Cavaletti Building

After the Lainey Ashker clinic I decided that regular grid work needed to be a part of Annie’s life. Not only are they great to incorporate into flat work they are perfect for use in grids to help balance ginger dragons. Annie is already a freak of a jumper and setting up exercises from the Lainey clinic has only continued to improve her style. The exercises we have set up have encouraged her to really rock back and focus on the task at hand and calls out when I let her get too flat or strung out.

We don’t have cavaletti blocks at the farm or a huge surplus of poles/standards so if you set up a grid that is pretty much the only thing you get to work on. Enter light bulb moment where I realize that I refuse to pay stupid money for blocks but will pay the amount for 1 set of blocks on the supplies to build 4 cavalettis. With about $100, some power tools, and a couple hours you could make your own cavaletti too.

Things you will need:

First you will want to cut down the 4×4’s being used to make the ends of your cavaletti. We used two 2′ sections and then used a circular saw to clear out a notch so that the pieces could interlock to create the x that would hold our raised pole. When I say “we” I mean that my BO used the saws… He wisely gave me the tasks that didn’t involve sharp power tools. Once he cut the notches it was my task to clear them out. After they were clean we simply applied some wood glue, put in a couple screws for security, and moved to the next step. Technically we could have made the feet of the x’s a bit more attractive? But it was muggy and I honestly don’t care what they look like as long as they do their job. The last steps are placing whatever you choose to have as your pole on top of the x’s and sanding if necessary. I didn’t buy long enough screws so we ended up using wood glue and shorter screws to stabilize. It will still serve the purpose just fine but if I did it again I would skip the glue and just use longer screws. For the finishing step I sanded down the edges of the top 4×4 to create a softer/smoother edge. Again you could sand the whole thing if you wanted but for me the amount of time required to do that wasn’t worth the benefit… If I am looking at how pretty my cavaletti are when I am approaching then I have bigger problems… Look where you want to go! That shouldn’t be down!

An important step that I missed is where you realize that these are going to be heavier than a mofo and make you want to die every time you have to move them… Yes BO warned me… No I didn’t listen. spongebob-marshmallow-lift-o

Having done it now there are a few things that I would have done differently. First I would have bought a different pole/ post for the top of my cavaletti. I think that a landscape timber or round post would have worked quite well and then I wouldn’t have to worry about the sharp edges of a 4×4 being an issue. I also imagine that something like that would be quite a bit lighter. All in all though I think we will get a lot of use out of these cavaletti and it was time/money well spent. Thanks again to my awesome BO who helps me build all the things! I can’t wait for them to dry out so we can put them in the arena!

Have you guys built any fun jumps or have anything on the docket to create?

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  1. How did you cut out the notch so that you can make the X? Im having a hard time visualizing this. I would love to make a set since Julie said raised cavaletti would help improve Frankie’s trot and teach him more “swing”

    We built a bunch of jumps (gate, planks, flower boxes, roll top, standards). I just have been too lazy to finish painting them 🙂

  2. When you started listing the items needed I am pretty sure I felt my eyes glaze over. I am the least handy/crafty person I know. These are awesome and I am jealous of your skills!

  3. Nice! I plan to build more cavaletti and jump standards in the near future. I’m also going to build a bunch of XC jumps as soon as I have a designated jump field at the new place.

  4. I have to actually get on my horse before building anything would make any sense, but I have been wanting to build some cavalettis to change things up a bit. I was hoping a new saddle would be in the budget in the near future, but sadly I don’t think it will, so instead I think I’ll have my husband help me build a few things to change up what I can do in my western saddle.

  5. Awesome post. I’ve been wanting to make some, but the whole notching out part has been setting me back. I should just do it. You should consider painting them; it’ll help the wood survive longer.

  6. Mike builds cavaletti. He makes them 10′-12′ depending on the order. He makes the 4×4 octagonal to avoid sharp edges. I don’t like landscape timber. Too short, too flimsy, and my OCD goes nuts about the asymmetry. Trying to find round, treated poles for less than a billion dollars is tough. Neat trick is to cut the corners so you can stack them… endless possibilities!

    Here’s a picture of Mike’s: