feet should step into the prints of the forefeet. The horse should be mentally relaxed, working powerfully forwards and in rhythm. It is important that the back swings and that the horse works from behind and without going on the forehand. The back muscles are strengthened further by the powerful diagonal steps of the trot. For this reason it is important that the horse is ridden in rising trot with a low neck. The deeper the horse stretches, the better the back muscles work.

The best exercise to loosen the back muscles over cavalletti is to allow the horse to chew the bit and take the reins forward and down.

It is fairly easy to drive lazy horses forwards. Some horses attempt to go into canter when they see cavalletti, in which case they should be put back onto the bit with half-halts and giving and taking on the reins.

If a horse goes too fast and raises his nose he becomes stiff over the cavalletti, making his back tight, and he can lose his balance. If he does not settle down after a short time, then go back to using just one. Raising the neck slightly is normal with young horses. However horses with neck and jaw problems, with sensitive backs or mistrust of the bit, need to be dealt with differently. These horses need to work more on accepting a contact without the cavalletti. They should be worked on circles and serpentines until they soften. When they can work deep and a rhythm, then they can trot over the cavalletti. Further exercises such as large voltes, half-halts, or making a transition to halt before the first pole can all settle the horse before quietly attempting the cavalletti.

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