ON THE HORSE Magazine Presents



At the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park

Brought to you by Danny Forbes of DMF Productions

Photo’s by Ian Woodley

Ingrid walking with a cavaletti.

Ingrid Klimke setting up a demonstration with a cavaletti.

Ingrid Klimke is a German Three-Day Event Rider who has won two Olympic Gold medals in Team Eventing among many other championship wins in Dressage and Eventing. Ingrid’s father Reiner Klimke was a German Dressage rider who won an impressive six gold and two bronze medals at the Summer Olympics in Dressage. He taught Ingrid early on how to train horses in the correct, classical way. Ingrid also spent time working with Ian Millar as a working student where she learned about Show Jumping and the care of top level horses.

Ingrid was an amazing clinician to audit – she was very positive, upbeat, witty, and even humorous. She was very calm and patient, and was always looking to get the best out of each horse and rider combination. She seemed confident in working with all types of horses, and had a strategy for each individual horse whether they were lazy or “Ambitious”, green or “Professors” as she affectionately called them. She genuinely seemed to enjoy working with these horses as she would quite often be heard saying “Yipee!” when a horse showed a little bit of exuberance, or worked through an exercise brilliantly. What I liked the most is that she was able to push all riders to be able to ask their horse for more in order to improve their gaits and movement. The difference I could see in the horses even by the end of the first session was very impressive, and I’m sure that the riders who participated in the clinic would agree they learned a lot from her!

Ingrid’s interest and knowledge of anatomy and physiology of the horse was apparent when she spoke about gymnasticizing horses of all ages and disciplines through the use of her cavaletti system. She used a variety of different cavaletti exercises for each horse that helped to develop rhythm and impulsion in every single horse, at all gaits!

DMF Productions did a wonderful job organizing this clinic, and bringing in a top International rider and trainer to share their knowledge with our aspiring riders!

Ingrid Klimke Training @ Home

Horses are kept on a good training schedule with one day off for all horses. Here is an example of how she works her horses throughout the week:

Sunday: Day off

Monday: Dressage/Cavaletti Work

Tuesday: Jumping/Cavaletti work. (Even for Dressage horses)

Wednesday: Lunged over cavaletti with side reins (stretching over the back) Helps to improve hind legs and keeps horse supple and loose.

Thursday: Introduce something new, or school something that needs work.

Friday: Easy day. (Hack, cavaletti, etc)

Saturday: Dressage work/something new.

Ingrid asking for a rider's perspective of the clinic

Ingrid asking for a rider’s perspective of the clinic

Ingrid incorporates hill work, interval work, and hacking into each horse’s program to increase strength,stamina, as well as foot sureness over varying terrain. She uses a variety of training based on each horse’s needs. She says her Dressage horses are the hardest workers as each year they must learn more, sit more, etc. Ingrid incorporates cavaletti work into each horse’s schedule, regardless of discipline, in order to gymnasticize the horse, increase strength, and improve the quality of movement.


Warm-Up Phase

  • Ingrid emphasized taking the time to really make the horses forward and round. All sessions started by working the walk on the buckle to allow the horses to develop rhythm and pace in their walk and to teach riders to follow the horse’s mouth. In the trot, Ingrid instructed the riders to keep the trot active and coming from behind, round and stretching allowing the horse to move into the bit and further loosen their backs. Before the working phase began, riders cantered in a light seat, with the same idea of forwards and stretching so the horse knows they can move freely.

Working Phase

  • Once you are in the working phase, stay sitting in the saddle as the seat is a very important aid for influence; especially for long backed horses. If you sit in the saddle you can better feel and influence the horse. If the horse is weak, perhaps sit for shorter periods followed by stretching, then work sitting again.
  • To get the horse loose, work transitions, get them on the bit, through, off the aids, and consistent. Transitions must be round with the nose must be in front of the vertical with the poll at the highest point. Trot/canter transitions are perfect for thoroughness and suppleness.
  • Use shortening and lengthening exercises to keep horses focused and waiting for the next instruction. She warned riders not to sit too far behind the vertical between lengthening and collection.
  • Sit deep and half halt before you ask for a transition to help prevent the horse from falling to the forehand. It is bad for the joints and gives them nothing. They must learn to sit behind and increase their strength. Be very definite and do not let them cheat the last step.
  • The working phase is focused and sharp, you must give your best during the working phase.


