My dog can already trot through cavalettis, so what do I do now?
The cavalettis can be a daunting piece of equipment to buy or make, especially when traditionally it is only used as a trotting exercise. However, cavalettis are actually one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can use for canine conditioning.
Cavalettis for Conditioning & Teaching Stride Length
A lot of conditioning goals can be met using cavaletti equipment. Cavalettis are used very commonly to increase stride length, and this goal is especially important in the conformation ring — because lengthening the stride while trotting makes the dog appear to move more efficiently.
But cavalettis can also be used to teach a collected stride (important in agility and obedience), and I regularly use cavalettis to teach body awareness. Because dogs have to think more about where they place each leg to not step on the rails, whether moving forward, backward, sideways, or turning, it increases body awareness.
Awareness of where the body is in space is vital for all dog sports and injury prevention.
Cavalettis for Cardio & The Core
Cardio is another area where cavalettis can be used. It's about getting the heart and respiratory rate elevated and building stamina! And that can be incorporated into all cavaletti exercises.
Cavalettis build core strength. Core muscles support the body and joints; by strengthening the core other 'power' muscles can function more efficiently. Through working on precise movements and perfecting them, the core muscles can be isolated and strengthened.
Changing the height of the rails affects limb range of motion. Range of motion is very important when recovering from surgery or injury, and needs to be considered before these injuries occur. Range of motion is often neglected in day to day activity, and cavalettis can remedy this.
Spinal flexibility balances out core strength, and adding turning to an exercise in your cavalettis can achieve this.
Don't Underestimate Your Cavalettis!
I never want to put too much emphasis on one aspect of canine conditioning, and all this versatility leads to maximum time-saving! If it takes 5 minutes to set up equipment, I want to be able to do a lot of exercises without having to spend more time changing the set up. With cavalettis, there are minor changes I make for each exercise, but no more difficult than a quick set up change you might do with inflatable conditioning equipment.