ESI Q and A Forums Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

3-beat or 4-beat canter
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
renoo
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 28th, 2007
Location: Latvia
Posts: 72
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 09:15 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hello!

I was reading through the recent topics, and one of the things that i cannot stop thinking about is the correct beats of canter. Dr. Deb was writing that the true canter is a 4-beat, not 3-beat gait, and this left me wondering. It was also said that it ha been discussed before, but I tried searching for topics on canter, and read a handful of interesting topics, but I found only references to the true 4-beat canter being discussed before.

I've been always taught that a correct canter has 3 beats - the hind, the diagonal pair simultaneously, and the front. plus a suspension moment. I went watching videos and pictures of ridden horses and horses in liberty to track the way they land their feet.
The horses galloping would clearly land the diagonal pair of legs separately - first the hind, then the front. Some ridden horses would land the front hoof before the hind, and rarely simultaneously.

So I'm wondering if somebody is having better luck at searching for this discussion, or can describe the reason again, because it does not stop bothering me. Thank you!

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 12:58 pm
 Quote  Reply 
renoo wrote:
Hello!

I was reading through the recent topics, and one of the things that i cannot stop thinking about is the correct beats of canter. Dr. Deb was writing that the true canter is a 4-beat, not 3-beat gait, and this left me wondering. It was also said that it ha been discussed before, but I tried searching for topics on canter, and read a handful of interesting topics, but I found only references to the true 4-beat canter being discussed before.

I've been always taught that a correct canter has 3 beats - the hind, the diagonal pair simultaneously, and the front. plus a suspension moment. I went watching videos and pictures of ridden horses and horses in liberty to track the way they land their feet.
The horses galloping would clearly land the diagonal pair of legs separately - first the hind, then the front. Some ridden horses would land the front hoof before the hind, and rarely simultaneously.

So I'm wondering if somebody is having better luck at searching for this discussion, or can describe the reason again, because it does not stop bothering me. Thank you!


You already got it, Renoo.
The hind= Beat 1
The simultaneous diagonal pair= Beat 2
The front= Beat 3
The suspension= Beat 4

I was taught the same thing as you, that canter is 3 beat, because the teachers were not counting suspension phase as a beat. But when you feel it, the suspension beat does count.

Hope this makes sense.
Val

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3233
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 05:35 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Good answer there, Val.

Renoo, the suspension phase of the canter (or in fact of any gait that has a suspension phase) "counts". It counts in the same way that a "rest" in a bar of music counts. Thus, if "0" represents a SOUNDED beat, i.e. when one or more hoofs would strike, while "X" represents a SILENT beat, i.e. a "rest" or period of suspension, we have:

WALK

0-0-0-0

TROT

0-X-0-X

CANTER

0-0-0-X

GALLOP

0-0-0-0-X

Thus, you will note: the walk is a four-beat gait; the trot is a four-beat gait; the canter is a four-beat gait; and the gallop is a five-beat gait.

It is because the canter is a four-beat gait that you cannot ride a canter to a waltz and hope to stay "on the beat". Instead, the canter is generally ridden to a march or quickstep, that would be written in 4/4 time or 2/4 time, but not a waltz which is written in 3/4 time.

There is an ugly, lumbering, incorrect form of "canter" which is commonly said to have four beats. This gait has the same footfall order as the walk, usually has zero period of suspension, but to produce it the horse "sort of" horks the front end of its body upwards in imitation of a true canter. This ugly so-called "canter" obviously also has four beats.

All the books and Pony Club manuals and most of the magazines have totally blown it on this point: they are all incorrect, but what I have said above is correct, and it's crucially important too, because unless you "count" the suspension/rest, you will never be able to time the application (or more important) the removal of your aids so as to help the horse. Ignorance of, or blindness to, the period of suspension makes the rider always be late with their aids. -- Dr. Deb

renoo
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 28th, 2007
Location: Latvia
Posts: 72
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 06:04 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Thank you! That makes it clear. My mind was on the word "beat", which kind of clearly

When working on canter, in the beginning my trainer said to count 1 on the whole canter "cycle", but then I had to change it to 1-2-3-pause; 1-2-3-pause. But I assume inserting the 4 makes it easier for counting and keeping rythm! also for trot, I usually use 1-2 on footbeats, but adding the suspension moments as counts makes the rythm more effective, because if walk is onetwothreefour, then trot should be the same, but changing to ooone-twooo kind of looses the rythm gained at walk.