  • Ingrid was very careful to introduce the cavaletti work slowly to horses that had no previous experience (especially the Dressage horses). Once they figured it out and became more confident, she increased the number of cavaletti and/or the difficulty of the exercise. Using the cavaletti will improve the quality of gaits and make the hind legs “more alive”.
  • Using cavaletti on a circle helps to engage the inside hind leg to step under the horse’s body, while suppling the horse through it’s back and ribcage.
Selena O'Hanlon over trot cavaletti on a circle

Selena O’Hanlon over trot cavaletti on a circle

Selena O’Hanlon over canter cavaleti on a circle








Above exercise: 4 Cavaletti equally spaced apart on a circle

From the middle point, go the same distance in each direction to set up the cavaletti. She introduced this exercise to riders and horses by first only working a half circle over two. Then she had them work over all four cavaletti with the same number of strides between each. She told riders to make sure to stay on the same line using the coloured markers on the cavaletti, and to not use so much hand to bend, and instead guide the horse with their leg. Ingrid varied this exercise by asking riders to ride the outside line (increase the amount of strides between each) and then to ride the inside line (decrease the amount of strides between each). She further increased the difficulty by having riders alternate between the inside and outside line.


  • Give with your elbows at the walk so as not to restrict the horse. For those who are learning, walk with the reins at the buckle so it does not restrict the horse. If you ride the walk with no give, the horse will learn to walk short.
  • Quality of the walk is important and it is hardly any effort to get it back. Use cavaletti to improve the walk, and slowly increase the width between poles to get the horse reaching forward and downward in the neck, and to find the beat at the walk.
  • If the horse forgets the walk in the working phase, he will forget it in the test. Even if you have a horse that is tight, you want a forward and active walk.
One of the riders working their horse on an active stretching trot.

One of the riders working their horse on an active stretching trot.


  • Make sure the horse is trotting and not jogging. You want hind legs stepping forward over the center of gravity; the whole hind end is taking the weight. If he jogs, his hind quarters are not even going towards his front shoes. You want big steps, not just struggle steps because then he can hold himself, stay coming from behind, over the back, and into your hand.
  • As soon as you feel the horse is running, you half halt. But as long as you can, push and engage, because you want the active trot.


  • For fresh and “ambitious” horses, stay in the canter for a bit and it will go away.
  • “Refresh the canter aid” means to collect him instead of letting him get flat and hollow. Use more leg, and more seat with the half halt.
  • If the horse is round in the canter it will be easier for them to respond to the half halt.

Flying Changes

  • Sit up in the change, ride it when jumping the same as dressage.
  • Ingrid says there is a myth that teaching horses flying changes over cavaletti is bad because they will be late. She says she must persuade people it is good for them because it helps them to learn and gives them a reason to make the change.
  • Ingrid begins teaching horses flying changes by first making simple changes in the walk (canter/walk transition must be there). She half halts, and then asks for the new canter. (Must have energy and collection).
  • The horse needs to half halt for quality changes, and must have a quality canter.
One of the riders schooling their horse laterally

One of the riders schooling their horse laterally

Lateral Work

  • When you have the right angle you can ask for more impulsion and elevation. The quality will come if the horse is relaxed and obedient.
  • Always let the horse stretch out between periods of collected work, as well as after.
  • Use the half pass as preparation to set the horse up for a pirouette. The inside hind leg must be stepping under to have a correct canter pirouette. Ingrid used canter cavaletti on a circle prior to schooling the pirouette in order to get the inside hind stepping and engaged.
Ingrid assisting one of the riders at the clinic.

Ingrid assisting one of the riders at the clinic.


  • Land your lead. It is important to be able to land your lead. Not all horses, especially young ones, may be able to do flying changes, so it is important to be able to land the lead so the horse can stay in balance. Put your weight in the stirrup for the lead you want to land.
  • Practice jumping on a straight line while adding and taking away strides. For this exercise, Ingrid set a line and asked the riders to come through the first time on their horse’s natural canter. She then asked riders to either add, or take away a stride depending on the horse’s needs. This was a great exercise to work on straightness, rhythm, impulsion, and relaxation for some of the horses.
  • Stay in the saddle and stay focused. Ingrid told riders to make sure they stay in the saddle and stay focused until they are finished so that the horse does not learn to lose focus once they have finished jumping a jump.

