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

Trot and Passage
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
Dorothy
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jan 27th, 2010 07:53 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hello Dr Deb and readers,

I have recently heard some horses being criticised for having a trot that is 'too passagy'. These horses seem to have a trot that has an exceptional amount of elevation and cadence.

I have been puzzling for some time about what would make a trot too passagy, and at what point that trot actually becomes passage.

So, my questions are: are trot and passage on a continuum? or is there a definite difference between the two? if this is the case, what is the difference?

thank you in anticipation,

Dorothy

Last edited on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 07:54 am by Dorothy

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3210
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jan 27th, 2010 07:57 am
 Quote  Reply 
Dorothy, before I go into this one....tell me if you will, "who" criticized "what" horse for being "too passagey". I need the following info:

1. Was the criticizer a horse show judge, the neighboring farmer with 50 years' experience, or a petty rail expert/jealous pseudo-friend?

2. What age, sex, and breed was the horse that was criticized? What temperament has the horse -- i.e. calm and phlegmatic, nervous, aggressive --?

3. Under what circumstances was the criticism given -- i.e., out in the hunt field? At a horse show? Around the crossties/wash rack at somebody's barn?

When you fill us in on these details, we'll know what the criticism was really about and how much it is really worth. -- Dr. Deb

Dorothy
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jan 27th, 2010 08:47 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hello Dr Deb,

1. The criticiser was a well known 'classical' trainer and riding instructor here in the UK. Her ethos is very much for dressage as an art form and is not competitive. She is a published author, and, I believe, is knowledgeable and experienced - ie someone who I would listen to and, at least, think about what she is saying.

2. I have heard her say this of more than one horse. But one in particular is a 7 year old warmblood gelding, being trained for competitive dressage by an American Grand Prix rider (who I know personally),  I believe the horse to be energetic, but willing and enthusiatic in his temperament. The rider, I know, is very aware of creating a good environment for the horse to learn, and is very consistent in her ask and release.

3. The criticism was made of a YouTube video that the rider has posted of the horse in a training environment at home. It is a clip that I feel somethings are not right as well, in a manner untypical of the rider.

I hope this is helpful -thank you

Dorothy

Dorothy
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Jan 31st, 2010 07:48 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hello Dr Deb,

I have been thinking quite alot about my questions. It was not my intention by asking what I did to focus on the specific, and I have read enough threads on the forum to realise that you do not entertain discussion about specifics that do not relate to the questioner.

However I wanted to put my question into context, and it was the comments that I read that started me thinking about the difference between trot and passage, and it is this general area about which I am interested.

May I re-phrase my question, leaving all reference to individuals out of the equation?

What I would really like to understand is what makes trot trot, and passage passage, and where do the two meet? Indeed do they meet at all, or are they really different gaits?

thank you

Dorothy

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3210
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Jan 31st, 2010 06:40 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Dorothy, you don't need to be so apologetic. I haven't replied merely because I haven't had time. I did mention that this was going to have to be a longer answer.

The essential factor that determines the identity of all gaits whatsoever is the particular dynamic of the spine. What the spine is doing both drives and limits what the legs can do. What the legs are doing is the product of what is "shaped up" by the spine.

All the world recognizes what we may call 'discrete' gaits, i.e. what is identifiably a trot, a walk, a canter, a gallop, a pace, or an amble. It is convenient to define each of these first by specifying the order of footfall, and then refining that by specifying the timing of the footfalls (i.e. whether the beats are isochronal or in some way non-isochronal). Finally one may add a descriptor relating to the level of energy output. But one must not get mixed up and think that, because we define a gait by means of actions made by his limbs, that the actions of his limbs are what is causing the gait to happen. The 'drive' in a horse is not coming from his 'wheels', but rather from the engine and transmission, which are the propulsive muscles of his rump and the oscillatory pattern made by his spine, respectively.

Within each discrete gait, variations are also recognized. These take the form of variations in the length of the step and of the stride. It is very important to distinguish between these two -- step vs. stride. Extension of stride is a very rarely seen exercise -- hardly ever seen at dressage shows, for example. You would have a far higher chance of seeing an actual extension of stride at the Icelandic National Horse Show. There you could count on seeing horses extend the stride at both the pace and at the trot.

The difference between a step and a stride is this: a step is the measured distance between the hoof prints of the left and right hind legs, the left and right forelegs, or any pair of legs. A stride is the measured distance between the hoofprint of the right fore hoof and the NEXT hoofprint made by the right fore hoof (or you can measure from any hoof, i.e. left hind to left hind). To extend the stride means to increase the distance measured in the first instance, wherein the animal is moving at a 'working' level of energy, vs. in the second instance, wherein the animal is thrusting with much more energy so that his whole body flies through the air farther.

This is vastly different from the action typically seen at dressage shows and in the logos stitched onto the jackets worn by dressage club members, wherein the horse kicks the forelimbs very far out to the front. It is easy to catch dressage competitors by means of any ordinary camera, while they are attempting to "extend the stride", and find that what the camera shows is that the animal has, indeed, taken a very big fore STEP but at the cost of having both hind limbs simultaneously off the ground. It is impossible to extend STRIDE under these circumstances, and if measurements were taken, they most certainly would not show an increased whole-body flight time or distance for the competitor's horse. Horses that really are extending the STRIDE do not -- indeed cannot -- kick the forelimbs high enough to show the sole of the foot from the front; they do not 'flick'; and the fore step during an actual extension of stride is never larger than the hind step. I attach a scan of an Icelandic horse and rider performing an actual extension of stride.

You may now wonder why I have gone off to speak of extension of stride when what you asked about was passage. The reason for this is that the one is the basis for the other. Recall that it is the oscillations of the spine which actually determine the identity of any gait. The 'baseline' for determining what the spinal oscillation may be is its resting posture: there is a certain amount of upward arch in the three spinal curves that is native to any normal horse, though the exact amount varies from one animal to the next. In the collected version of the trot, the horse's spine oscillates from this 'baseline' or 'neutral' shape, upward. My students call this 'Debbie language': I call it the "wooka-wooka" of the spine -- you know, the sound a diving board makes when somebody springs off it. So you symbolize the diving board with your hand; hold your hand up so the palm and fingers are horizontal, put a little arch in there, and then curl the fingers and knuckles so they make an upward arch. Repeat this rhythmically, and you have a pretty good visual idea of what the horse's spine is doing in a collected trot. The "wooka-wooka" goes from neutral-to-up and then back down to neutral.

In medium trot, which is an extremely important variation, the "wooka-wooka" is similar BUT the range of spinal motion is a little bigger and the total energy level is higher WITHOUT, however, the animal going any faster m.p.h. in a forward direction. As a result, the motions of the limbs become larger and the horse gains more 'air time'.

In an extension of trot, the "wooka wooka" engages the entire up-down range of motion of the back -- in other words, there will be a certain time during which the back "wookas" downward into extension in the medical sense of the term. The arch of the spine will go below 'neutral'. This is absolutely unsafe if the horse has not had considerable practice and strengthening in medium trot beforehand, because for his health and wellbeing, it is CRUCIAL that the upward arch be re-established with every stroke (i.e. twice within a stride of the trot gait). Thus, in an extended trot, the rider "surfs" upon a long wave that, nevertheless, covers a greater up-down range than in collected trot, where she is "surfing" a shorter-frequency wave with only a moderate, or even a small, amount of amplitude.

Passage is nothing more than another manipulation or development of medium trot. As in extension, but even more so, the back will drop below neutral twice per trot stride and (we hope) recover its arch also twice per stride. The passage exercises the greatest range of motion of the horse's back that we normally see under saddle.

'Normally' because, although there is another and greater thing, very few horsemen can elicit it from the horse. This greater thing is the Spanish Trot, also called the Long Trot or Stretch Passage. In this gait, the horse's back goes from maximum upward arch all the way down through extension into hyperextension. As a result, the trot "breaks" into a four-beat gait. This gait is the Running Walk -- not as taught in America, where the art has been utterly lost, but as it is properly taught. The horse executing Stretch Passage spends very little time per stride upon either forelimb and almost walks upon the hind legs. You saw this, Dorothy, during the class you took from me some years ago: we did, I believe, look at Freddy Knie Sr. performing Stretch Passage upon an Andalusian in the Circus Knie, and also Albert Ostermaier performing it upon a black Lipizzan.

So now you know what passage is. I once explained this to an American rider who had a berth on the U.S. Olympic dressage team. She took it in thoughtfully and said, 'yes; now I shall have to think of passage as being a collected extended gait.' Whereas previously she had thought of it as only being a collected version of the trot. It isn't....'collected extended' is a very good description. -- Dr. Deb

The rider below is Vignir Siggeirsson competing at the Icelandic National Horse Show.

Attachment: Icelandic extension of stride at trot cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 448 times)

Dorothy
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Jan 31st, 2010 07:34 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Oh, that's given me some food for thought!

That is a superb photo.

thank you, Dorothy

Dorothy
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Feb 1st, 2010 06:19 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Dr Deb,

Being apologetic and trying not to inconvenience anyone is a major part of my makeup! Your comments on another thread about how girls are brought up to be doubtful and question their observations, whereas boys are brought up to be confident and sure really resonated with me. Anyway, that's an aside...

Unfortunately, whilst I do remember watching the Circus Knie, I have minimal recollection of what I actually saw. It would be good to see it again - maybe I could pursuade you to come to the South of England again one day.

I really like the diving board imagery, and the varying amounts of neutral or extension to flexion of the spine is helpful in my understanding. It makes alot more sense of the differences than just what the legs are doing.

Taking this in the other direction to piaffe, would I be right in thinking that the greater the collection, the less the amplitude of neutral to flexion, and ultimately in levade, the spine is held stabily without any 'up / down'?

I have also been wondering at what stage of a stride of trot the spine is in its maximal 'down' and 'up'. Looking at the Icelandic with the limbs at the extremes of protraction / retraction, is this the point of maximal 'down' for that extended trot?  If this is the case, then maximal 'up' would be when the legs are vertical?

There is something else related to trot that I would like to ask you, and I'm sure I have read about this in one of your books, I have an Arab and an Anglo-Arab, who will go into what I call 'turbo-trot' when they swivel their hind legs at the hip so that the feet face forwards and are about hip width apart, it is quite a distinct transition, and is the most phenomenal gait to sit on. I'm sure the strides about double in length, and the power is awesome. Is this something peculiar to Arabs? or can any horse learn / discover how to do it? What sort of amplitude of 'wooka-wooka' happens in this turbo-trot?

......too many questions, I'll stop now!

thank you, Dorothy

 

 

 

Jacquie
Member


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 02:58 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi

I was watching two of my horses carefully as I lunged this morning and I think the 'wooka-wooka' description is hilariously wonderful! I know I will always remember this and I am now going to think of this every time I see a horses back flexing up and down! Thank you DD for this brilliant description!

I noticed that Dorothy was pondering in the post above about when the extreme down part of the spinal flexion happened - as she states in the quote below:

'I have also been wondering at what stage of a stride of trot the spine is in its maximal 'down' and 'up'. Looking at the Icelandic with the limbs at the extremes of protraction / retraction, is this the point of maximal 'down' for that extended trot?  If this is the case, then maximal 'up' would be when the legs are vertical?'

I think I noticed this point while lunging and I would say that the most extreme point of downward flexion of the horses spine while in trot is the point when the horse has two legs on the ground: the horse has landed.  The most extreme upwardly curved flexion of the spine being during the period of suspension: all legs off the ground. Presumably the difference between these two becomes more marked as the horses back gets stronger: the back can flex more - without damage.

In canter, the spine is most flexed when the horse has a hind leg on the ground, but has not sprung forwards to his forelegs. Coiled and flexed in the spine. I sculpted a pair of running cheetahs once, and their spines show this much more dramatically of course.

So if a horse shows a marked ability to flex his back and is not at all stiff, is this always the sign of a horse with a good/strong/undamaged back? Can a high level of 'wooka-wooka' ever be found in a horse with a weak or damaged back?

 

cheers

Jacquie





Last edited on Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 03:02 pm by Jacquie

Dorothy
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 03:58 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Jacquie,

some interesting observations!

A weak backed horse certainly can have a large amount of 'wooka wooka', you're welcome to come and see my horse sometime to see the amount of up and down his spine can do - I almost feel it is hypermobile (can this happen Dr Deb?) and his challenge is to gain enough stabilisation that he can wooka wooka safely.

What I think is important is what Dr Deb talked about in another thread, which is the control of the wooka wooka, by appropriate tonus in both ventral and dorsal spinal muscles matching each other in the same way that a ballet dancer has high tone in her core and hence has extremely fine control of the movements. I imagine that uncontrolled wooka wooka could cause alot of harm.

This is the reason, I understand, that Dr Deb says it is important to have the medium trot really well established and strong before attempting to go for extended strides, which start to take the spine 'below' neutral.

Dorothy

Jacquie
Member


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Feb 5th, 2010 07:23 am
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Dorothy

So has your horse become highly mobile in the back, or was this animal born like that? Is the horse old or young? Is the horse long backed or short backed? sorry - just curious to help my understanding!

Jacquie

Jacquie
Member


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Feb 5th, 2010 07:33 am
 Quote  Reply 
Dear DD

with the picture of the Icelandic in a cracking extended trot, which you posted, I cannot help but notice how far back the saddle is extending to accommodate the riders behind.

I have been told by UK saddlers that a saddle should not extend this far back over the horses back to avoid putting weight onto the horses loins as there are no ribs under this area to support the weight of the rider - yet this saddle is clearly extending right over the horses loins. The Icelandic pony, however, is clearly not bothered by this in this photo and is moving with obvious ease. I am puzzled how this can be - is it OK to fit a larger saddle like this to a short backed animal for short periods?

AdamTill
Member
 

Joined: Tue Mar 27th, 2007
Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada
Posts: 289
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Feb 5th, 2010 12:59 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Jacquie,

With Icleandics, to some degree its a matter of real estate and what's currently on the market. My horse/pony is 14hh, and thus on the bigger end for this breed, and he has a measured 12" from last rib forward to the edge caudal extreme of the scapular cartilage.

Most "English"/soft panel/etc saddles are designed to be fit behind the shoulder, and most are at least 24" long in the panels. That would be double the available area.

I have a thread going elsewhere where we're discussing saddle fit, and you can see an example of the shapes involved.

So net result is that I'm sure it's not ideal, but it's what's available.

Jacquie
Member


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Feb 5th, 2010 01:58 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Makes sense Adam.  I wonder if it will cause damage/pain if ridden too often with a saddle with this length of seat? I suppose it must? 

 

cheers

Jacquie 

Dorothy
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Feb 5th, 2010 03:44 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Jacquie wrote: Hi Dorothy

So has your horse become highly mobile in the back, or was this animal born like that? Is the horse old or young? Is the horse long backed or short backed? sorry - just curious to help my understanding!

Jacquie



Hi Jacquie.

Solo is a 10year old Anglo-Arab gelding who was given to me as a yearling, so I know his history pretty thoroughly.

He is not well conformed, he has a long-ish back, and is weak in the coupling, his hind legs are a bit too long (if he stands with his hind cannons vertical, a plumb line from the point of his buttock cuts in front of the back of the cannons), he is built downhill, and is ewe necked - not a huge amount going for him! However, he is how he is, and I am learning a huge amount about how to manage a horse like him.

From the start, riding him was like riding a rubber thing with no bones in. He could wriggle any part of him in any direction, he is a horse who has really taught me the value of a neck-strap, and I still use it regularly.

I believe he started off with tremendous mobility, which, due to his conformational makeup (he would move head up and hollow backed naturally), should have had a much slower and more systematic training and strengthening to stabilise and use himself in a safer way, but I over did the endurance some time ago, and probably did damage him, making the problem worse.

I don't think it was helped by having a general anaesthetic to have a tendon sheath injury flushed out. I dread to think of how horses are manoeuvered about when under anaesthetic - you can probably tell me more! However, I do think he was worse after this.

My challenge has been to find the way of riding him to encourage all the 'collection' muscles to work properly, and I have only, in the past year, actually found out what 'release' really means, and now he is coming on in leaps and bounds (not literally!), and I sit there with a huge smile on my face as he offers me a feel in canter that I have never felt before on any other horse, and would not have believed possible with him.

I am extremely careful how and where I ride him, as he does not like slippery ground, and, I think, could injure himself with a bad slip. I have done some jumping, and he gives me a lovely feel, but again, I do very little, as I don't want him to overdo it (and I'm not brave, so I don't feel I can be there to really help him)

He is an amazing horse, from whom I am learning masses - but all my horses have pointed me in the direction of what to learn! They are such fabulous teachers.

you must come and meet him sometime!

Dorothy

PS - Dr Deb, he has very soft hoof horn, and his mane and tail hair breaks off incredibly easily. Could these be associated with weak ligaments as well? This is something that I have long wondered about with him.

thanks, Dorothy

 

Last edited on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 03:49 pm by Dorothy

Dorothy
Member
 

Joined: Fri Jan 15th, 2010
Location: Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 223
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Fri Feb 5th, 2010 03:59 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hi Jacquie,

I have been thinking more about the phase in trot when the back wookas up and when it wookas down

I think that the time that the spine needs most stability is when the protracted limbs hit the ground, I wonder if at this point the spine is neutral. As the ventral muscles work, the back will be lifting while the stance phase limbs are first pulling the horse's body over them to vertical, when the back is maximally up. As these limbs start to push the body over them, the back starts to drop, and is in again in neutral as these limbs leave the ground. While the horse is in the air, in the suspension phase, is when the back wookas down, before the ventral muscles again start to prepare for footfall of the other diagonal.

Does this make sense?? I am just trying to think of when the moving body needs the 'safety' and strength created by an 'up' back.

Dorothy


 Current time is 06:55 pm
Page:    1  2  Next Page Last Page  




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