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3233
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 08:33 pm
 Quote  Reply 
You still sound pretty mixed up, Renoo.

Why do you still have a "trainer"? You don't need any trainer, neither does anyone.

You'll get more clarity if you take all the responsibility yourself. -- Dr. Deb

Jeannie
Member


Joined: Thu May 7th, 2009
Location:  
Posts: 187
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Mar 31st, 2013 11:23 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Dr Deb, I have been trying to figure out what happens to gaits as the horse puts more weight on the hind end, thus lightening the forehand.

  Nuno Oliveira talks about the school walk of the old masters that was a diagonalised walk that was a preparation for the "gentle passage".

 Then the trot diagonals get broken up , the more the horse sits on his back legs, and the canter diagonal separates as well when the horse lifts the front leg before the back leg. So do all the gaits start to resemble each other, except for the amount of energy and suspension ?
                                          Jeannie

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3233
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Apr 1st, 2013 07:45 am
 Quote  Reply 
Jeannie -- This is a subject I am about to address at length in the "How Horses Work" series in The Eclectic Horseman, so you can look forward to all the necessary illustrations to appear there.

For now, to begin with, you are correct in thinking that the overall balance in which any gait is done is going to have an impact upon the timing of the strike-down of the fore vs. the hind feet, and also upon the length of time the horse spends upon fore vs. hind feet.

To alter a horse's fore-aft (or aft-fore) balance, one may do one of two things:

(1) Hustle or shove the horse forward, or, in short, encourage or insist that he take a longer stride behind than he offers to do on his own WHEN he is already moving with good energy. This is the basis for the "trot plane" (accent over the last "e" in plane, so that it's pronounced "plahn-ey", French) which is so beloved of competitive dressage. The "trot plane" is the basis for all the errors which we see plaguing this sport, all the ugliness; it is not classical and was never practiced by the 18th-century European masters; and for both these reasons it should never be practiced by anyone wishing for harmony and beauty in riding.

When one asks or demands of the horse that he stretch out the length of the hind step -- which is what one is asking when one asks the horse to "track up" -- one is telling the horse to shift the point rearward at which maximum downward thrust occurs. It will also shift rearward the point at which the contacting hind hoof is finally picked up. In short, one is teaching the horse to push down-and-backward from a point behind his tail, rather than from a point under his butt (when the horse pushes down-and-backward with the contacting hind hoof, of course the effect, by the laws of physics, is to cause the body to go up-and-forward). There is no escape from this or other alternative, if indeed a longer hind step is what you are demanding.

When the horse shifts the point of hind thrust farther back, it will also shift backward, by the same amount, the point of last contact of the diagonally opposite forelimb. This is because, even though it is very possible for the trot to come "out of time with itself," in order to be called a trot at all it must retain SOME coordination of the fore and hind limbs, that is to say, some simultaneity -- or in other words, in a photograph, the forearm of the forelimb and the hind cannon will remain approximately parallel. But, when the "trot plane" is demanded, both angle backwards noticeably farther; which is to say, that the horse's body hangs over its contacting forelimb noticeably farther to the front. By demanding the "trot plane", the rider has thus shoved the horse off its balance from rear to front, shoved it over its forelimb, and, in short, shoved it onto the forehand.

There is another effect as well. As we observe that the "trot plane" forces the horse onto the forehand, we also observe that, as a side effect or consequence of this, that the horse weights the contacting forelimb more, and for a longer time. This in turn nails the contacting fore hoof more firmly to the ground and thus delays its breakover. What happens in the "trot plane" then, is that as the rider demands a longer hind step, she simultaneously deprives the protracting hind hoof of a place to land, since the place where that foot would and should land (if the horse were moving in correct balance) would be in the hoofprint of the contacting fore hoof. The hind hoof which is being brought forward cannot, however, by any means land there, because by the time it arrives, the "hoofprint" of the contacting fore hoof is still occupied by the actual hoof! Therefore what the horse does is compensate for this completely unreasonable demand by angling its hindquarters off to one side, so that the protracting hind hoof lands to the outside of the planted fore hoof. In short, what the rider who demands "trot plane" inevitably does is teach her horse to travel crookedly (as well as on the forehand).

