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"4-Beat" Normal Canter -- And Galope
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Dorothy
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 Posted: Thu Feb 27th, 2014 06:27 pm
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Hello Dr Deb,
I have recently been having discussions with friends about how collected canter and canter pirouettes can become 4 time, and this led me to review your writings about the Wilton House gouaches, where you talk about the galope.

I have some questions. I have heard of this 4 beat variation of canter being called the 'school canter' or 'pirouette canter'. Is this essentially the same as the galope?

I am wondering where the term galope originated from? It is a term that none of my discussion group have come across.

I also wonder how the galope and mezair that you talk about relate to redopp - which I understand to be a travers-canter that becomes 4 time. The description that I have heard sounds very much like the mezair that you describe.

thank you.
Dorothy

Dorothy
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 Posted: Thu Feb 27th, 2014 09:50 pm
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(Just to clarify, I have been lazy in my description of canter as 4 beat. I do understand that a normal canter is 4 beat, ie 3 footfalls and a moment of suspension, and the galope is 5 beat, ie 4 footfalls and a moment of suspension.)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Feb 28th, 2014 12:54 am
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Dorothy -- Obviously, different countries and sometimes different regions within a single country will have different names for the same exercise. 'Redopp' is short for 'Redopple', i.e. Italian, meaning "four beat"....it is the same as Mezair. "Redopp" is also a term used in music, as there is much similarity.

Galope is Spanish meaning "gallop", and it can mean either the racing form (extended) or the school/manege form (collected). The short form of "Galope" is "Lope", used in North America (i.e. Mexico, U.S., and Canada) to mean a slow type of canter -- that's today's usage. In the past, it meant the slow or collected form of galope.

The distinction is important. The footfall order in canter is left hind, right hind + left fore as the left diagonal, right fore, suspension. The footfall order in gallop/galope is left hind, right hind, left fore, right fore, suspension.

That one finds many horses switching to galope while executing pirouettes has been a matter of controversy in competitive dressage, which is a game founded on a peculiarly restrictive and biased or culturally prejudicial set of rules. It has never been cotroversial among practitioners of the much wider art and science which is called the Classical High School or Haute Ecole, because the horse would have been in galope all the time anyway. Understand that historically, canter only comes along rather late -- i.e. in the 19th century -- and even then, only as a "ladies' gait" because it is smoother than the galope. But relative to the galope, the canter puts the horse on the forehand. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

 

Dorothy
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 Posted: Fri Feb 28th, 2014 04:15 pm
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Thank you.

I realise that the sadly limiting influence of the FEI rules have caused the loss of these classical gaits in competitive riding, but why have they also been lost in the so called classical schools (Spanish Riding School, Saumur, Jerez and Lisbon)?

Are there any formal schools that do still train and teach the galope?

Maybe these are unanswerable questions.

Dorothy

ruth
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 Posted: Fri Feb 28th, 2014 04:16 pm
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So does this explain the difference in beat emphasis; a horse on the forehand will canter 1 2 THREE 0 whereas a balanced horse will canter ONE 2 3 0 so the emphasis on the leading foreleg or initiating hindleg respectively?
Thanks,Ruth

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Mar 1st, 2014 12:57 am
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Yes, Ruth, it is not impossible for a horse to carry itself well in a canter; just tends to be more difficult than if it were in (collected) galope.

Wherever the horse's weight is, the sound will be louder. Hence the unequal sounds made by lame horses, crooked horses, and horses either markedly on the hindquarter or on the forehand.

And Dorothy, as to your observation about the loss of the galope: I should say, first, that it has not generally been lost in Iberia. All rejoneadores use it, and most of the people who do solo exhibition. It is also seen among the Mexicans, i.e. per the National school associated with the breeding of Aztecas. It has been lost, or not practiced, only among those who think (like Podhajsky) that they need to imitate Germans, i.e. that the galope is a "baroque" gait and that they need to look more "modern" and prove that the Iberian horse, paralleling the Lipizzan, is not just a stuffy little Baroque thing only useful for "the contractions of the manege," but capable of "extension". Unfortunately the German "extensions" are all incorrect and all damaging to the horse's physique, so although there is some justified criticism of a horse used ONLY for manege riding who may indeed become stuffy and contracted, the wise practitioner avoids these difficulties by the application of common sense, balancing manege work with a modicum of relaxed trail riding. -- Dr. Deb

Dorothy
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 Posted: Sat Mar 1st, 2014 01:08 am
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I am smiling wryly with the irony that there is discussion in competitive circles that a 'pirouette' canter should be recognised and introduced into tests, given that this is what so many horses do as they approach and execute a canter pirouette.... It is so noticeable that it can't be ignored and swept under the carpet any longer, with denial that canter and canter pirouettes should be anything other than '3 beat'

Last edited on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 01:11 am by Dorothy

Dorothy
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 Posted: Sat Mar 1st, 2014 11:39 pm
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Hello Dr Deb,
I have another question.
Is it possible for a canter pirouette to remain totally in a 3 footfall, 4 beat canter rhythm, or are the demands of a pirouette such that there will always be separation of the diagonal pair footfalls to a greater or lesser extent?
Thank you
Dorothy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 12:50 am
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Dorothy, I have seen pirouettes done in both gaits. It's just a question of how much on the hindquarter the horse prefers to maintain himself.

