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What's My Gait
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DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri May 22nd, 2009 04:14 pm
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Hi, Folks -- Nancy suggested in another thread that we all go over to look at the photo of Buck Brannaman on his bridle horse -- I did so and highly appreciated and enjoyed looking at Buck's fine work. It's exactly the picture of all that you want -- having your horse look like this, no matter what kind of riding you think you're doing -- should be your goal. (There is only one kind of riding anyway, no matter what costume you wear; because there is only one kind of animal that is a horse, and that animal only has one physical mechanism for doing things, and only one psychological and psychospiritual mechanism for understanding and feeling things; but I digress).

While enjoying the photo, I could not also of course help but read the gushy caption that appears underneath it. One of the comments was "look at the horse's inside hind leg" -- what the person who wrote that means is "look how far forward the hind leg is being swung." This tells me that the person does not understand very much about what she is seeing, because it is, of course, of very little importance how far forward a horse swings his hind legs when he moves, so long as he moves without stiffness. In other words, I suspect that the person who wrote that caption thinks that one sign of collection is that the horse is evidently going to place his left hind foot pretty far forward -- the common concept of 'engagement of the hindquarters.' But we never, ever, want to ask the horse to swing the hind legs, the hocks, or the hind feet farther forward than he would be inclined to do on his own, and Buck is absolutely NOT doing that in the photo, and has not done it at any time during the horse's education. In other words, Buck has not "pushed" to get this specific thing; so that if the writer of the caption has it in her mind that this is what is to be done, she will never get where Buck is.

Nevertheless, it is evident that the left hind leg of Buck's horse IS being swung under pretty far and will be placed quite far forward. There is a reason for this, and I am wondering if students reading this Forum know what that reason actually is. My question for you-all who may be interested in getting a better handle on what you are seeing in this (or any) photo of a horse in movement is: WHAT has the camera caught the horse in the act of doing?

To be more clear: what, specifically, is the gait that the horse is in? And what phase of the gait are you seing?

Please refer to the photograph; I have here rendered it as a line drawing (mane removed, rider and tack removed) for purposes of clarity. Have fun -- Dr. Deb

Attachment: Buck Brannaman horse drwg cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 719 times)

Obie
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 Posted: Fri May 22nd, 2009 04:59 pm
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I'm going to take a shot at it.

First of all by looking at this drawing of the horse I think it might be a TW, and the gait may be some kind of a running walk. By wanting to keep the LH more forward may indicate the need to try and balance the horse and possibly slow down the front end. Just a guess! I don't know much about the gaited horses and their movement.

Linda D

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri May 22nd, 2009 05:51 pm
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Linda, it's Buck Brannaman's horse. I don't know this as an absolute, but I'll bet it's a mostly-Thoroughbred animal registered as a Quarter Horse.

It is not doing any form of amble.

Stay tuned, though, I'm sure others will also give this a try, and my thanks to you for giving it a shot. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Fri May 22nd, 2009 07:23 pm
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Hi Deb,

I think Buck's horse is almost finished a change in gait from trot to left lead canter. The LF is catching up with the other legs, which have all finished, or almost finished, their first canter step.

Emma.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri May 22nd, 2009 07:58 pm
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Very good, Emma, that's correct. The camera has caught the animal just as it began to lift into the canter. The left hind leg is "kicking the left foreleg out of the way."

Now, here's the next question of interest about it. Why has the horse taken such a long step with its left hind leg? As a hint, remember that the longer the step a horse decides to take, the longer it will be before that limb is set down against the ground.

Another hint will be to observe the horse's hindquarters. Why can you see the midline on top of the croup, in this view that was taken from the front-left side of the animal?

Thinking about this will help people understand why I said 'Buck never asked the horse to take a long step with that hind leg.'

-- Dr. Deb

lighthorse
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 Posted: Fri May 22nd, 2009 11:05 pm
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The horse is raising the base of his neck, and coiling his loins.  The raising the base of the neck needs the LH leg for support...so one wouldn't want it to "far under".... the top of the croup is visible as the loins are coiled and with the LH leg forward....the left hip is slightly dropped...I guess "dropped" isn't the word exactly....the hip is lower at that moment.   This is fun.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 01:58 am
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Lighthorse -- Yes indeed: gait study is one of the funnest things there is in all of horsemanship.

To take your comments one at a time, in order:

No, the raising of the base of the neck needs no leg at all to support it. Raising the base of the neck is done by muscles attached only to the spinal bones.

One does not CARE how "far under" the left hind leg is. That the left hind leg is being swung and placed where the photo shows is a SYMPTOM of something ELSE -- something larger.

The top of the croup is not visible because the loins are being coiled, although it is true that the loins are, in fact, being coiled quite a bit.

YES you see the top of the croup because the left hip is dropped.

Now that we have got this much, the question I asked above still has not been answered. To repeat in terms of your own observations: WHY is the left hip dropped?

And if the left hip is dropped, what does that say about the right hip? Do the two hips not have a relationship relative to one another? So if the left hip is dropped, then the right hip must be....

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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 07:44 am
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Well, the joints in the left hind are more closed, 'shortening' the left hip's distance to the ground, the horse is bending to the left and therefore is steping under himself towards his centerline or body shadow to bear the weight in a balanced way.

Last edited on Sat May 23rd, 2009 07:46 am by Apples

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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 08:03 am
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My guess is that the right hind has stayed in a weight bearing phase longer than would be seen in a horse on the forehand, which simply allows the the left hind more time to advance.  Thanks for the photo and this thread. --Elynne

lighthorse
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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 08:59 am
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I agree with Elynne that the RH is the weight bearing limb.  It looks to me like that the horse is preparing himself to have a change of direction over the hocks or a "360".

Indy
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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 09:57 am
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I think that Buck has helped set his horse up to take the correct lead as he transitions from the trot to the canter.   The left hind leg is reaching forward so that the left front leg can be the next leg to reach forward into the canter while the horse remains coiled.  The left hind leg will still be forward as the front left leg goes forward and the horses gait changes from the two beat trot to the three beat canter. 
Clara

lighthorse
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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 02:48 pm
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The "symptom of something larger" tells me that we may be off in our answers....the suspense is getting to me!  Mauri

thegirlwholoveshorses
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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 04:45 pm
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Taking a stab at it.... The back muscles are all in release, freeing the left hind to swing; the base of the neck is raised; horse is relaxed at the poll.  It looks like the horse is preparing to step into the canter, but it almost looks like a lead change.  I got down on all fours and tried to replicate what foot would be going down/coming up next-- that left is so far under, it seems like there is plenty of lightness in the front end for a lead change, but my body did not have enough lightness in it : )  to fully replicate the movement!  LH and RF go down and the left front goes down last...? It will be fun to find out the real answer.

Last edited on Sat May 23rd, 2009 04:49 pm by thegirlwholoveshorses

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 04:50 pm
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Not too much suspense I hope, Mauri. I have to have time to sleep. Some questions just have to be left overnight!

Although all of you have made good observations, Elynne has succinctly solved the current question. The reason you can see the right side of the croup is that the leg underneath it is planted on the ground, and is therefore pushing the right side of the haunches up. As I hinted in my previous, the horse's pelvis is like the frame of a rigid box, and therefore the left and right sides always have a relative relationship to each other. In other words, if the left side is dropped, the right side must be (relatively) raised.

When a photo shows any hoof flat against the ground, that foot is weight-bearing. I was careful in making the tracing to show the shadow cast by the other feet, so as to make absolutely clear that neither fore hoof, nor the left hind hoof, is in contact with the ground. The horse is, in fact, standing on one leg -- he has all his weight upon the right hind. 'GirlWhoLovesHorses' has found out in her experiment, by getting down on all fours and trying to do what this photo shows the horse doing, that this movement takes enormous strength. And yet every sound horse can do it. Notice how very soft Buck's horse is as he does it: softness focuses strength rather than wasting it.

Elynne also says, "the right hind has stayed in a weight-bearing phase longer than in a horse on the forehand, which simply gives the left hind leg more time to advance." This is the answer to the question of why the horse has taken such a long step with the left hind: because he has time to do so. And what gives him the time is the fact that he is standing on the OTHER hind leg.

An important principle of horsemanship that we all heard from Ray Hunt, is the simple rule that a horse cannot move any foot that he is standing on. The wise and skillful rider never puts a horse in that kind of bind -- because, of course, he not only knows this rule, but also because he can tell, by feel, which leg or legs the horse is standing on and which are free of weight. Getting this ability requires much practice.

Francois Baucher said, "your job on horseback is to govern the flow of weight and energy." In other words: you have to be able to tell where the weight is at any given moment; and then, you use your aids (and more importantly, your projected mental picture) to re-direct the weight to where it needs to be so that the horse is in position -- so that he adopts a body-posture -- appropriate to begin doing the thing you want him to do.

Baucher also said, "your job on horseback is to make what you want your horse to do as easy and as obvious as possible." This means you have to figure out how the horse would have done the thing on his own, without your "help".

Tom Dorrance once said to me: "if you want your horse to do a certain thing, wait until you know he's about to do it; then tell him to do it."

So now we are ready for one more question about this photo: I said "Buck never told that horse to take that long step with the left hind leg. Never at any time did he push the left hind leg to try to get it to step more forward under the body." Whether the left hind leg "tracks up" is of ZERO concern, and you now know why: because in order to strike off into a left canter, the horse must FIRST stand down upon the right hind leg. The other legs will then automatically, without any "help" from the rider, do just what they are supposed to do.

So, the question now is: do you understand the canter aid sequence? What DID Buck tell the horse to do? You may put this in terms of "the first thing he said to the horse was x, the second thing he said to the horse was y".

Until you understand exactly what you need to ask the horse to do, you will never be able to do this; and yet, being able to go from halt or walk directly into a specified lead in the canter should be a primary objective of everybody's work/play with their horse. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

lighthorse
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 Posted: Sat May 23rd, 2009 07:36 pm
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He would ask the horse to shift his weight to the, in this case, RH...(to free up the left side), then ask the horse to canter....?  Mauri


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