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 Post subject: 4: Piaffe
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 12:27 am 
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In Nevzorov's DVD, it is mentioned that teaching piaffe is a good way to start teaching a horse collection.

Any thoughts on that?

Also, how do you teach piaffe on the ground?

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 7:14 am 
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I was starting with this but got a warning of my trainer not to start too young because it damages your horse (my horse is 5). Its better to start with shoulder in and travers to train the sides (bellymuscles) separately and go from there over to Piaffe.

But I teach my horse the movement of the 4 separate legs on command. Also the placing forward of the 2 hindlegs under the mass and raising them once. This as a small start. Evita also can "walk" with only her hindlegs but I don't practive this under her mass.
I think there are people here who can add information to go from here to Piaffe.


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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 7:25 am 
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I think of teaching the piaffe, after I teach canter in hand. I want to teach it from walk, first just walking in place, than add more energy to make it more "bouncy". I think that she will enjoy it even more than canter. She likes all exercises in place, and some she offers even backwards ;) so I want to teach something in place to prevent backwards movement. Right now, for example, when she has problem with spanish walk (she doesn't make more than one step, and I don't know why because she used to do it), she will lift one leg, than the other, than she will do the spanish walk backwards, or she will turn to face me and rear. So now I need to teach forward movement but it's very tricky in that roundpen. I could put the bitless bridle, or something, and practice in the manege... but I don't know what's better. Bridled in manege or loose in roundpen :roll:


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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 9:51 am 
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I think teaching the piaffe from collected walk is very good possible. Dr. Nancy Nicholson pointed out in her Biomechanics of Dressage book that piaffe is actually more related to the walk than the trot, so that means that the walk in itself is a good choice. But to top that, collecting a horse from trot to piaffe most of the time needs more urging by the trainer (to get him into trot, to slow him down again) and you might not want to restrict him that much if you're teaching the piaffe on the cordeo. The walk is much more subtle because it's slower, so you have more time to react to your horse.

One thing about piaffe; you'll only get a good one if your horse is strong in his hindquarters and if he's straight. And to both strengthen and straighten him I think it's best to start with shoulder in (strengthening and stretching the inside hindleg) and then travers (stretching both hindlegs) untill the horse does those very good, only to then really go for the piaffe. Up untill that moment teaching the horse to lift his legs seperately on cue is a very good preparation though!


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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 11:30 am 

Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 2:46 pm
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Location: Austria
I think starting collection by working on the piaffe is a bit hard for someone who is actually not very familiar with training a horse in collection. Furthermore there of course are some horses that offer piaffe-like steps pretty quickly in play but there are others that (not to say the majority) concentrate more on transforming their energy to forward movements rather than to upward movements. For this reasons I totally agree with Miriam by saying that it is better to start with side steps in hand like shoulder in, travers and renvers to give the horse an idea of what collection is about. Renvers and Travers on four strides (I hope this is the right translation for what I mean) help the horse a lot in collecting, the Pirouette even more. The focus then moves more and more towards the haunches. Transitions between backwards, forwards (in walk or trot) and stop also help. It depends very much on the horse if it will finally learn the Piaffe easier through a collected walk (especially the counted walk and the school walk have to be mentioned here) or transitions between moving backwards and collected trot.


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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 2:11 pm 
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Pamela wrote:
Renvers and Travers on four strides (I hope this is the right translation for what I mean)


I think you mean on four tracks. ;)

I myself aren't that much of a fan of pirouettes though.. They are a good way into collection, but the strain on the hindlegs by turning them while placed on the ground is something that I like to avoid. Alexander Nevzorov has a similar exercise in which the horse is to make a pirouette around the frontlegs with one frontleg stretched into the air all the time. I taught Sjors that up to 1/3 pirouette and then stopped. The horse leans on that one frontleg with more than his usual amount of weight and turns it into the ground like a corkscrew... That cannot be good.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 8:21 am 

Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 2:46 pm
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Location: Austria
During the pirouette the horse has to make very very small steps with every hindleg and should never turn on a placed leg. This is indeed not good for the joints and therefore not wanted at all...


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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 11:18 am 
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Pamela wrote:
During the pirouette the horse has to make very very small steps with every hindleg and should never turn on a placed leg. This is indeed not good for the joints and therefore not wanted at all...


But the horse doen't straighten his body during the pirouette when a hindleg is on the ground - he keeps turning. Indeed it's not as with the western riding spin when the horse puts one hindleg on the ground all the time, but a horse doing a pirouette does rotate his body above hindlegs that stand on the ground for a while before being lifted.

A few years ago in the Netherlands a magazine (Bit) had asked a few vets to analyse video footage to compare western riding and dressage on several exercises (amongst which the pirouette and the spin), and when I recall correctly the vets told that the pirouette was the hardest exercise on the horses'legs because the horses's body keeps turning and every now and then a hindleg bears the bodyweight alone while being turned on. The spin was less hard when I recall correctly because the horse just locks that leg from pelvis to hoof and uses it as a standpost to stut his weight with - while in the pirouette the hindleg bears the weight right on top of it due to the collection and slowness of the movement and it has to bend it's joints while turning too, which puts more pressure on them.

Of course it's all in moderation: If you spin/pirouette all day long, your horse will gets into problems, but if you ask it only once a week or something like that, or more in walk than in canter, or canter instead of the pirouette slightly larger travers-voltes, it puts much less strain on the legs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 12:00 pm 

Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 2:46 pm
Posts: 15
Location: Austria
Hi Miriam,

I understand your concerns and the results of the study but isn't that only valid for a canter pirouette? In walk there are always three legs on the ground that will carry the horses weight (even though the weight moves a bit more towards the haunches. And of course it always depends on how small the pirouette's circle is.


Last edited by Pamela on Tue May 29, 2007 12:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 12:08 pm 
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Pamela wrote:
I understand your concerns and the results of the study but isn't that only valid for a canter pirouette? In walk there are always three legs on the ground that will carry the horses weight (even though the weight moves a bit more towards the haunches. And of course it always depends on how small the pirouette's circle is.


Yes, you're completely right. :D The article was on canter-pirouettes indeed, but in the Dutch sports dressage you see here everywhere the movement that's called a pirouette is most of the time a canter-pirouette (and when they are in piaffe, walk or trot or other movements they are called an piaffe/walk/etc.-pirouette). But it's good to know that in English 'pirouette' is really just the movement, not the gait in which it is performed. Thanks!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 12:22 pm 

Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 2:46 pm
Posts: 15
Location: Austria
Ah ok, I see! :D I always talked about the pirouette in hand - and as a canter pirouette is very very hard to do in hand (better done with long reins) I thought it would be clear that I was talking about a walk pirouette. Silly me - my mistake. :oops:

When my husband and me started to train my horse the pirouette in hand it was a fantastic experience for all of us. My horse seemed to enjoy the exercise so much that he got an erection every time we asked him to do these movements! Honestly! :oops: :D Furthermore he made this deep and stallion-like sound. So I'm sure he really enjoyed the feeling the pirouette gave him. Today this exercise is routine for him and he (fortunately :D ) doesn't get an erection anymore. Nevertheless - as soon as he does a really really good one he still makes this deep stallion-like sound. As well in hand as under the saddle. I guess I have a funny horse. :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 1:45 pm 
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My trainer friend, Paul Dufresne, showed us how he teaches Piaffe from the Goat on the Mountain (Stand on a Dime), and the book "Training Horses in Hand" (Dietz) also suggests it is one possible way to do it.

Paul uses a lot of pressure though, holding the horse back with the halter and putting pressure on behind with the whip. The way he does it, does not require a lot of strength, the horses are already very light in the halter, so it's not like you are gripping the line and forcing them to stay in one place, and he does not hit the horse with the whip...just a rythmic tapping. And he himself expresses body language that suggests the Piaffe.

I was thinking of trying it this way, but only in a cordeo, or better yet at liberty, with only body language to ask him to stay in one place, and to send his energy upward. The steps themselves would be taught at a standstill (raising diagonal pairs).

I am thinking that in putting it all together at liberty,rather than on a cordeo or on a halter, the horse has the choice to move off if he feels he cannot do it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:38 am 
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Quote:
My horse seemed to enjoy the exercise so much that he got an erection every time we asked him to do these movements! Honestly!
Um, that is a little more "relationship" than I want!!! :lol:


I han't done it in a while, because I wasn't getting any suspension (but maybe that is why it is walk like? Maybe I'm not supposed to!!!) but I taught my horse to piaffe by asking her to lift each hind leg individually, and then asked for one to the other quickly. I still used a bit at the time and i put on side rein on the outside so I could hold a line on the inside and stand near the haunches more where I could touch each leg individually. Once that got good (we went through oodles of treats!) I stood more at her head and tapped at her stifle while I piaffed with her. Eventually I could in a neck rope start "piaffing" beside her and point the whip at her croup or stifle and she would piaffe. She definitly sqauted and had rhythm, but it was still more like shuffling in a croutched position than a piaffe, so I quit doing it.

I should keep up with rasing her hind legs though.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:43 am 
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Interesting! I know that a lot of classical dressage trainers train in hand with sidereins in order to keep the headset collected when teaching piaffe. It's a good thing that we now have ways to ask the horse to keep his own head in that position while asking him for these exercises!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:19 pm 
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You know- I have yet to teach my mare to flex off the cordeo- but yesterday and today I played with the piaffe again, in just the cordeo- and both times she held the correct position in her neck. Even though we had initially started in a bit and one side rein, she was always very light, and not once did she grind her teeth, open her mouth (no noseband), or swish her tail. Worse she did was put her head up in a tense way, and even that was only here and there.

Shouldn't the piaffe have the same back rhythm as the trot? My mare moves her legs nicely, but all she is doing is picking up one diagonal pair, set them down, pick up the other pair, set them down.... She does "sit" a little too. It happens too fast to watch her pasterns to see if there is more weight in the hind ones.

Any suggestions?

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Last edited by danee on Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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