Aesthetically, I prefer the galope in all contexts outside of "ordinary" workaday cantering around the arena, i.e. as a "breather break", or else for flat-turf-terrain outside the arena; or else on a nice dirt or pea-gravel road that is either flat or that goes at a slight rise for a long distance. -- Dr. Deb

Pintado1
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 Posted: Fri Mar 7th, 2014 05:37 am
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This is interesting!  I don't think I have ever seen a galope, as you are describing it here.  I have however seen a lot of four-beat canter, either as a Western lope or as an attempt by lower-level dressage riders to collect and slow.  It's a flat-footed falling-forward kind of movement that doesn't look or feel particularly athletic.  I am not 100 % sure what the footfall pattern is, would need to go back and look at some video for that.  What you are describing as galope seems like something else altogether.  How would it compare to Western pleasure lope?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Mar 7th, 2014 10:47 am
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Pintado -- it's all in the person's understanding of the terminology. Dorothy has been a correspondent here for a long time, and has already seen the correct definition of "four beat canter", which crucially involves what we mean by "beat."

"Beats" in music are both sounded (notes) and unsounded (rests). That they are unsounded does not mean they don't count when we determine how many "beats" are going to be in each measure of a particular piece of music.

The walk is a gait that consists of four sounded beats.

"Gait" -- all of its many forms and sub-forms, i.e. rack, running-walk, tolt, Spanish Walk, foxtrot, trocha, sobreandando, and so forth -- are also gaits that consist of four sounded beats.

This means one hears four sounds before the footfall repeats; thus, left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore is the order of footfall for all walks and all forms of "gait". These gaits have, in addition, no period of suspension (no unsounded beats).

The "pure" trot consists of two sounded and two unsounded beats per cycle or measure, i.e. two plus two equals four beats before the footfall order repeats. Thus, right diagonal, suspension, left diagonal, suspension. The trot, correctly understood, is thus a four-beat gait.

The "pure" pace likewise consists of two sounded and two unsounded beats per cycle or measure, i.e. two plus two equals four beats before the footfall order repeats. Thus, right lateral, suspension, left lateral, suspension. The pace, correctly understood, is also a four-beat gait.

The canter consists of three sounded plus one unsounded beats, as left hind, right hind and left fore together (left diagonal), right fore, suspension. The canter, correctly understood, is also a four-beat gait.

The galope is the collected form of the gallop, which is the extended or racing form. It consists of four sounded plus one unsounded beat (in the case of horses of ordinary ability), thus left hind, right hind, left fore, right fore, suspension.

In the case of extraordinarily talented or athletic horses such as Secretariat or Man O'War, they were capable of producing a six-beat or double-suspension gallop, as left hind, right hind, suspension, left fore, right fore, suspension.

Dogs and other cursorial carnivores such as cheetahs and pumas utilize a rotatory gallop. Horses can also produce this gait, but it is harmful to them to do so; in horsemanship it is called "cross cantering" or "cantering on two leads." The footfall order is left hind, right hind, suspension, right fore, left fore, suspension. The reason that this gait is harmful to horses is that it requires rotatory spinal mobility which the anatomy of the lumbar vertebrae in horses forbids.

The ugly and incorrect form of canter which is usually called a "four beat canter" is actually a form of walk, or gait; it has the footfall order of a walk but executed in a canter-like rhythm. The footfall order in this waddling pseudo-canter is left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore, plus a very brief period of suspension. It is thus in actuality a five-beat gait, but you need to compare the footfall order to that of the gallop/galope.

The fact that 99.99% of the time, whether it be in the Pony Club manual, the 4H manual, magazines, books, videotapes, out of the mouths of experts, or wherever -- you will hear the trot referred to as a "two beat gait" and the canter as a "three beat gait" is because the speaker or writer simply has not thought the question of locomotion in horses all the way through. To speak of the trot as a "two beat" gait IGNORES -- and causes those who might like to learn, to ignore -- the crucial, the all-important, the absolutely necessary PERIOD OF SUSPENSION during which the aids are applied, during which all changes or transitions are initiated, and which alone is the factor that gives life and liveliness to the horse in motion. Think about it please! -- Dr. Deb

Pintado
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 Posted: Mon Mar 10th, 2014 01:58 am
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Thank you! Yes, I was aware from reading this forum that the correct canter has the fourth beat of suspension (it's in march time not waltz time), and I understand the footfall patterns in theory for the walk, trot and fancy gaits. It hadn't occurred to me, though, that the bad western pseudo-canter actually has a very brief fifth beat of suspension.