If the horse's back is weak or if there are problems with bracing in the tongue, jaws, or neck, the situation may be even worse, as such a horse may not "side gait" (the harness-track term for carrying the body at an angle to the line of forward progress, which is what I have just described in the paragraph above); but instead the weak horse may spraddle its hind limbs so that they both land outside, i.e. wide of the forefeet. The harness-track term for this is "passing gaited", i.e. because both hind feet "pass" the tracks made by the forefeet. The old 5-gaited term for the same thing is "going wide behind". Any horse that does this is in serious need of release and rounding-up, and his rider needs to find the softness.

Now you began, Jeannie, by thinking about the timing of the footfalls; so it should be obvious from this description that what demanding the "trot plane" does is cause the trot to come out of time through having the diagonally opposite forefoot land early, so that we may find in any magazine, by scanning the photos of dressage riders and the advertisements featuring same, that 80% of the examples catch the horse (supposedly in a "pure" trot) standing on one forelimb, with both hind feet off the ground. Note that this is not DESPITE but BECAUSE the rider has asked the horse to "track up" or "track over" behind. Never ever do this!

(2) The second option, in terms of changing the timing of the footfall in the trot, would be to have the forefoot land LATE relative to the hind foot WHEN the horse is trotting with good energy.

Note first that it is crucial that the horse be putting forth good energy. If he schlepps or snoozes along, he will ground the hind foot early relative to the forefoot. This produces the same change in timing, or a similar one, but is due to the horse taking a hind step that is SMALLER than he would normally offer on his own if he were travelling with good energy.

If he is travelling with good energy, and is simply then allowed to take the length of hind step that comes naturally to him, the contacting hind foot will ground beneath the hip socket, will reach maximum degree of downward-and-backward thrust when it lies below the part of the pelvis (the ischium) that lies between the hip socket and the point of buttock, and the hoof will break over and be picked up already BEFORE it passes behind the rainbow tail.

This means that 50% or more of the thrust-energy will be directed downward, so that the reaction of the body is at least as much upward as it is forward, resulting in a bouncier, rounder arc of motion, easy to maintain if the horse has no brace in the forepart of its body, so that the lumbo-sacral joint has no difficulty flexing and therefore (because the LS joint is the key to the system) the stifle and hock joints also flex freely. This must happen in order for the horse to "sit down" for collection.

But of course when he sits down, his bodyweight will be distributed more toward the rear than to the front. This anchoring of the contacting hind limb simultaneously unweights the diagonally opposite forelimb, enabling it to break over and pick up sooner, to be lifted higher with ease, and to remain in the air longer.

Because it remains in the air longer, it will also be set down later -- in other words, specifically, later than the setting-down of the diagonally opposite hind hoof.

This is a description of "lightness".

It remains only to be said that a trot which is exactly, perfectly in synch -- so that there is no sound of clipp-a, clopp-a but rather clear, crisp "clip, clop" -- is perfectly acceptable, because it too can only be the product of release in the topline and of the elastic folding and unfolding of all the hind joints from the LS joint downward.

It is, however, also just fine to have "clip-a, clop-a" -- in other words, a slight out-of-timing due to the fore hoofs striking just a little later than the hind hoofs.

It is not fine, and a sign of wrong training priorities and techniques, to have "clip-a, clop-a" due to the hind hoofs striking just a little later than the fore hoofs.

Neither is it fine to have "clip-a, clop-a" due to the hind hoofs striking early. -- Dr. Deb

ruth
Member
 

Joined: Sat Oct 20th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 69
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Apr 1st, 2013 04:37 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Thank you for that clear explanation of the trot. Could you please explain the mechanics of the canter when (a) on the forehand, ie emphasis on the 3rd beat, as in o o O X or (b) collected, as in O o o X with the emphasis on the first beat? Or correct me if I'm wrong! Many thanks.

Steve C
Member
 

Joined: Mon Feb 11th, 2013
Location:  
Posts: 11
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Apr 2nd, 2013 02:17 am
 Quote  Reply 
Thanks for the discussion, it's been a good one to read.

Jeannie
Member


Joined: Thu May 7th, 2009
Location:  
Posts: 187
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Apr 2nd, 2013 03:25 am
 Quote  Reply 
Yes, thank you Dr Deb for that detailed explanation. This gives me a better  understanding of how the footfalls are a result of the fore/aft balance of the horse. I have been working on getting my horse to sit down more behind  ever since reading your article on Baucher, and having a photo taken while trotting a circle every 18 months, so I can see how we're doing. I hope we are getting there.

