Monday, January 24, 2011
Some refer to it as "The Circle of Death." In fact, I think that perhaps that is what Freddie Mac himself thought of the Cartwheel exercise the first couple of times that he was subjected to my indoor training exercise of the week. Those long legs of his were meant to swallow up the ground on a cross country course! After watching the video, however, I think that you will agree with me when I say that he is a bigger and better horse because of it, and yours can be, too!
This time of year you have to be as creative as possible with 5 or 6 days a week of riding inside, and I try to add a little variety by changing my jumping exercises and locations every couple of days. This week I had anybody and everybody jumping around my Cartwheel, a 25ish meter circle, with 4 verticals set around the circle. If you were a bird flying above my arena (and somehow dodging our BigAss Fans) you would think you were looking down upon the face of a clock, with verticals placed at 12, 3, 6 and 9. You don't have to make the jumps high to get a proper work out! In the video they were 3'. By continuously cantering around the circle, you and the horse both can get into a positive cycle of rhythm and balance. By counting strides and adjusting the arc of your circle you can work on your eye, and perfect over and over again certain aspects of your position. It is a great exercise for teaching horses how to land on a correct lead for their direction of travel. You can ask Splash, she was on a left handed Circle of Death for longer than she cares to talk about lol.
I place my Cartwheel so that I can continue on and off of the verticals on the longside as though I were jumping into an outside line. For example, that was how I started the Cartwheel in Freddie's video posted above. I jumped a simple cross rail and then continued on and jumped the vertical that began my right handed cartwheel. Jumping the exercise in this manner prevents horses from rushing down the outside lines.
Many thanks to Lara for somehow filming Freddie's training session on the Cartwheel without getting dizzy or ill. I hope that you all found this to be educational, and go on and try this at home!