Your explanation about the difference between the galope and the pseudo canter is clear. After I sent in my question I was trying to visualize the galope from how you describe the footfalls, and realized that the galope would have to be very upright, and it made sense that it would appear in lateral and pirouette work. Whereas the bad pseudo canter pretty much makes these impossible, I think.

It's also interesting to think of the "pure trot" as having four beats due to the moments of suspension. I have seen a very few horses under saddle, and a few more at liberty, displaying noticeable suspension. I took one photo of a friend's warmblood trotting in pasture where he has no feet on the ground at all; he is hovering a few inches over the ground. But most of the trots I see have no suspension; there doesn't seem to be a moment without two feet on the ground, either in real life or in still photos I've taken. Perhaps there is a tiny moment of suspension that you can't see without slow motion video, or perhaps the trot is not properly diagonal, and is on the edge of a foxtrot, with the front and back legs appearing to move at different speeds. In this case, maybe there is a minute difference in lift-off time between the front and back diagonal pair, so it is effectively a four beat gait and no suspension. Or the horses are rolled over on their forehands and going very flat. If you want to respond that what I'm seeing is not a "pure trot," I wouldn't argue with that at all, but just saying I haven't found it out there very often to be observed, and when it occurs, it tends to be chalked up to horse talent. And, even then, sometimes lost under saddle.

KevinLnds
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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 09:45 am
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You write the galope is alive in Iberia. Do they teach the galope in Iberia, or do they allow the galope when the horse offers it, instead of "correcting" it and insisting on a canter?

Thanks,

Kevin

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 12:30 pm
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Kevin, your comment reveals an entirely American "show horse" and "competitive dressage" bias.

(1) Your comment implies that the galope is "incorrect". Whereas, in enlightened horsemanship, which is to say in the Classical High School, there is nothing whatsoever that is incorrect. There are only phenomena, and you do with the observation, the phenomenon, the thing the horse offers or what he responds with as you see fit and as your expertise and experience allow.

(2) No one with the above viewpoint would ever "insist" on a canter -- or "insist", for that matter, on anything else. What we do instead is work with whatever the horse offers; we work to shape that, we work to develop that into something more useful or more beautiful or more physiotherapeutic.

(3) No one who has ever experienced galope would prefer the canter to the galope. The canter has its uses; the galope also has its uses. The galope is beautiful and powerful; it is more on the hocks than the canter. It is also often less smooth, though it can (like the trot) be developed into something very comfortable to sit. The galope is the highway to certain airs, such as terre-a-terre and mezair, which the canter cannot and does not lead to.

(4) The limited viewpoint, the restrictions on what movements can and cannot be exhibited, the prejudices, the itchy discomfort with anything "different" that characterizes competitive dressage is something that every horseperson could very profitably abandon. -- Dr. Deb

KevinLnds
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 Posted: Fri Mar 14th, 2014 06:09 am
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Thanks Dr. Deb, but my question doesn't show a show horse or competitive dressage bias. I neither compete nor show, and I don't like what I see when I watch either. I also don't think the galope is incorrect. That's why I put the word correcting in quotes in my post. I think correcting the galope is incorrect. However, my question does show my complete ignorance on the subject.

Up until this thread I have never seen the galope described. With one exception, every, and I mean every, book, video, blog, or forum I've seen has focused on the canter. None has even mentioned galope. When I ask whether the galope is "corrected", I assume someone on a rules committee has "decided" that the galope is wrong and it therefore needs to be "fixed." The situation with galope is similar to ambling. If it were not for you and William Shakespeare, I wouldn't know that Europeans rode ambling horses for hundreds of years. If you read most books on horses, you'd probably conclude that something in New World water causes ambling, and not that colonists brought ambling horses to the Americas.

The exception I mentioned above is Nuno Oliveira's Reflection on Equestrian Art. However, in my edition (translated by Phyllis Field), Nuno describes the galope, but calls it a collected, four beat (sic) canter. He also describes three versions: The Western Pleasure "canter," a version with the correct foot fall but heavy on the forehand, and the galope you are describing. He values only the last, and does say it is the basis for the canter-in-place, the canter-to-the-rear, and the canter pirouette. This thread clears up my confusion about his description.

Also, since I read this thread, I rewatched some You Tube videos, and have seen galopes. In the past, I thought the horses looked good, but they didn't seem to be cantering correctly, and that's because they weren't cantering, they were galoping. The fact that I thought something was wrong in spite of the obvious quality of movement is due to a prejudice caused by my ignorance.

Thanks again,

Kevin


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