  This last photo was taken a couple of weeks ago.  It looks like his right back foot, which is breaking over, is in a good position relative to his tail. The angle on his lifted front and back legs look different, but his contacting front leg is not angling backward. He is untracking a bit being on a circle. I never hurry him, as he has good energy, if anything I ask him to slow down. What is interesting is that he will adopt this posture on his own in the pasture when he wants to go check something out, so I think it must feel good to him to move this way.

 Thank you for all your help, Jeannie

Attachment: photo(jg).JPG (Downloaded 266 times)

renoo
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 28th, 2007
Location: Latvia
Posts: 72
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Apr 3rd, 2013 09:20 am
 Quote  Reply 
DrDeb wrote:
You still sound pretty mixed up, Renoo.

Why do you still have a "trainer"? You don't need any trainer, neither does anyone.

You'll get more clarity if you take all the responsibility yourself. -- Dr. Deb


Probably another word would be more appropriate for her? Advisor, mentor, teacher? I'm riding mostly on my own, but sometimes I just feel the need to work on the things that I tend to miss on my own. For example the fact that I was sitting somewhat crooked, that my hands where fixed and didn't allow any "elasticity", I used to hold my breath when cantering and tended to loose the rhythm in all gaits easily, and my focus was often "floating" away from my horse and what we were doing.

While I would be glad to ride with somebody you recommend, I am where I am and I have the finances I have, so...

Jeannie
Member


Joined: Thu May 7th, 2009
Location:  
Posts: 187
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Apr 5th, 2013 03:18 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Renoo, Dr Deb and all,

  I don't know what it's like where everyone else is, but for the most part around here, you have to figure out this kind of horsemanship on your own. There doesn't seem to be any model of riding or working with horses which isn't based on competitive dressage or show jumping. I recently visited a couple of large barns where riding and lessons were going on, and I was surprised to see more than half the horses had martingales, tie-downs and flash nose bands. The horses were being ridden hollow, crooked and fast on their forehand, but if you look at most horse magazines or websites, that is also what you will see. I don't think people have a visual concept of what to look for when looking at a horse moving.

 I asked a person with a background in dressage to take the photo of me trotting in a circle 18 months ago, and when I was done, she sniffed "Such as it was", and while I didn't think it was great, I also didn't think it was that bad. I realize now that she thought I was going too slow.

People throw around the term natural horsemanship a lot, but it just seems to mean they use a round pen.

There seems to be a parallel between so many badly trimmed horse's feet, and badly ridden horses in that people literally don't know have an idea of what to look for in either case.

To borrow a phrase from a fellow Canadian, Neil Young , I try to wage heavy peace, and keep my thoughts to myself, but I would sure like to see things change for horses. 
                                  Jeannie

pswitez
Member
 

Joined: Mon Jun 8th, 2009
Location:  
Posts: 3
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Apr 5th, 2013 03:34 pm
 Quote  Reply 
I find that my trainer has been invaluable in helping me achieve lightness and  learn how to help/allow my horse to round up. It is very difficult to break bad habits. My trainer has brought awareness to stiffness in my body, just lately she noticed a stiffness in my wrists and suggested that I think about flicking water which solved that problem and I am amazed at how that simple change impacted how my horse moved. She has tweeked my position, helped me soften my back, things I was not aware I was doing and my horse is moving so much better. They are hard to find but there are good trainers. I feel very lucking in having found someone that can ride correctly, see problems that riders are making and explain to them how to make changes so their horse can move correctly. We, my horse and I, would not have made the progress we have without my trainer.

Pat

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3233
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Apr 5th, 2013 07:00 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Pat and Renoo: You have both missed the point of my encouraging Renoo to get away from using a trainer. I am not at all against having people ride with a respected friend who has more experience and skill, and who is willing and able to help. I myself have ridden not only with Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance, but also with a dozen other people who helped me learn to ride and train horses better.

The objection, then, is not to riding with a friend, but to ascribing to that friend the title of "trainer". If the person so called, bills herself or himself a "trainer" that is even worse.

The reason for this is that when the student is allowed or encouraged to call their teacher a "trainer", in that act -- in that very word -- the student shifts away from herself the full responsibility for all the learning and all the outcomes. When confronted with this or that malpractice or this or that horrid thing that somebody comes into one of my clinics doing to their horse, and the reply I get is "well I'm doing this because my TRAINER told me to do it," then that is a perfect example of what I mean here.

