Using a cavesson lets you achieve the poll position required for healthy work. Through bending at the poll and correct positioning of the head you can start working on the horse’s lateral bend.
In my experience, this is much less effective with other bitless bridles (like a halter). The cavesson has the advantage that you can work with the horse at a high gymnastic level without affecting the mouth.
Before we start looking at the details of a specific horse’s way of moving, we need to take a look at the basic gaits – walk, trot, and canter. In order to be able to evaluate the basic gaits, one must know what they normally look like – in general, but also in the individual horse. Every gait in every horse looks a bit different due to the respective breed, conformation, age, training level, and many other reasons.
The first thing to do is to look at how the horse moves naturally without trying to manipulate the gait. This way you get to know its unique way of moving and you get a feel for the special challenges of this individual horse. This short introduction into the evaluation of the basic gaits will help you.
Every horse has a natural crookedness and is therefore never fully balanced. This crookedness causes the horse to lean into the circle on one hand and move in a tilted position. Through targeted training we help our horses develop balanced shoulders.
A good way of moving is an essential precondition for the horse to develop the necessary strength for carrying a rider. That is true for a young horse as well as a mature animal.
In order to be successful, we need to understand the difficulties our horse faces when we start training it. In the wild a horse essentially moves only in straight lines. He may turn abruptly or change direction, but he never moves continuously on a curve or even a circle.
The most important requirement for a good and correct movement pattern is suppleness. Horses that are tense, nervous or afraid will always move in a rather bad manner.
We define suppleness in the horse when he is physically and mentally relaxed and enjoys the work.
A supple horse lets his neck stretch forward down calmly from the withers as we can see here with Losti. The under-neck muscles, marked in orange, need to be relaxed:
Why Forward Down Posture is Healthy? | Horse Training
We differentiate between three positions: forward down, working frame and collection. Suppleness is most important at first, so we usually shift between forward down and a working frame during lunging. Advanced horses can be worked in collection on the lunge but should often get the opportunity to stretch and relax.
What do I do if the correct head and body position falls apart once I increase the distance to the horse? I have been working on leading in position as per your lunging course for some time now and it seems to be going well. However, every time I increase the distance to my horse and lose the contact to the cavesson, she loses the correct leading in position. Should I disregard it and continue leading with the cavesson?
Some horses need to get used to the tightly fitting cavesson. It is really important to take the time to familiarize the horse with the cavesson. Please don’t rush into this project by putting on the new cavesson tightly and immediately getting to work.
The Lunging Course for a Frantic Horse.
When ridden in the indoor or outside Pia got hot – that is, fast. Her only way out of not understanding was flight. Even after the lesson was finished and she was supposed to relax in walk, she got faster and faster. Then she started trotting, ever faster, until she ended up galloping. Without a tight rein, she could not be kept at the walk. The decision was made to sell her.
I would generally advise that you discuss any form of training of a horse with health problems with the vet in charge of treatment and with every illness that affects the horse’s ability to move with a physiotherapist as well.
It was so touching to feel Paul’s eagerness and joy when we got the first steps of travers on the lunge.
Paul is an 18-year-old Haflinger gelding who came to me in 2016. He was still very green then, and easily stressed. He was generally anxious and did not trust people.
We got along well on the ground and in the saddle. Especially by training lateral movements he found better body awareness and confidence, and so he felt safer. His pronounced crookedness got better, and he began to trust people in general, but especially also the rider.
Let’s start at the beginning: Moonlight was born in Denmark. When she was five years old she was sent to Germany to be sold by a professional horse dealer. She did not like to be handled and was very shy. They tried to break her in, more or less.