I wish I could tell you a humorous story about my third lesson over cavaletti, but I literally can't remember anything about that day, except the actual work. It was probably insanely cold, or had recently snowed, or was going to snow, or was 65 degrees because that is the only kind of weather we've had this winter.
Here are the diagrams of the patterns that we worked on. I'm going to show you the arena set-up first, followed by the different exercises because otherwise I think it's a little confusing to see how things work. I will say that seeing this set-up in person was pretty impressive. (Also, note that my memory of the day is seriously in question, so it's entirely possible that I missed a pole or got something a little out of place, but I have to work with the brain cells I have.) Seeing half the arena basically covered in poles was a little daunting at first, but after going through the exercises, the set-up made a lot of sense.
This next diagram shows you the first exercise we worked on. The exercise can be done from either direction and it involves turning the corner to approach the poles as a square, not a circle. The poles were set at a distance that encouraged a nice working trot. Because of the square approach, the exercise targeted balance and rhythm because the horse had to really focus on shortening the trot a little to make the corner of the square while being ready to move into the working trot quickly.
So, what we did for this pattern looks pretty simple on paper, but definitely felt a little overwhelming at first because of the tight turn and all those poles! We trotted down the long side of the arena and then turned in a fairly tight circle (probably less than 10 m in diameter) to come into the cross-like structure of poles on a diagonal, push for a little bit of lengthening, trot over the center of the cross and then continue the lengthened trot over the group of three ground poles before trotting on our merry way. Allison added a bit of a twist after we'd done the exercise a couple of times by raising the outside of the 4 inner ground poles about 12-15" so a giant raised pinwheel was created. Visually, I think it was very intimidating to come into, but it also had the effect of directing Nimo to the very center of the poles.
Overall, the effect of all these exercises was to create a more balanced and forward horse. By the end of the lesson, Nimo was trotting in this huge, self-motivated trot that I literally did not have to do anything to maintain. At which point, Allison reminded me that my legs were really out of position and needed to come forward with heels down. It was awesome to be able to actually only worry about my legs instead of a hundred other things as well. I'm pretty limited in my capacity to do more than one thing at a time, so whenever I have to work on steering or getting more balance or engagement from my horse, my legs and arms wander off into strange positions.
Anyway, my fourth installment on these lessons should come fairly quickly. I've locked myself in the office in an attempt to get caught up on my blog and so far, it's working:)