This exercise is designed to mobilise the shoulders of the horse with 90 degree turns, practice a reinback in a straight line, and work on an egg-shaped turn that will start building into a more laterally balanced turn for outside the stockpen. It is called the Cathedral due to the shape. We have used some markers and a corridor for the reinback. This is not necessary to setup, but it maybe helpful to use markers for green or inexperienced horses to keep the lines straight and circles even. It is recommended to use the poles to mark the arena sides if you don’t have a solid barrier in your riding area.
It is best to start on the long side with the ninety degree turn to practice moving the shoulders of the horse in a moving turn on the haunches, making a tight turn with the arena sides (or poles) as a visual barrier. The purpose of this exercise is to keep the horse upright and in balance as you do the turn. The speed may slow down at first through the turn, but as you practice more, the aim is to do it in the same rhythm as the walk. Then you have a straight line up the center, halting at the end of the parallel poles (placed approximately 1.5m apart). Gather the horse and ask for a reinback 3 – 5 steps in a straight line. As you progress in reinback the horse should be collecting themselves which will feel like a forward movement backwards, and using diagonal steps (a front and opposite hind going back at the same time).
The final piece is to make an egg-shaped circle in 5 – 10m diameter (larger to start with and aiming for a smaller diameter as a more balanced execution can be achieved). Around the tip of the circle move the shoulders inwards just slightly to direct the horse on a slightly smaller bend. Then continue straight down the long side of the arena (on the quarter line for a 5m diameter and on the track for a 10m circle).
Repeat the exercise in the other direction.
This exercise is available in a pdf download here.
These exercises work on movements in bending on a straight line and counter-bend which is a preparation for lateral work. Lateral movements are introduced at the Preliminary (Canter between obstacles level) with the side pass over pole obstacle, as well building into a laterally balanced turn outside the Stock Pen.
We have devised 3 parts to this challenge so you can start at any part, and go as far as you feel ready to do with your horse.
Part 2 and 3 exercises are available in a pdf download here.
Walk down the edge of the wall (or poles used to create an edge) bending to the left in Shoulder fore (right fore between hind leg tracks) or Shoulder In (3 tracks with right fore on same track as left hind).
RIGHT BEND ON A STRAIGHT LINE
Walk up the edge of the wall bending to the right in Shoulder fore (left fore between hind leg tracks) or Shoulder In (3 tracks with left fore on same track as right hind).
The aim of this exercise is to develop consistent footfalls within tracks of the Shoulder Fore or Shoulder In movement. Starting with a few steps and building up the number of quality steps over time.
Slalom markers are 7 – 10 m apart depending on the space you have or the level of challenge you need (minimum distance for more difficulty).
LEFT BEND ONLY SLALOM AT WALK
Enter the Slalom bending left around the first marker. Continue in left bend making a Shoulder Out movement across the diagonal to the next marker. Counterbend around the second marker. Continue across the diagonal with a Shoulder In movement to the next marker. Bend around the next marker with inside bend. Continue in this pattern through the rest of the slalom markers.
RIGHT BEND ONLY SLALOM AT WALK
Enter the Slalom bending right around the first marker. Continue in right bend with a Shoulder Out movement across the diagonal, then counterbend around the next marker. Continue across the diagonal with a Shoulder In movement across the diagonal to the next marker. Bend around the next marker with inside bend. Continue in this pattern through the rest of the slalom markers.
A pdf download of this exercise is available here.