The Art of Natural Dressage

"School" Gaits
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Author:  danee [ Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:28 pm ]
Post subject:  "School" Gaits

In reading old masters or even modern french dressage trainers I have found numerous mention of the school gaits and how rare they are today, no one does them right, yadda yadda yadda. I found lots of descriptions of what they ar not, but few as to what they SHOULD look like. Anyone know of good description or video??? Henriquet goes into detail, but again, more emphasis of what it isn't than what it is.

Author:  Hooflady [ Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "School" Gaits

School gaits normally refer to engaged movement by the horse. Like a working trot but with the horse under himself. Depending on what level you are riding the gait gets more and more engaged.


Author:  Karen [ Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "School" Gaits

I googled too, and couldn't find specific definitions. It just seems to be a blanket term for the collected movements.

Author:  admin [ Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "School" Gaits

I've been studying the classics lately too, and indeed the old masters excell in mentioning an exercise and writing how to ask for it from the saddle, without describing what the exercise should look like exactly... And of course already in the 16th century everybody disagreed with each other on what each exercise should look like, in order to make our lives even more difficult... :evil: ;)

General consesus of modern classical/baroque dressage trainers on the school gaits, is that the baroque dressage indeed had two more gaits which differed from our modern collected walk, trot and canter; the school walk and the school canter.

Where the regular collected walk is a four beat movement, the school walk is a two beat movement: the legs move in diagonal pairs (right hind and left front moving forwards at the same moment while the other pair is on the ground) without a suspension moment. It's a very slow and collected walk that's created by slowing down the movement of the frontlegs and speeding up the movement of the lindlegs.

Where the collected canter is a three beat movement with a suspension moment, the school canter is a four beat movement without suspension moment. The funny thing is that modern dressage trainers see this as a flawed canter as there always should be a moment of suspension in a canter - but they forget that their horses too slide into a four beat, or at least suspension-less movement when doing a canter pirouette as well. The school canter is a preparation for all the jumps, and especially for the terre a terre as that exercise doesn't have a moment of suspension either.

There also is a school trot, but that seems to have been just a more collected, slower and less high passage and isn't that often mentioned as a seperate exercise.

If you watch the third dvd of Bent Branderup, you can see these movements in real life by his horses under the saddle. Always handy in order to visualise things right! ;)

Author:  Karen [ Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "School" Gaits

Where the regular collected walk is a four beat movement, the school walk is a two beat movement: the legs move in diagonal pairs (right hind and left front moving forwards at the same moment while the other pair is on the ground) without a suspension moment. It's a very slow and collected walk that's created by slowing down the movement of the frontlegs and speeding up the movement of the lindlegs.

COOL! I have been playing with this with Cisco. Someone else called it a "Counted Walk". You slow the walk to almost nothing, but still encourage the forward movement, and it becomes something like a walking piaffe...the legs moving in diagonal pairs. It takes a LOT of contact though, because you are required (so it was explained to me) to still the horse's head as much as you can...that by not allowing the horse to bob it's head as it naturally does in walk, but still asking the hind legs to step under as much as they do in a normal walk (haven't got a clue if they do or not...I'm not that talented) then for some reason the horse falls into that two beat diagonal walk. Cisco offered it up as a piaffe type of putting a touch more energy into it.

I only ask for a few steps, the let go all contact and let him walk out. He strides out with a really strong walk (I also encourage him to drop his head at this point too, to really stretch out).

It is very interesting though!

Now THAT I should get on video. It could look absolutely awful. Feels really cool though.

Author:  admin [ Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "School" Gaits

Blacky really seems to like this as well, only he thinks it's such an interesting movement that he just totally exaggerates the movement of his hindlegs in order to show that they're following a new beat: at one point he would lift them so high that he actually touched his belly with them in order to show that he was doing a great new movement. :ieks:
So I guess now we're working on keeping that enthusiastic attitude - but at the same time tone down the movement a little. 8)

Author:  Karen [ Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "School" Gaits

:lol: :lol:

Author:  Romy [ Sun Nov 30, 2008 8:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "School" Gaits

Titum frequently does this slow four-beat canter, especially when we are working on doing a row of single canter jumps which then becomes a rather fluid canter - but four-beat. Funny that it has a name and is a real exercise. :smile:

Author:  danee [ Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "School" Gaits

Thank you Miriam! (Is ther anything this girl doesn't know?!?!?!)

I was thinking the 2 beat walk was the school walk- especially since I remember one description saying to build it from a trot??? But trot and canter I wasn't sure as I origonally thought the same as everyone else- just more collected.

When I was a jumper we would often practise the four beat canter where the hind leg lands well before the front it is suppose to be diagonalized with. I remember those horses felt pretty neat.

Since than I've seen many western pleasure horses, that even though they may have a three beat gait, they still have this aweful hitch to the canter. I can never put my finger on the exact locomotive error, but they are carrying no weight behind, and are very slow. Your first impression is that they are four beating, but looking at there legs shows a correct footfall pattern. The jumpers with four beats felt good, adn these horses look aweful. Besides weight behind, I wonder if there is any real difference.

So while we are on this subject, what do you guys consider to be half steps?? I always though of them as too forward to call it piaffe, but soon to be piaffe. lately I read on articel where a woman described half steps more like a two beat walk. I think that was what made me think harder on the "school gaits".

Author:  Zuzana [ Mon Jul 15, 2013 5:43 pm ]
Post subject:  the 4 beat school canter

I believe there is a difference between the footfalls in 4-beat school canter (collection) and 4-beat canter - too forcibly slow and on the forehand.
The difference is in how the diagonal disassociates. The horse either lands first the back foot or the front foot of what would be a single beat (diagonal pair of legs) in the 3-beat canter.
One of the easier ways to see this is the energy - even though the school canter slows, the energy/power builds. There would not need be any re-balancing, "in-between" strides between it and extended canter (or any other movement). In contrast, the 4-beat on the forehand canter would obviously need some help before the horse could do anything else...

I don't have nearly enough (read: any ;) ) experience with the school canter yet, but have definitely seen (and ridden :sad: ) the second kind of 4-beat canter - when the front end of the horse comes down early - the horse catches himself with his front leg, the diagonal disassociates with the foreleg hoof landing first.

So the texts say the school canter's four beats come from landing the hind leg first.
However, this brings a question... (lot's has been said about this with the "advanced placement" of competition dressage horses in trot - when the hind foot of the diagonal lands before the front...)
...doesn't this mean that the hind foot then also leaves the ground before the front? There has been some arguments that in that case it's the leg which leaves the ground last (front in this case) is the one providing the propulsion force.
I don't think I agree with this theory.... I think when the horse works in collection - longitudinally shortened from point of shoulder to point of buttock, elevated in front and lowered in the haunches, it's as if the front legs play a very minor part in locomotion, and the power comes from the hind legs. But this may be a different story with a stiff "long" horse flailing forwards....
Anyone care to comment??? :) Oh how I wish I had four legs for a few hours - to do my own experimenting! :smile:


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