To develop and expand a horse’s capability, a program consisting of dressage, grids, and cavalettis promote balance, straightness, and proper muscle memory development. By focusing on these areas, the horse develops a base that is both physically strong and mentally confident. However, each horse has individual and sometimes special needs. Development exercises and timing need to be flexible to suit each horse and his physical and/or mental state. This requires an extensive library and variety of tools. Training exercises are based on tools derived from experience riding with diverse and talented coaches that represent dressage, showjumping, eventing, and general horsemanship. Exercises are adopted from (and credited to) Sandy Phillips, Eric Smiley, Ginnie Bryant, Sally O’Connor, David O’Connor, Joe Fargis, Robin Sundeen, and Gene Lewis.
Dressage exercises such as leg yield down the rail, “riding a square”, shoulder-in to half-pass, and extension-collection maintaining straightness.
Cavaletti’s help with building physical strength but also help bridge flatwork with jumping. Taking an actual “jump” out of the equation and replacing it with a cavaletti helps the horse develop straightness and balance to and from the “jump” without the pressure or punishment if he makes a mistake.
Grids help develop muscle memory and balance. This translates into developing a horse’s bascule and/or retraining them to jump rounder which is sometimes lost. Grids are set up to help a horse achieve success through the exercise. As such, they are a very useful tool to help build confidence in an unconfident horse or one with a hesitant rider.