The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:12 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:46 pm
Posts: 250
Location: Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada
You are very welcome Barbara... it's the attempts to put these concepts into words that help me become so much clearer... :)

Karen, thank you for your encouragement! I felt I wasn't very clear about the passage until last few days...

This is in hand work, by the way.

My horse also has what I would call a marching piaffe (or does he? )
so maybe I could focus on transitioning from the Spanish walk... it just seems like he gets more stompy as he attempts to speed up the SW. Or with a voice cue (clicking) goes into piaffe, then passage-like steps (maybe :smile: )

And the SW steps are BIG - do I try to shorten them while keeping some expression in them? That may be an exercise worthy of doing by itself....

How do you cue the transition? Is it asking for shorter SW steps but faster - to become diagonalized? or a transition to collected trot with some SW cues maintained?

I am a bit worried about using excessive transitions to create a new movement. Let me explain:
With piaffe training, I want the movement to stay rooted in the trot. So at the very beginnings, the transitions trot/back/trot are a way to get there. But not too much - I still want to be able to do trot/back transitions without piaffe steps... So very quickly - the piaffe becomes it's own thing, while -to test the balance - I ask for a transition after it. I am not sure if I am being clear here... :) And maybe you mean exactly what I am saying - just a few re-balancing transitions? Not creating excitement?
I work at having clean differences between the movements/gaits etc. I don't want the horse to be confused at all. For example asking for a school walk should not produce Spanish Walk.... I worry about having a "too fuzzy" set of aids. I think that is where this concern for using transitions to produce a movement is coming from :) ... any advice would be great! :smile:

I notice you don't mention the cueing of the hind leg to lift - am I correct this may not be the best approach?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:22 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 8:18 pm
Posts: 4941
Location: Alberta
First, all this can be done in hand, or at liberty with mimicry as you've already used.

Second :applause: Oh my goodness he has a lovely piaffe already. It is NOT marching. It is buoyant and pretty. The piaffe is a lifetime achievement, meaning it is worked on and improved over the lifetime of the horse. It always has a small beginning...some good, some not so good, but it improves as strength improves. Your horse is already bending the haunches and has found a balance that works for now.

For you, I would definitely say that your passage could come from your piaffe...simply take the piaffe forward and a reward a few more steps forward. If your piaffe doesn't end in a halt always, you can develop the passage from a more forward piaffe. No problems.

Do not worry about "fuzzy aids". The horse will figure out in time that (for instance) the same set of aids can request either school walk or spanish walk. It's all in your energy and intent, which horses can read clearly. To an onlooker, it might look like you are not asking any differently, but your horse will know. Expect a little confusion at the outset, but as long as you are calm and reassuring to the horse (ask little, reward lots), your horse will remain calm (or quickly return to calm) and will trust the process with you. Piaffe and Passage require "positive tension" in the horse. That tension is GOOD tension and the horse can remain mentally calm.

So....I think all of this is to say that you already have the basics of your passage at your fingertips. Over time you will work on the balance and cadence and the that it will grow into everything you want it to be. It is never pretty at the outset. It never springs to life from nothing to perfection. It grows gradually to perfection through practice and love :D

In spanish walk, if you get just the right amount of forward, your horse may not stomp so much. In the beginning that forward is sometimes at the expense of amplitude, but the amplitude will come back. If you are using a target for the spanish walk, you can present the target and softly move it away as the horse reaches up and out and in time (it always takes time) the horse will reach out more with each step and will get quieter about it.

Again, it is always a process of a beginning (sometimes not so pretty), a middle, and an end. Sometimes the middle is very long. All of your work combined will affect everything, whether you work on it or not. If you didn't do a piaffe for a year, but continued to work on other gymnastic exercises, you would find the piaffe improved (if a little rusty).

So I would say for you, not to over-think things to much ;) You have a very nice start on both piaffe, and the gateway to passage. :yes:

"Ride reverently, as if each step is the axis on which the earth revolves"

PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:28 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:46 pm
Posts: 250
Location: Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada
Oh thank you Karen for the kind words!

I still think Special's piaffe has ways to go, but it's quite young yet (about 7 months) :smile:

I will work with your advice and hopefully post some video soon. I haven't used any target training, but I think the same ideas can be applied anyway...

I love the part about the shaky beginning, sometimes long middle. :)

And I am not sure I can comply on the "not-over-thinking" suggestion... :D but I will try.


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