"Training Horses Using  Ground Poles and Cavaletti's"
(Photos are  from  ''Cavaletti '' by Ingrid and Reiner Klimke available for purchase at Witt's Saddlery in Billings)

Edee Weigel Cavaletti Clinic, March 17 & 18
A Few Reports from Riders
Wendy Cochran, Bozeman, MT

Well, I was sure looking forward to having Edee help me with my great new Jewel….and apparently, Edee was too, as she asked to have a few minutes on the Marvelous Mare herself.  Edee spent 15 minutes just walking on the buckle, feeling for which (if any) of the horses legs were stiff, and bending the ribs, picking up and slipping the reins, and going from leg-yields to half-pass and back (talk about an attention-getter for the horse – and me too!)  She talked about getting into the “feeling” part of the brain, instead of the “thinking” part (oh, crap, that means I’m a double hemi-plegic…!)  and tuning into what the horse’s body was doing and saying, as well as going through a rider’s “body inventory” to make sure all joints were loose and responsive.  Edee and Jewel seemed very focused on one another in a very short time; much quicker than I can accomplish getting Mega-Mare’s attention.  Edee related that if she can lengthen and shorten the horse’s stride in all gaits, the horse is attentive and ready and rideable.
On to the cavaletti and grids – Edee not having sat in a jumping saddle in some time, she nonetheless looked effortlessly at home.  Jewel’s little ears homed in on the lines of poles and foot-high cavaletti- she does love to get herself up in the air!  After a few trips though a long line of poles and cavaletti with a tiny oxer at the end, Edee was telling her ground crew (Gordon Lemons and me) to raise that last element – twice….and looking like she was having a marvelous time.
When I finally got to hop on, Jewel was softer and more responsive that I’ve ever felt her.  I did manage to get from leg-yield to half-pass (not strictly by-the-book, I’m sure) and played a bit with the feeling of having a connections to each of Jewel’s legs individually.  We repeated an exercise of trot-poles, turns and leg-yields that was exercise for me too – lots of concentration and coordination.  Jewel had to be off her forehand to accomplish the tight turns, meaning I had to be in a tall, shoulders-back position to help her.  It’s so true – jumping (well) is dressage between obstacles.
So on to the cavaletti lines – of course I immediately got scared and tight and forgot everything Edee had said…..of course it all went smoothly once I quit worrying and started riding.  When I found that “perfect” position, just like in dressage, it all flowed well and we trotted through some complicated lines in good balance and effortless control.  Poor Jewel….stuck with a perennial amateur who will be trotting crossrails for months…and lucky me, to have a good friend and teacher in Edee Weigel, who inspires me and gives me more confidence that I’ve had in many years!
Edee will be in Bozeman several more times this season – whether you’re a DQ or a jumpin’ fool or just want to have a more harmonious relationship with your good horse, Edee can help.

Jolene Crum, Emigrant, MT

Before I delve into the great lesson I had with Edee, I should preface my thoughts with a few things.  I know virtually nothing about the English riding world, though I habitually wish my profession was jumping fancy horses over big fences!  I have been riding Western for many years, but long for the though, discipline, reason and results English riding seems to offer.  My husband, young daughter and I live on the guest ranch my husband works for.  His days are full of horse activities.  Mine mostly consist of raising our daughter and other domestic agendas.  That said, I have to say that riding with Edee was a delight and pleasure, for several reasons.  Though I know she is top-notch and has been around classy people and horses, she did not let on that she knew I was neither. My husband’s regular-looking sorrel gelding (“Goose”) with my $100 used saddle and me in western chaps were welcomed and treated as though we belonged there.  (I don’t own any English riding gear, or anything else that would help me fool someone into thinking I knew what I was doing.)  Initially, my “been there-done that” horse was slightly worried by all the poles and cavaletti in the arena, but after some trips around he didn’t much mind.  Edee talked about breathing in rhythm with the horse’s gaits; this is an interesting idea in itself.  We worked on maintaining a constant stride even during turns, so his momentum wouldn’t die.  By the end of the session Goose was trotting willingly over a series of ground rails.  The great thing about this lesson is that it left me wanting to know more, do more and ride more.  This is no small thing – after 5 summers of taking guests on trail rides in the mountains I started to lose my interest and desire for all things equine.  However, in the accepting environment that Edee creates, and the new and interesting exercises she gave me to work with, I suddenly remembered that I LIKE to ride, most especially with someone who is more skilled, knowledgeable and willing to share those strengths.  Thanks so much, Edee!