The main uses of cavalletti are to improve the horse's muscle development and fitness, to improve the rider's balance, to rehabilitate a horse who has suffered a serious injury, to prepare a horse to learn to jump, to prepare a rider to learn to jump, to teach a dressage horse to use his back muscles more correctly and stretch through his topline, to teach obedience to the aids, to improve technical jumping skills of the horse or rider without the strain of jumping on a horse's legs, to develop lengthened and collected strides in both dressage and jumping horses, to give horse a training break from their normal work, and to have fun.
Single cavalletti, walk and trot. Have the students go over a single cavalletti several times at the walk, then several times at the trot. This is the time when the instructor should be especially picky that they use the correct position and release the reins. It is much easier to break a bad habit before it starts. Once the students can all go through the cavalletti correctly at both the walk and trot, move to the next exercise.
Set up two walk cavalletti and have the students go through them several times, then set up three walk cavalletti, then four. Once the students can comfortably go through a grid of four walk cavalletti, go on to the next exercise.
Set up two trot cavalletti. After a couple rounds of this, add a third cavalletti. After a couple of rounds through this, go to the next exercise.
Set four trot cavalletti. At this point, ask the students questions about what they feel is happening such as: 1. As you go through the grid this time, pay attention to how your horse feels. What feels different when you are in the grid than when you weren’t? Was the trot bouncier? Did you feel a stretch through the back and neck? 2. Watch the others in the class as they go through the grid. Pay attention to how the horse is moving before the grid, through the grid, and after the grid. What changes did you see? Compare the movement before the grid to the movement after the grid? Was the horse bending his hocks more? Moving with more energy? Stretching more through his topline? 3. Did you notice an improvement between the first time you did the grid and the last? What improved?
Final exercise - Continue with the grid of four cavalletti. Ask the students to try to maintain the quality of trot they got in the grid for a few steps after the grid. Students probably won’t be able to keep the same level of effort as the grid, but they can usually get a slightly better trot than the horse normally gets.