Trouble Shooting

  • Spooking: When a horse spooks at something, be more definite and show him the way. Use shoulder in to help prevent the horse from spooking and shying. Use your inside leg to flex him away from whatever he is spooking at so he cannot look at it. Keep him focused on you.
  • Horses who are “funny” in the mouth: If a horse is funny in the mouth (not accepting of contact), use more seat and leg. If the horse gets funny: sit, take and give, you don’t change anything, you be with him. He will find out nothing has changed, nothing has happened, and he will stop.
  • Miscommunication: If he doesn’t understand, you must be more definite and show him the way.
  • Dressage Bridge for turning and shoulder control: Place both reins in both hands. Both hands will work together when it is difficult to turn, so riders cannot just pull on the inside rein. This is the best way to make sure you always have the triangle between your hands and the horse’s mouth, and helps to provide better shoulder control.
  • Bolting: Ingrid said that she does not like running the horse into a wall as it goes to the joints and is very hard on them. If a horse bolts, stop him immediately. Be one step ahead, and say no as fast and as straight as you can. When it is your idea, drive them forward, and when they take over you must stop them.
  • Inga Hamilton riding her mount of day 1 of the clinic.

    Inga Hamilton riding her mount of day 1 of the clinic.

    Bucking: Keep the poll elevated, the horse cannot be up in the hind end as well as the front.

  • Horse travels with his hind end out: Use traverse when a horse wants to put their hind quarters to the outside.
  • Horse is heavy on the bit: Don’t allow him to be heavy, give the contact away so he cannot lean on it. Use more leg, always more leg, and school transitions.
  • Making mistakes: When a mistake happens, we think it is over, it doesn’t matter – it is history. We must keep the focus to make sure we finish on a good note.

Quotes From Ingrid

  • “You have a big smile, that’s the most important thing.”
  • “Repetition is training and learning.”
  • “If he gets excited, you breathe more so he relaxes.”
  • “It is most difficult to finish an exercise when it is best, because you want to practice more. But you must finish when it is good.”
  • “If you can turn, lengthen, shorten, you have everything you need for jumping.”
  • “Feel the mouth, stay there with your leg and position. You must determine for each horse the correct balance of aids.”
  • “Find a way the horse is happy with as little resistance as possible.”
  • “Always when you finish, stretch (at the trot long and low, just as you warmed up), walk, and pat the horse.”
  • “It is good that mistakes happen because then he can learn to focus.”
  • “Take your time, there is no rush.”
  • “Keep going, you will make it!”
  • “Keep your fingers closed and feel the mouth, keep the contact consistent to give security, especially to nervous horses.”
  • “If you open and close your hands, he feels nothing – it is not an aid to flex to the inside. Take and give with the wrist and elbows with a closed hand.”
  • “If you have a young horse and you put him behind an older horse everything looks nice and easy. When I have a younger horse, I put a professor in front and he will like it.”
  • “All of a sudden she is dancing [over cavaletti] and we see nice dancing hind legs. That is good so we see she has more potential to use it.”
  • “Always ask for the most quality you can have. We’ve discovered the world, now we can go out of it and grow bigger. Have the courage to go for it.”
  • “Every second stride, you take and give. You repeat this forever. You make many offers, and hopefully they take one. And if they accept, pat them and let them know this is what you want.”
  • “The outside rein must always have a consistent guideline where the horse can always rely on it (Quiet and guiding). The inside rein is the giving rein. You don’t need inside hand to keep the horse on the bit or flexed to the inside. Why? The inside leg is so strong and the diagonal aids (inside leg to outside hand) are there.”
  • “If he is strong, take and give. Don’t hold him. Be definite, and give.”
  • “Relax, breathe, enjoy it.”
  • “This is practice – this is why we can repeat it as much as we need to. If you want to figure something out, you have to work hard for it, repeat it, you have to train it. Try to have the right amount of aids, try to have the right timing and finally you will get it. But its feel, determination, and you say you will make it happen. You will keep going because you want to get it.”
  • “Rome was not built in a day – you know what you need to practice now.”
  • “Learn to let him go, if you always hold him back he will not show us what he has. Don’t hold him back. You want the quality, so really give him a chance to do it. Don’t hold him with the inside rein.”
  • “If you don’t tell him that you always mean it, then he doesn’t know that he always has to respond.”
  • “If you always ask the same question and get the same answer, you must change the question. If there is always the same problem – you must get out of the loop.”

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