My wife, Eliza, rides horses and someone out to the barn was asking about the best joint to build some traditional cavalletti. I had to do some searching on the web to find out what cavalletti were to answer this question. After several misspellings Google produced some good results.

Cavalletti (it's Italian for "little horses") are a familiar piece of equipment for anyone who rides English. A cavalletto (the singular form) functions as a hybrid between a trotting pole and an actual jump. It usually takes the form of a 10 or 12-foot pole, bolted on either end to a wooden X. Depending on whether you turn the cavalletto so that the pole is suspended underneath the X, to the side of the X, or on top, you get three different heights with which to challenge your horse.

I used Visio to draw up something that I felt would accomplish what was being asked for. This design seemed a bit more robust than the standard X type cavalletti. There are six height settings and these will store much easier than standard cavalletti.

I made these out of pressure treated lumber knowing that they could be used outside and also because I happened to have this material on hand. I estimate it would cost about $20-25 per set to make these. I went through $4 with of Gorilla glue alone for two sets. A sheet of 3/4" PT plywood runs about $35 at HD today and a 8' PT 4x4 runs about $8. Add to that the cost of incidentals and wear and tear on your tools and $20 per set seems quite a bargain.

If you are interested in making your own cavelletti you can download my Visio plan here. Keep in mind that it's not the prettiest Visio drawing - just print it out on 11x17 paper and spray glue it to a template. Cut out the template on the bandsaw, clean it up and go to town.
The basics for construction were 4x4 posts sandwiched between two 3/4" pieces of plywood. That provided sufficient width to be stable and a good deal of additional strength. The 4x4s were planed on two sides and glued up with Gorilla glue - they were then run through the planer on their side to give a nice flat surface for the plywood to adhere to.

A template was created by gluing a to scale (11x17) print out of the drawing to a piece of 1/2" MDF. A little time on the band saw and drill press drum sander (both over at my brothers) and the template was ready to shape the 4x4 glue-up. Using the template to trace the shape on the 4x4 glue-ups, they were first cut on the band saw to within 1/4" of the line.
I secured the template to the 4x4 glue-up with some double sided tape and used a pattern bit to hog out half of the glue-up. Switching to a flush trim bit, I flipped the glue-up over and hogged out the other half.

The rough cut 3/4" plywood was then glued and clamped to the sides. Another excuse to use my orgy clamps!
The old router table gets used for nearly the last time. Now using a flush trim bit the 4x4 center was used as the template and the plywood sides were trimmed to match. A lot of chips were generated in this operation - I wonder how the dust collection in the new router table would perform here..
After using a 1/2" round over bit on all surfaces the cavalletti are complete. The sawdust was a result of hogging out the 4x4 posts.

Still wondering how they are used? The next picture should give you some indication.
Little Buck attempts to step over the lowest rung of the cavalleti, but it's more like an eventing jump to him. The whole idea here is to get the horses to pick their feet up and step over these. There is a horse out to the barn that used to do jumps until he figured out he was big enough that he could just run through them. These cavalleti will help him reinforce the need to pick his feet up and hopefully start jumping again. I do imagine that kicking your way through these would hurt the shins a bit.

I'll try to get some pictures of these in use sometime later. (When it gets warm)
Ok, I'm horribly late in getting up action photos, but here we see my wife Eliza walking her horse Ramona over the cavalletti. Romona actually did better over these at the trot, but still managed to knock down a few poles with her hooves. I think that raising the poles would make Ramona more inclined to pick up her feet as she'd be hitting her shins instead of her hooves. Oh well, it's a work in progress.

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Copyright 2004 Aaron Montgomery