The 4’6” Cavaletti
The De Nemethy Method was used in the late 60’s and 70’s as the training style for American Show Jumping and is based on a simple exercise—the 4’6” trotting caveletti, where caveletti or poles are set four-and-a-half feet apart. This is the basic building block which all balanced toplines are constructed.
The exercise will be featured in the Thoroughbred Makeover courses for jumpers, so I’ll be rereading my copy of the The De Nemethy Method: Modern Techniques for Training the Show Jumper and Its Rider by Bertalan de Nemethy—a book which provides diagrams, of a number of gymnastic excercises, principles of skilled horsemanship, and advanced training—and will be practicing this form of training leading up to the competition. A simple explanation of what the 4’6” cavaeletti does is the spacing of rails creates rhythm and the lifting motion of the legs makes strong muscles in the topline and back that are condusive to taking a balanced jump. To make the exercise work, the horse needs to be in a manner of self carriage so the relaxation of the back allows the head and neck to stretch and lower, thus creating a round jump.
Horses coming off the track are trained to be strong in the hand—jockeys want “a lot of horse” underneath them. Unfortunately, that translates into pounds of pressure in the reins. When jumping, horses need to stretch the head and neck down and forward to make a round jump and releasing the reins of racehorses generally makes them fall on their face which is why transtioning a horse to jump can take time. The muscules in the top line need to get longer and more relaxed.
To be honest, I am beginning to get a little nervous because it takes time to transition a horse to this kind of balance and attitude. At this point I will need to find a horse heavy on the relaxed attitude to make this work out. In the meantime, measuring tapes have been used, rail stabilizers have been built, suitable rails have been located—at this point all I need is a horse to step over them. I will continue the search for a horse to take to the Makeover and when found, I will be so ready. Most importantly, I will not be sharing my copy of the book with others.