No one on earth has ever learned to ride well who did everything their "trainer" told them to do. No one on earth has ever learned to ride well who did not take 100% responsibility for all the learning and all the outcomes. No one on earth has ever learned to ride well who did not SELF-examine and SELF-coach -- even if they were receiving coaching from another person.

Ray Hunt gave the formula for true success. He said: "Every time you ride, every few minutes you need to stop and ask yourself, 'What in the last five minutes of my ride would I have kept? And what would I have changed?'"

Only when you ride with this kind of constant awareness of yourself, and with this kind of constant self-examination and self-criticism, will you succeed. I am encouraging you not to be dependent upon a so-called "trainer", but to become in-dependent, because as in any walk of life, that is the path to success. -- Dr. Deb

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3233
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Apr 5th, 2013 07:31 pm
 Quote  Reply 
And Jeannie: That is an absolutely lovely photo of you on your horse trotting on a circle. Don't let any fool be telling you that the twain of ye' are a-goin' too slow.

The competitive dressage enthusiast who sniffed at your photo, you need to realize, is not in the game for at all the same reasons that you and I (and many other readers here) are. We are in it to produce a pleasure-riding horse. That means, a horse that is a pleasure when we ride him: that is, a pleasure to us and also to himself.

Now, it is true that varying the energy output of the horse, asking him to vary it, is a good, healthy, and developing facet to any ride. There will be times, therefore, when you are working on, let us say, increasing the flexibility of the spine (in other words, the maximum depth of the bend or how small a circle the horse can handle while retaining perfect balance and rhythm) -- at which time you will need to go slower. The dressage fool will not think of this, however, because she has had it pounded into her head that the horse "must" go "up to tempo" all the time. And, worse -- if you've been watching competitive dressage for thirty years or more as I have -- you will know that the minimum tempo acceptable to them has become faster over the years, so that now the model that any of them have in their mind or experience never includes a tempo as slow as what your photo presents.

As a result of this, all their horses are pushed off their balance all the time; none of them move correctly, or are given any chance to learn to move correctly, at any time.

The rider who has her wits about her, and who is not indoctrinated but retains the ability and willingness to flex to the situation and allow the chips to fall where they may -- as we do here -- will by this fact experience something that the dressage fool cuts herself off from: that, by riding somewhat "below tempo" most of the time (and thereby allowing the horse to have the time it needs to get its feet where they need to be for each movement or transition, and thereby to always move in balance and without bracing up anywhere) -- I say, by doing this then you and I find our horses becoming extremely muscular and powerful.

You can ask your dressage friend sometime, the one who sniffed at you, the following question, and don't answer it for her but let her think about it: which performer in the circus is the most muscular and powerful?

Would it be the "strongman", the guy in the sideshow tent who performs snatches and jerks with the heavy barbells? Would it be the acrobats or the aerialists, who swing high above, tumble in the air, and hang from each other's arms? Or would it, rather, be the two-man hand-to-hand act? In this latter display, one man lies flat on his back, with his elbows against the ground and his palms facing upward, while the other man performs very slow-motion gymnastic movements while clasping hands with the lower man?

The correct answer is the two man hand-to-hand act -- essentially a slow-motion performance on a live "vaulting horse" -- because the upper man's holding his body out at 90 degrees, or balancing one hand to one hand, and every change from one position to another (every transition) requires far more strength than even the "strongman", because the strongman can and does use momentum (the clean-and-jerk swing) to get the weight lifted up.

So you, Jeannie, have an enormous advantage in having figured this out -- which is the one and only method to putting a "double back" on a horse, the one and only method to getting him to raise the base of the neck, the one and only method to teaching him to balance correctly from rear to front, so that he is light in the forehand all the time. From this, if you desire, you can always ask him to move with greater speed -- but of course you would never ask for more speed than he can produce within the envelope of balance and release. So you can run him up to a higher tempo for brief periods, and sometimes you would even build a ride where the main emphasis for the day -- for that fifteen-minute period during which you work on "new skills" -- would be the particular transition from lower to higher energy output, and then back from higher to lower. From this you will find the horse asking whether you would like to passage or piaffe, by the way, especially if you alternate it with some half-pass or counterchange of hand.

Cheers, and congratulations -- Dr. Deb


 Current time is 10:06 pm
Page:    1  2  Next Page Last Page  




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez