Purpose: There’s a lot of talk about spacing and height with regards to cavaletti as an exercise… And while the starting spacing is approximately the height of the withers +/- 2″ or so, with the height low… Playing with the spacing and the height of the poles changes the intent of the exercise, the mechanics implemented, and muscle chains engaged. This video aims to detail the Cavaletti Extension/Collection differences.
Collection: In this video I start with an advanced level version of collection cavaletti… Where the spacing is the height of the withers and the elevation of the pole is at maximum (hock height). This asks the dog to create a significant amplitude change to drive the body and limbs up and over the cavaletti poles. The video shows the change in the mechanics caused by having the poles this high, which is not appropriate in all situations, and may be contraindicated for some dogs.
Extension: The second portion of the video shows an advanced level version of extension cavaletti… Where the poles are very low, but stretched out to almost 1.5 times the height of the withers. This asks the dog to generate an incredible amount of forward propulsion with very little amplitude change. You’ll also notice these mechanics are more “natural”.
Equipment: Set of 10 Cavaletti poles
Targets: Collection cavaletti intentionally “forces” maximum hip and stifle flexion on the free leg, and an eccentric / isometric engagement of the gluteals on the stance leg to create the elastic resistance resulting in upward amplitude change.
Extension cavaletti intentionally “forces” maximum shoulder and hip extension / flexion, to drive the dog forward. This challenges shoulder and hip mobility, increases reach and drive, and helps the hamstring to contract concentrically creating a powerful forward movement.
Because these two cavaletti variations ask the dog to work to the end range in either forward propulsion, or amplitude change, this is considered a plyometric exercise.
- Both of these variations that took time to build up to. Be mindful to increase the height of the cavaletti slowly for the collection cavaletti, and stretch the space slowly for the extension cavaletti. ANY adding of strides/incorrect footfalls, change in arousal level, or avoidance/jumping poles likely means the spacing is incorrect, and the Intermediate Level Variation may need to be revisited to help the dog regain understanding and confidence.
- Collection cavaletti NEVER raises the poles higher than hock height. Raising the poles higher will cause torque at the lumbosacral junction… An area that is already highly unstable in the canine anatomy. Undue torque in that area can result in the growth of osteophytes, or instability type injuries like spondylolisthesis.
I’ve included zoomed in and slow motion segments for those of us without superpower vision. There’s also a compare and contrast photo included at the end of the video.