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Inherent trot (and walk) leads when going in a straight line?
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Capparella
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 Posted: Fri Aug 9th, 2019 04:41 am
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I have a question about leads at the trot (and walk)-going in a straight line.

I recently watched a video of Buck explaining this, and I am having difficulty understanding what he means about a feel of the trot lead on a straight line. The video was posted by someone who has his permission to post by the way. The link is https://youtu.be/VyLxTywbOSM, and around about 1:39 he’s speaking of this. At around 2:54 he talks about going from a straight line trot to a lope.

I am very curious-perhaps this is a really basic thing I’m not understanding. I can understand on a circle or serpentine-it would be obvious-but in a straight line? At a walk or trot there is a lead the horse is taking on a straight line?

He seems to be indicating there is a natural lead the horse is taking in both gates, that one can feel, not just asking at the proper footfall, but being perceptive of what wants to happen or is already happening.

I would just go and experiment directly as he suggests, however I am recuperating from a torn hamstring (Aikido injury) and am not riding for several weeks, so cannot check this out under saddle yet. I am perplexed, or perhaps misunderstood him entirely.

Below I have quoted directly from the video (I have in three parenthesis marked at the sentence indicating what has confused me)

« Gradually I’ll get all you guys to where you can feel where that horse is arranged in the walk and the trot. You ought to be able to feel at the trot if he’s onto a left or a right lead. Therefore, if he’s trotting on the lead you didn’t want, you don’t ask him to lope. You rearrange him at the trot, until he’s prepared, so that you start consistently getting the right answer. And that takes some time to get some feeling of your horse. A fella will will do way more at the walk and the trot, kinda concentrating on where that horse is under ya, and I guess we might as well talk about it right off so at least you’re thinking about it all of you. Because it shouldn’t be a guessing game when you’re on your horse. So, I always tell people, you ought to be able to feel at that trot what lead he’s going to take. And of course, they always say « well, how in the hell am I supposed to feel that? «  Well, first, you’re not trying to cause it, you’re trying to see what would happen in spite of you, and I don’t mean that the wrong way. What I’m saying is, is for you to learn this, (((and it’s great out in the desert where you can trot long distances straight, so that you don’t have to worry about blinking in any corners, and what you do is, you just trot that horse out and don’t try to influence him on one lead or the other, but feel of him, feel what that trot feels like))), and then gradually build that trot very slowly, very slowly, till pretty much it just doesn’t take anything to roll him onto the lope. You’re trying to get to the lope almost as slow as you can. And then when you roll on over to the lope you see what lead he’s got. »

He goes on to say you then start guessing which lead he’ll take based on your feeling of the trot.

Thanks for any insight!

Last edited on Fri Aug 9th, 2019 04:49 am by Capparella

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Aug 9th, 2019 09:44 am
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Dear Cap: It's late at night as I receive your query and so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to respond at greater length. However, I can start you off with a couple of thoughts and you can chew them over and prepare your reply while I'm catching some Z's.

First, just to observe: some teachers are going to be more descriptive and some are going to be more analytical. Buck is being descriptive in what you quote, and descriptive often entails a certain amount of fuzziness in the meaning of the words used. So you need to be told by me, the analytical type teacher, that conventionally we do not speak of leads "in" either the walk or the trot, at any time, on either a straight line or on a curved line. The canter has leads because it is fundamentally asymmetrical; the walk and trot do not have leads because they are symmetrical gaits.

HOWEVER -- I will also immediately tell you that you can use the Google advanced search function and if you enter keywords "canter lead" it will pull  up explanations I have previously written and posted here that say that the correct and best way to have a horse change from walk or trot into a canter or lope, it is a two-step process: FIRST you establish the lead IN the walk or trot; SECOND you up the energy level so that the horse changes from the footfall order of walk or trot to that of canter or lope. So in this sense, yes, there ARE leads in the walk and trot.

The problem for you then devolves into figuring out what the term "lead" means, anyway? And let us say that we confine that strictly to the lead when the horse is cantering or is intending to start cantering or loping.

To help you figure this out, the first thing you need to do is review the footfall order of the canter. Let us say we are talking about a canter on the right lead. Please answer me back:

(1) What is the first or initiatory foot -- i.e., which foot strikes the ground or takes weight first, if the horse is cantering or loping on the right lead?

(2) What is the second foot or feet to strike down?

(3) What is the third foot to strike down?

(4) Does anything else of importance happen before the cycle repeats?

Once you get this straight in your mind, it will be simple and obvious what a "lead" at the canter means, and from that you may clarify what Buck is talking about by speaking of setting the horse up so you can feel what lead he is on BEFORE he "actually" canters. -- Dr. Deb

Capparella
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 Posted: Sat Aug 10th, 2019 02:09 am
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Thank you for your reply!

My answer to the question of the right lead footfalls:

(1) left hind

(2) right hind and left front together

(3) right front

(4) yes, a period of suspension-a pulse of time in the air before the left hind then pushes off again-I feel it like the first three are quarter notes and the suspension is like a quarter note rest-so it feels more like a four beat than a three beat gait in a way.

I searched advanced google and found three results. If my understanding is correct, one starts to ask for the lead in a walk or trot by achieving a bend so that the outside hind is encouraged to push off in response to the propulsive energy being asked for.

Perhaps Buck did not mention a bend that would have to be involved to whatever slight degree? Or perhaps there is really no such thing as a perfectly straight line?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Aug 10th, 2019 03:31 am
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Yes, exactly. So what Buck is talking about is teaching you to feel when the outside hind limb is weighted or just about to be weighted. This is easiest to feel and also to cause the horse to weight it when on a curve, i.e. on the left hand for a left lead and on the right hand for a right lead.

Simple, once you understand what he means. A basic goal of all horsemanship is to bring the horse to the point where departure from walk to canter is easy, and ultimately from halt to canter. Given what we have said here, this requires that he bend correctly and also that he be sufficiently responsive that he will raise his energy output in response to light aids of the calf. When this is the case, you "get the correct lead" every time (the "correct" lead being the one you asked for, whether on a straight line or on a curve); and there is no thumping and pounding or hustling. Essentially you just step down into your left stirrup and sit with more awareness on your left seatbone, and the horse will change from walk or halt to right  canter.

And no, there is no such thing as a perfectly straight line, certainly not in the confines of the arena, and not even really when riding on a road or a big open space outdoors. This is because the horse is always falling off plumb, i.e. weighting one set of legs more than the other set, even if by ever so little; and this is what Buck is trying to get you to learn to feel. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Capparella
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 Posted: Sat Aug 10th, 2019 03:39 am
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Thank you! Clarifies it greatly.

Capparella
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 Posted: Tue Sep 3rd, 2019 03:45 am
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I just had to write in again because I tried this today, now that I'm back in the saddle. I spent a lot of my time recuperating doing groundwork and just soaking on info.

I am always feeling of the feet, and me and the whole horse as much as I can, and studying so much. But I am guessing I've been more of that feel-think rider than feel-do rider.

Today I was in the field, and I thought, what the heck, lets see if we can get this canter depart going. Usually I'll get it but not smoothly, and I have micromanaged things. I've gotten in the way!

So I just tuned in on those feet and my seat bones, in a sort of easy not trying hard way. I imagined the bend, which was enough to ask for it, and the push off, and had the smoothest, most buttery feeling canter depart ever!

I feel sort of stupid, that I did not discover this before. Timing is of course critical, and for me, not "over asking" if that makes sense. I tried it another time on the other lead and it wasn't as smooth. I had gotten overly focused. Then I went for it again in that same way and open mind as the first time and it happened again! It was easy peesy, and my horse was like "yeah, that was cool-you learned how to set us up properly."

I thought I knew how to do that before. I didn't. Now hopefully I won't jinx myself and mess it up. However, I know how it FELT so it's in there somewhere. I am just astonished at how easy and smooth it was. It was like there was no "upward transition" it just happened.

I felt like my original question was probably silly, but I'm so glad I asked it anyway, because I feel like I have a glimmer of experiential knowledge that really it's supposed to be that easy in all things we do, if we do them correctly. Many thanks!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Sep 3rd, 2019 07:45 am
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You're quite welcome, Cap. My only request is -- tell your friends. They could also receive the same help if they would just be humble enough to write in and ASK. Cheers to you, and many more happy rides in return. -- Dr. Deb

JTB
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 Posted: Wed Sep 4th, 2019 03:06 am
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Many thanks for starting the thread, Cap. It is a great reminder about staying out of their way and feeling the feet and weight. I haven't ridden for a few weeks now but my last ride, right at the end we did the most beautiful collected stop and back up I have ever felt. A moment is all it takes to get the feel of what we are looking for and it is that moment that keeps us hunting for more! Happy riding/learning and thanks for sharing. :-)


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